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Hamlin rallies for State A tourney win over Sioux Valley

Hamlin's Tyson Stevenson drives to the basket against Sioux Valley during the opening round of the State A Tournament in Sioux Falls on Thursday afternoon. Photo by Steph Bawdon

SIOUX FALLS – Hamlin died by a 3-point line in the first half, but was resurrected at the free=throw line in the second, as the Chargers came storming back from a 10-point deficit at halftime to claim a 72-64 win over fourth-seeded Sioux Valley Thursday afternoon in the opening round of the Class A Boys’ State Basketball Tournament in Sioux Falls.

Hamlin, which is making its first state tournament appearance in 30 years, took just five shots from inside the 3-point line in the opening half and, while mostly efficient from long range, the Chargers could not keep pace with a 2-loss Sioux Valley squad.

So, they changed tactics in the second half, supplementing a better shooting effort with an even more effective performance at the free-throw line. The Chargers were 18-of-24 from the line in the second half alone and 21-of-28 overall.

But, said Hamlin coach Todd Neuendorf, those halftime adjustments had very little to do with Xs and Os.

“Nothing with a marker that was used for adjustments,” Neuendorf said. “I just got after them a bit. We were playing scared. I challenged them. I challenged some guys to step up and they responded.”

Toss in a defensive effort that held Sioux Valley to just 26 percent shooting in the second half, and the result was an 18-point swing in the final two quarters of the contest.

“Part of what we were doing in the first half, we were shooting out of self defense,” Neuendorf said. “We were scared so we were just letting shots fly. In the second half we did a better job of attacking the rim.”

Sophomore Easton Neuendorf led the charge for Hamlin, going 15-for-18 from the free throw line. Neuendorf finished with 22 points while scoring just three field goals in the game. The coach’s son also had seven assists, four rebounds, a blocked shot and a steal in the game.

Easton Neuendorf of Hamlin looks for room to drive against Sioux Valley during the opening round of the Class A State Tournament on Thursday afternoon. Neuendorf finished with 22 points for the Chargers. Photo by Steph Bawdon.

“He’s been to a lot of state tournaments,” Coach Neuendorf said. “He’s been to eight of them but this is the first one he’s played in.”

Tyson Stevenson had 19 points on the strength of five 3-pointers. Three of those came in the third quarter, none bigger than his three that boosted the Chargers into the lead at the end of the third.

“Tyson has been solid for us all year,” Neuendorf said. “We ran a lot of our stuff for Tyson and he answered for some big threes.”

Evan Stormo added a dozen points and Brennan Keszler finished with 10.

Oliver Vincent paced the Cossacks with 31 points. Alec Squires, Sioux Valley’s 6-foot-10 center, finished with 11.

“For a young basketball team going against a veteran basketball team, we handled ourselves very well in the second half,” Neuendorf said.

The win marks Hamlin’s first win over Sioux Valley in 22 years, Neuendorf said, and the Chargers’ first opening-round victory at a state tournament since 1983. 

The Chargers move on to face top-seeded Dakota Valley in the semifinals today. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

“Out of the fire into the frying pan,” Neuendorf quipped. “Dakota Valley is the most solid team in for sure A basketball. They’re a pretty solid team that has won (51 in a row), so we’ll have our hands completely full. But when you get here, that’s what you expect. The alternative is that you’re not playing.”

HAMLIN (20-3): Easton Neuendorf 3 15-18 22, Brennan Keszler 5 0-0 10, Tyson Stevenson 6 2-4 19, Zac Van Meeteren 1 1-2 5, Evan Stormo 4 1-2 12, Jackson Wadsworth 1 1-2 4. Totals 20-45 21-28 72.

SIOUX VALLEY (21-3): Patrick Carey 1 1-2 3, Maverick Nelson 2 1-2 5, Oliver Vincent 11 7-10 31, Hudsyn Ruesink 3 0-0 6, Alex Squires 3 5-8 11, Boden Schiller 2 0-1 4, Maxwell Engebretson 1 0-0 3. Totals 23-58 14-23 64.

Hamlin 13 25 46 72

Sioux Valley 17 35 43 64

3-point field goals – Hamlin 11-30 (Neuendorf, Stevenson 5, Van Meeteren, Stormo 3, Wadsworth); Sioux Valley 4-26 (Carey, Vincent 2, Engebretson). Fouled out – Stevenson; Schiller. Rebounds – Hamlin 30 (Keszler 6); Sioux Valley 33 (Squires 9). Turnovers – Hamlin 11; Sioux Valley 10. Assists – Hamlin 14 (Neuendorf 7); Sioux Valley 11 (Vincent 6). Blocked shots – Hamlin 2; Sioux Valley 2. Steals – Hamlin 3; Sioux Valley 3.

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