All three girls basketball teams from the area had their seasons cut short before reaching the SoDak 16.
Dell Rapids and Baltic each lost in the opening round of the Region 3A tournament. The sixth-seeded Quarriers lost 63-47 to No. 3 Garretson and No. 5 Baltic lost 54-36 to No. 4 Tri-Valley. Sioux Falls Christian and Tri-Valley are the two schools to come out of the region to advance to the SoDak 16.
For St. Mary, the Cardinals were ranked No. 5 in Region 4B and got an opening round win in the region tournament with a 49-47 win over Howard. However, the Cards couldn’t get passed No. 1 Hanson in the next round, cutting St. Mary’s season one game short of the SoDak 16.
But getting that opening round win is a momentum-builder for next year according to St. Mary coach Macie Michelson. It also came with some late-game heroics.
The Cards trailed the entire fourth quarter before Courtney Brown’s 3-pointer gave St. Mary the 49-47 lead with ten seconds to play. Howard had a couple of chances to tie in the final seconds, but those attempts rimmed out and the Cards advanced.
“It was awesome,” Michelson said of the St. Mary locker room after the win. “There was a lot of energy. It’s definitely a momentum builder.”
The Cards were also in it in the Hanson game at the Huron Arena before losing by 13. They had it down to five points with less than two minutes to play before things snowballed down the stretch.
“The girls were obviously tight at the beginning of that game,” Michelson said. “But I thought they handled themselves well. They didn’t quit.”
The Cards lose two senior starters for next year, including leading scorer Ella Heinitz at 14.4 points per game. She also averages 4.7 rebounds per game. Karlie Klein is the other senior . She averaged 6.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. That’s nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds per game the Cardinals will have to replace, but Michelson said she feels confident about next year.
“I’m excited for next year. Our seniors will be missed, but the core group is coming back again, and that group is going to be special,” she said. “If we get in the gym this off-season and get better at the things that we need to get better at and add a few things to our game, I think we can make another run. These kids don’t quit.”
St. Mary ended the season 15-7 and returns three starters in Brown Ella Griffin and Sydney Klein.
Quarriers finish strong
Despite being bounced in the opening round of the region tournament, Dell Rapids seemingly got better as the year went on. The Quarriers lost their first eight games before finally notching a win on Jan. 16 against Milbank.
But down the stretch, Dells went 5-7 to finish out the regular season and finished the year at 5-16 with the loss to Garretson in the regions.
That momentum, along with four starters returning, has head coach Dustin Steckler eager for the 2021-22 campaign.
Mady Vanoverbeke was the team’s leading scorer this year at eight points per game and will be back for her senior season next year. The Quarriers also return starters Haileigh Barnhart, Zoey Hilmoe and Maggie Schmidt. Jayme Schmidt and Alli De Stigter also had spotty starts this season. All of those returners will be seniors, and Steckler said that experience will no doubt help next year.
“The nice thing going into next season is that the girls have a good idea of what we’re doing and what we’re running offensively and defensively,” he said. “We can hop into it and continue to get better at it.”
Baltic struggles down the stretch
At one point in the middle of the season, Baltic was 6-6. But now in just its fourth year competing in Class A, Baltic hit the teeth of its schedule and lost six of its last nine games to finish 8-13.
In that tough stretch, the Bulldogs lost to Dell Rapids, West Central, Lennox and Flandreau – all tried and true Class A teams for several years.
“We’re still trying to climb that ladder and get to their level at all times,” head coach Shawn Geigle said. “There were a lot of games where we had chances to make runs, but just couldn’t make that move in some of those games to turn things in our direction.”
But like Dell Rapids, the Bulldogs return four starters for next year in Sami Polzin, Cami Artz, Berklee Erickson and Kami Van Wyhe. Senior Kylie Schneider averaged nine points per game this year for Baltic, but Geigle said he’s encouraged with a lot of the scoring load returning.
“Players are always disappointed when you can’t move on and get a chance at that next game and getting closer to a state tournament,” Geigle said of Baltic’s region loss. “But I think with that junior group coming back, we can get better. It’s going to be a good summer to work with them and for them to push each other.”