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Mustangs edge Castlewood for fifth at State B

Waubay-Summit’s J Gulbraa, center, comes down on a loose ball between Castlewood’s Quincy Thu, far left, Booker Schooley, front right and Bryon Laue, center right, during Saturday’s consolation round game at the South Dakota Class B Boys Basketball Tournament. In the background at far right for the Mustangs is Jonathan Johnston. Photo by John Davis taken 3/19/2022

Mark Amdahl leaned over and put his hands on his knees as the emotions poured through his veins. His Waybay-Summit Mustangs had survived.

On the strength of a no-look pass for the lead and three straight defensive stops for the win, the eighth-seeded Mustangs, scorers of just 28 points in the tournament opener, left Don Meyer Court as the State B Boys’ Basketball Tournament consolation champions after a 40-39 over Castlewood in the fifth place game Saturday afternoon at Wachs Arena.

“There’s just a ton of emotion going through you,” Amdahl said. “As a coach, you always want to have that last play for your kids. You want to have that ultimate play, but what it comes down to is kids just being able to make plays and being able to execute. Today, our players did that. They stepped up when they needed to, got the stop when we needed to. Just a lot of emotions, because you want it so bad for your kids.”

In a defensive battle where points came at a premium, neither team led by more than seven points. Both advantages, ironically, came in the first half of the game.

“The last couple games, they got out running, and the last half of the season, they’re a team that transitions offensively to defensively really well,” Amdahl said. “We don’t mind doing that, but we knew if we got them into a half court today and had a grind-out game, we’d have a better chance (at winning).”

And, while the first few minutes of the game didn’t start that way – Castlewood sprinted out to a 7-2 lead – the Mustangs buckled down the rest of the game.

Waubay-Summit turned that early deficit into an 18-13 lead by the end of the quarter led by some key buckets from Jonathan Johnston.

“It feels amazing,” Johnston said of closing out his junior season with the win. “We worked really hard, all summer, so I’m really proud of this team.”

Waubay-Summit’s Jonathan Johnston, center, moves around Castlewood’s Jackson Schofield, left, during Saturday’s consolation round game at the South Dakota Class B Boys Basketball Tournament. Looking on at right is the Mustangs’ Damon Opdahl. Photo by John Davis taken 3/19/2022

Johnston finished with a team-best 11 points and eight rebounds for the Mustangs, who got contributions up and down the lineup. Jackson Wohlleber had nine points, and Damon Opdahl and Seth Gaikowski finished with six points apiece. 

J Gulbraa tallied eight, but none bigger than the final two, which came on a no-look pass from Opdahl with 20 seconds left in the game.

“Every kid on our team made a mistake today,” Amdahl said. “But every kid on our team also did a really good job of doing something of their role today, whether it was the bench players cheering for their teammates or our kids just hitting big time shots.”

After that bucket from Gulbraa, Castlewood set up its final possession and had three attempts at the basket, but was unable to convert on any of the three, leaving Waubay-Summit with the win.

“We had a tremendous year that we’ve got to be proud of,” said Castlewood coach Mike Thyen. “We got back to the state tournament … and our kids played hard and had fun. It’s just disappointing that we lost this one so close.”

Tristan Nielsen finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Warriors. Bryon Laue added eight points and seven rebounds in his interior battle with Gulbraa. Lane Tvedt had seven points for Castlewood.

CASTLEWOOD (17-8): Tristan Nielsen 5 5-7 16, Booker Schooley 1 0-2 2, Lane Tvedt 3 0-0 7, Jackson Schofield 1 0-0 2, Bryon Laue 4 0-0 8, Quincy Thu 2 0-0 4. Totals 16-53 5-13 39.

WAUBAY-SUMMIT (22-4): J Gulbraa 4 0-0 8, Jackson Wohlleber 2 4-4 9, Damon Opdahl 2 2-2 6, Seth Gaikowski 2 0-0 6, Jonathan Johnston 4 0-0 11. Totals 14-43 6-6 40.

Castlewood 13 19 28 39

Waubay-Summit 18 24 31 40

3-point field goals – Nielsen, Tvedt; Wohlleber, Gaikowski 2, Johnston 3. Total fouls – Castlewood 10; Waubay-Summit 11. Rebounds – Castlewood 34 (Nielsen 10); Waubay-Summit 35 (Johnston 8). Turnovers – Castlewood 8; Waubay-Summit 17. Assists – Castlewood 5; Waubay-Summit 8. Steals – Castlewood 10 (Tvedt 3); Waubay-Summit 5 (Opdahl 3).

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