In a span of roughly four minutes, the Sioux Falls Christian boys saw their state tournament hopes dashed with a feverish Dell Rapids run in the fourth quarter to drop the Chargers 67-63 in the District 6A championship Friday night at the Elmen Center in Sioux Falls.
Undefeated entering the matchup, SFC led 49-43 with just under six minutes remaining before a leaner by Cole Langer jumpstarted the Quarriers, who will face Madison for the Region 3A title on Tuesday night and potential third consecutive state tourney berth.
Chargers senior guard Cody Van Holland followed with a 3-pointer on the next possession, but that would be the only S.F. Christian answer for some time as Dell Rapids ripped off 13-straight points to take a six-point lead with 1:50 to play.
“We’ve been shooting the ball a little bit better lately,” said Quarriers coach Jason Fersdahl, whose team found offense from almost everywhere during the key stretch. “A lot of teams try to pack it in on us and it opens up some things on the outside. And the more shots we can hit from the perimeter, the more it’s going to open up the inside again.”
The Chargers cut the lead to three on a Nick Stern 3 in the final 30 seconds and pulled within two after Bryce Koch hit 1 of 2 free throws on the next Dells trip while Carson Long sank a pair at the line to make it a 65-63 game.
However, Sioux Falls Christian (21-1) was unable to get the steal on the ensuing possession and wasn’t whistled for a foul as multiple Chargers went for the strip on Langer, while the 6-foot-2 senior guard found freshman Ty Hoglund down the floor for the easy layup that sealed the win.
Langer finished with 15 points while Koch had 24 and Jacob Morris 11, including a pair of long 3s to give the Quarriers a jolt in the second quarter.
“Bryce and Cole are our senior leaders and they bring a calming influence to the floor, and I think our other guys felt that tonight,” said Fersdahl. “Ty and Jacob definitely stepped up and hit some big shots when we needed them in the first half.”
Koch was especially effective in terms of neutralizing 6-6 center Jordan Baker, who imposed his will on the Quarriers (17-5) in the previous meeting with 11 points and 19 rebounds.
Baker was held to single-digits in both categories while battling foul trouble on Friday.
“Bryce did a good job on him all night,” said Langer, recognizing an all-around team effort. “Jacob was hitting some deep 3s and Bryce just dominated the paint.”
Meanwhile, Long finished with 19 points and Van Holland 18 for the Chargers, who were playing with heavy hearts because of the death of a classmate last weekend.
“We knew it would be a tough game. You’ve got to give Dells a lot of credit. They shot the ball well. They made plays on defense, got stops when they needed them and got steals at opportune times,” said SFC coach Mike Schouten. “But our kids didn’t quit. And under the circumstances of a difficult week, I’m really proud of them.”