Playing in the Class A state basketball tournament for the first time since 2014, the Tri-Valley Mustangs looked to make the most of their opportunity.
No. 7-seeded Tri-Valley did just that as they rebounded from an early deficit to defeat second-seeded Chamberlain 59-47 Thursday night at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.
With the win, the Mustangs, winners of nine straight and 16 of their last 17 games, advance to Friday night’s semifinal round where they will take on Dakota XII Conference foe Tea Area.
It’s quite the turnaround after starting the season 2-5.
“For the last month and a half, we’ve just been playing really really good basketball,” Tri-Valley coach Rob Grady said. “I keep telling the guys one game at a time and just keep playing the way you have been.”
The Mustangs opened the night’s scoring with a layup from Noah Jewett just 16 seconds into the game. The Cubs swung the momentum back in their favor as they scored 14 of the next 21 points to take a 14-9 lead at the end of the opening stanza.
In the second quarter, Chamberlain pushed their advantage to as many as nine at 22-13 following a 3-pointer from Riggs Priebe with 3:44 remaining.
Tri-Valley responded with a 10-0 run with the last point coming via free throw from Will Steineke at the 1:50 mark to go ahead 23-22.
“That was huge to get back into the game like that,” Grady said. “Our kids just kept playing and kept doing the stuff that we always do and got a good win.”
In the second half, the Cubs opened with back-to-back baskets from Dodge Knippling to take a 28-26 lead with 6:49 left in the third quarter. Tri-Valley took the lead back at 29-28 on a three-pointer from Jayden Burggraff at the 6:04 mark.
The Mustangs out-scored Chamberlain 10-6 the rest of the quarter to enjoy a 39-34 advantage heading into the final stanza. Burggraff had nine of Tri-Valley’s 16 points in the quarter.
The Mustangs would lead the rest of the way as their lead reached as many as 12 at 59-47 following a pair of free throws from Burggraff with 11 seconds remaining. Neither team scored the rest of the way to arrive at the final margin.
Burggraff paced Tri-Valley (18-6) with a game-high 22 points. He said playing in the Dakota XII Conference helped prepare his team for the state tournament.
“It’s a tough conference,” he said. “I know we enjoyed playing in it. We love playing in it because it gives us great competition.
Steineke and Jewett joined Burggraff scoring in double figures for the Mustangs as they finished with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Steineke pulled 10 rebounds for a double-double and also distributed six assists.
Chamberlain (19-4), who will face St. Thomas More Friday afternoon in the consolation round, was led by Seth Friesz as he scored a team-high 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Cubs coach Adam Nelson shared about his team having the opportunity to play in the Denny Sanford Premier Center.
“It’s a nice venue,” Cubs coach Adam Nelson said about the Premier Center. “It’s a good atmosphere. It’s neat and has that college feel to it and the kids enjoy that.”