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Hamlin turns back Flandreau upset bid

Hamlin’s Marissa Bawson, left, drives around Flandreau’s Sadie Iott, center, during Thursday’s opening round of the South Dakota Class A Girls State Basketball Tournament in Watertown. Photo by John Davis taken 3/9/2023

WATERTOWN – Hamlin found itself in foreign territory Thursday afternoon, before the Chargers responded to return to a position they know very well.

The top-seeded squad rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit to move into the semifinal round for the third straight year after a 42-32 opening round win over Flandreau during the Class A State Girls’ Basketball Tournament at the Watertown Arena.

Trailing 28-25 the unbeaten Chargers went on a 15-2 surge to put the game away. It started with a 3-pointer from Addie Neuendorf and then featured five straight points from Marissa Bawdon.

“It was good for us to be able to win that first round,” said Hamlin coach Tim Koisti. “We haven’t been behind, especially late in the fourth quarter a lot, so for them to have that type of composure to come through. Marissa is a big-time shooter. She’s proven it all year long. That’s kind of been what teams have been doing to us, they double off of her or double off of one of our guards and they always seem to be able to make a shot when we need it.”

The pivotal stretch also included two put-back offensive rebounds by Kami Wadsworth as Hamlin took control.

The late-game flurry foiled a stellar defensive effort by Flandreau, which kept the Chargers from getting into a rhythm for much of the game.

“I was happy with the position that we put ourselves in at the end of the game,” said Flandreau coach Megan Severtson. “It was a lot closer than the score appears, but in big game situations you have to rise up to the occasion. And just putting a couple of extra plays together tonight would have been huge for our team. But in the same way, you look at Hamlin and they’re a great team. There’s a reason they’re number one. There’s a reason they’re undefeated.”

Koisti knew his team would have to find a way to come up with enough offense against the Fliers.

Hamlin’s Kami Wadsworth, center, puts up a shot between Flandreau’s Hannah Krull (14), Lily Klein (10) and Claire Sheppard (32) during Thursday’s opening round of the South Dakota Class A Girls State Basketball Tournament in Watertown. Photo by John Davis taken 3/9/2023

“You just knew they were going to bring their defense,” Koisti said. “Megan does such a great job with them. You just knew they were going to be ready.”

With Wadsworth the center of attention in the lane, other Chargers had to step up and Bawdon came up clutch with a pair of free throws and a key 3-pointer with 3:31 left.

“I just felt it was in. Not to be cocky, but I knew my shot was going to fall, because it wasn’t earlier, but my team had my back,” Bawdon said. “They were like, ‘Hey Marissa you got this. You need to keep shooting.’ And I was like yep, I got it.”

As solid as Flandreau’s defense was, Hamlin’s was just as potent, allowing just five points in the final six minutes of the game.

“We really scouted them very well,” Bawdon said. “Coach gave us a really good scout on them and we practiced over and over again.”

The Chargers were able to hold Flandreau’s Claire Sheppard to eight points, half of her normal total.

“A lot of that is asking Claire Sheppard, who is probably our biggest offensive threat, asking her to defend Wadsworth most of the game long and expecting her then to have the energy on the offensive end,” Severtson said. “She did a very job defensively, tonight.”

Lizzie Pavlis also scored eight points for the Fliers, while Lily Klein and Sadie Iott each contributed seven. Flandreau (18-5) meets Lakota Tech in consolation action at noon today.

Hamlin’s Addison Neuendorf, left, tries to drive around Flandreau’s Sadie Iott, right, during Thursday’s opening round of the South Dakota Class A Girls State Basketball Tournament in Watertown. Photo by John Davis taken 3/9/2023

Wadsworth finished with 18 points to lead Hamlin, Neuendorf followed with 12 and Bawdon had 10.

The Chargers (22-0) are back in the semifinals tonight where they will take on Red Cloud at around 7:45.

“It’s always nice to get into the evening session,” Koisti said. “It makes life a lot easier. You don’t have to get up quite as early and things like that. Just having the opportunity to play at night in front of our fans is going to be amazing.”

FLANDREAU (18-5): Lily Klein 3 0-0 7, Hannah Krull 2 0-0 4, Sadie Iott 3 0-0 7, Lizzie Pavlis 3 0-0 8, Claire Sheppard 2 4-5 8. Totals 13-48 4-5 32.

HAMLIN (22-0): Addison Neuendorf 3 3-4 12, Ally Abraham 1 0-1 2, Kami Wadsworth 6-13 4-5 18, Marissa Bawdon 3 2-2 10. Totals 13-39 9-12 42.

Flandreau 10 16 25 32

Hamlin 15 22 25 42

3-point field goals – Flandreau 2-12 (Klein, Iott); Hamlin 7-20 (Neuendorf 3, Wadsworth 2, Bawdon 2). Fouled out – Klein. Total fouls – Flandreau 13; Hamlin 10. Rebounds – Flandreau 26 (Pavlis 8); Hamlin 28 Abraham 9). Turnovers – Flandreau 8; Hamlin 9. Assists – Flandreau 0; Hamlin 3. Steals – Flandreau 6 (Klein 2, Krull 2); Hamlin 5 (Neuendorf 2, Abraham 2).

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