RAPID CITY — No. 2 Roosevelt nearly erased a 21-point deficit, but its comeback efforts fell short in a 62-49 loss to No. 5 Rapid City Stevens in the Class AA girls consolation championship game.
“We just knew that we didn’t want to go out on such a tough loss,” senior Peyton Stolle said. “That’s obviously not the way we wanted it to end, but I’m really proud of how we fought back.”
Tahia Mitzel led the Riders with 11 points, four assists and a steal.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: Class AA state tournaments
Teammate Tatum Kooima finished with nine points and a couple of assists, while Taylor Bonestroo, Mackenzie Phillips and Stolle all added seven points. Bonestroo also posted a team-high six assists.
Roosevelt finished with assists on 14 of its 18 made field goals, and was a near-perfect seven-for-eight from the free throw line.
“I’m really proud of these kids. I love these kids,” coach David Maxwell said. “Obviously, we didn’t come out here to get sixth place, but that’s life. We’re going to learn a lot from the hardships and struggles. It’s such a valuable weekend for us in more than just basketball.”
The Riders, who fell behind by 21 early in the second quarter, made their push late in the third quarter.
Kooima sparked the 14-2 run with a couple of 3-pointers to close out the third quarter, then Mitzel finished it off with a 2-point jumper that trimmed the score to 47-44 with 5:12 left.
But then the Raiders started to heat back up, accounting for 11 of the game’s next 14 points to push its lead back to double digits with two minutes remaining.
“We talked at halftime about just whittling away, whittling away,” Maxwell said. “We made a few adjustments and started making a run. But they were a good team. They handled the pressure a little bit better after a little bit and made some big shots down the stretch.”
“We really didn’t want to end our season like this, so we really wanted to push through it and try to get the win,” Mitzel said. “Sadly, it didn’t end the way we wanted it to.”
Rapid City Stevens had four finish in double figures, led by Kyah Watson who tallied a game-high 17 points on 5 of 6 shooting. She also added seven assists, a block and two steals. Mya Hendry finished with 14 points, Emma Burns had 12 and Julia Haefs notched 10.
As a team, RCS shot 54 percent from the field and was 7-for-12 from behind the arc.
Roosevelt (18-8) graduates six seniors off its roster in Mitzel, Bonestroo, Phillips, Stolle, Kira Ward and Katie Johnson.
“I couldn’t be happier to have the group of six seniors that we have,” said Maxwell, who is in his second year as Roosevelt coach. “They’ve gotten Roosevelt back to the state tournament two years in-a-row and that’s exactly where we need to be.”
“We had such a great group,” Stolle said. “I could not have asked for a better group of seniors. We’ve all played together from such a young age, it was amazing to go out in a state tournament like this. I love them.”
Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen .