Chargers soar into showdown with Madison

Chargers soar into showdown with Madison

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Chargers soar into showdown with Madison

Sioux Falls Christian's Tyler Van Horssen goes up for a shot while Mt. Vernon/Plankinton Brady Andersen defends during the Class A boy's basketball quarterfinals on Thursday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

Sioux Falls Christian’s Tyler Van Horssen goes up for a shot while Mt. Vernon/Plankinton Brady Andersen defends during the Class A boy’s basketball quarterfinals on Thursday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

Moments after Sioux Falls Christian put the finishing touches on a 72-44 first-round win over Mount Vernon/Plankinton in the Class A state tournament, attention turned to Friday’s semifinals.

That’s where the defending champion Chargers will face familiar rival Madison in a high-impact showdown at the Denny Sanford Premier Center, with title aspirations on the line.

“We’ll both have a lot of energy coming out for that one,” said SFC junior Koln Oppold, whose 17 points and eight rebounds helped the fourth-seeded Chargers (19-5) pull away Thursday for a comfortable win. “There won’t be many mismatches for either team, so we’ll need to be ready.”

Madison, which claimed four state titles in six years from 2009-14 before SFC broke through last year, has been a frequent nemesis of the Chargers, posting a 67-64 conference victory in Sioux Falls on Jan. 20 that helped the Bulldogs seize the No. 1 seed.

“Over the years these games have been classics – well played and intense and tight to the end,” said SFC coach Mike Schouten. “I assume it will be the same thing this time. We see each other a lot and are familiar with each other, so it usually comes down to heart and desire.”

Under the old postseason format, those matchups typically occurred before the state tournament, but now things have changed.

So after seeing Madison take out Dakota Valley in Thursday’s opener, SFC focused on using its superior size against Mount Vernon/Plankinton (19-4) while jumping out to an early lead.

Sophomore Gavin Schipper scored 12 points off the bench and 6-foot-6 senior Dejay Fykstra added 11 for SFC, including a tip-in at the end of the first quarter to put his team up 16-11.

“We had a size advantage at just about every position, and we wanted to take advantage of that,” said Schouten, whose team outrebounded the Titans 45-28 and held them to 30-percent shooting in the first half. “That was part of our game plan and it went pretty well for us.”

Senior forward Devin Rihanek had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Mount Vernon/Plankinton, which fought back to pull within 18-16 on a Taylen Trisco basket with 5:15 left in the half. But the Chargers responded with a 13-2 run to lead 31-18 at intermission after an Oppold putback at the halftime buzzer.

“They got off to a fast start, and we climbed back into it and had them on their heels a bit,” said Titans coach Eric Denning, whose team will face Dakota Valley in the consolation round. “But that run at the end of the half set us back a bit, and we were just fighting it after that.”

The Titans struggled to defend SFC’s penetration as the defending champs shot 50 percent the rest of the way to seal the outcome, setting the stage for high drama in the semifinals.

“Our kids have played in a lot of tough games and environments, and so has Madison,” said Schouten. “I feel like we’ll both be ready, so it’s a matter of who plays better on that night.”

Sioux Falls Christian's Lee Vande Kamp (10) and Dejay Fykstra (23) block Mt. Vernon/Plankinton's Cody Muilenburg from scoring during the Class A boy's basketball quarterfinals on Thursday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

Sioux Falls Christian’s Lee Vande Kamp (10) and Dejay Fykstra (23) block Mt. Vernon/Plankinton’s Cody Muilenburg from scoring during the Class A boy’s basketball quarterfinals on Thursday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

Sioux Falls Christian's Sawyer Prins (20) and Dejay Fykstra (23) watch their teammates play against Mt. Vernon/Plankinton during the Class A boy's basketball quarterfinals on Thursday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

Sioux Falls Christian’s Sawyer Prins (20) and Dejay Fykstra (23) watch their teammates play against Mt. Vernon/Plankinton during the Class A boy’s basketball quarterfinals on Thursday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

Mt. Vernon/Plankinton's Jacob Clark goes up for a shot while Sioux Falls Christian's Dejay Fykstra defends during the Class A boy's basketball quarterfinals on Thursday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

Mt. Vernon/Plankinton’s Jacob Clark goes up for a shot while Sioux Falls Christian’s Dejay Fykstra defends during the Class A boy’s basketball quarterfinals on Thursday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

Sioux Falls Christian's cheerleader reacts while they boy's basketball team plays against Mt. Vernon/Plankinton during the Class A quarterfinals on Thursday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

Sioux Falls Christian’s cheerleader reacts while they boy’s basketball team plays against Mt. Vernon/Plankinton during the Class A quarterfinals on Thursday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

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