When Ryan Mors accepted the athletic director job in Yankton six years ago, he brought his son, Matthew, to the Yankton High School Summit Activities Center. In the rafters hung a banner commemorating the 1978 boys basketball team, the last to bring a state championship to Yankton. When he saw that banner, the then-fourth grader told his father, “Dad, I’m going to win Yankton a state basketball title.”
That’s exactly what he did Saturday night at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.
Matthew, now a freshman for the Bucks, poured in a game-high 18 points to lead No. 11 Yankton to a dramatic 39-37 win over No. 4 Harrisburg in the Class AA state championship game. Mors hit 6 of 14 shots from the field, including a critical jumper as the shot clock expired to give Yankton a 39-35 lead with 16 seconds left.
“To do this for everybody that’s ever been to Yankton – it means everything,” Mors said. “It’s been forever since we did it, and hopefully we can keep getting here and keep giving ourselves a shot.”
Harrisburg, which trailed by 15 points late in the third quarter, stormed back with a 22-9 run finished with a fast break layup by Ace Zorr that cut the score to 39-37 with 9 seconds left. Down, but not out, the Tigers caught a major break, when Casey Krejci missed the front-end of a 1-and-1 with seven seconds left.
After two sides burned through the last of their timeouts with 2.4 seconds left, Harrisburg inbounded the ball to Brady VanHolland. VanHolland frantically dribbled around the top of the arc, but by the time he pulled up for a shot, time had expired.
“Two-and-a-half seconds, you don’t have a lot of time to make the decision right there,” Harrisburg coach Scott Langerock said. “In those situations, it takes extreme concentration. I thought we did an okay job with that, we just missed the shot.”
Despite being outscored by 13 points over the final 11 minutes of regulation, the Bucks never relinquished the lead, hanging on down the stretch for the dramatic two-point lead.
It was an emphatic end to the 2017-18 Class AA season and a strong finish to what was a remarkable run for the 11th-seeded Bucks.
“Our goal was to get to the state semifinals,” said Mors, who hit the game-winning shot to stun Lincoln and end a 37-year run without a quarterfinals win for Yankton. “We got there and we won, so we figured we might as well get one more since we’re there.”