They’re back at State!
Flier girls stop St. Thomas More’s State run
PIERRE – The Flandreau girls’ basketball team will finally get to play in the State Tournament. The No. 12 seeded Fliers pulled off a shocker on Thursday night as they knocked off the defending State Champions in No. 5 seeded St. Thomas More, 47-38.
It will be the first time since 1997 that the Flier girls will participate in the State Tournament as they qualified in 2020, but the tournament was canceled due to COVID. Flandreau head coach Megan Severtson was very excited that her team was able to get the win in the SoDak 16 after coming up short the past two seasons, especially since her team is carried by three juniors who were on the team in 2020 in Claire Sheppard, Lily Klein and Lizzie Pavlis.
“I think you have to be careful as a coach about looking at the past, but obviously [not making it to State] has been in my head constantly. But I think having these juniors with us, they were eighth graders when we qualified for the State Tournament in 2020, and they’ve played the past couple years with a chip on their shoulder because they felt like they kind of got robbed of that experience,” Severtson said.
The 38 points that the Fliers (19-4) held the Cavaliers (17-5) to were the third least this season for STM. It was the eighth straight game that the Fliers held an opponent to under 42 points and Severtson said she thought her team did a great job on STM’s Reese Ross, who is committed to play basketball at Utah next year.
“Reese Ross is a really good player, and St. Thomas More is a really well-coached team. They run a lot of offensive sets that are hard to defend. I just thought our girls did a really good job of buying into the game plan of just being a team defense and that being our focus. We knew no one individually would be able to stop Reese Ross and we knew that no one individually would be able to cover the other four talented players as well. I just thought we did a good job of depending on each other and found a way to come away with the win,” Severtson said.
The Cavaliers came out hot as Ross netted a three-pointer after 18 seconds had ticked off the clock. The Fliers would trail 9-8 at the end of the first quarter but took a 16-15 lead into the locker room led by a Klein to Sadie Iott assist and basket with 21 second left which erased the last lead the Cavaliers would hold.
Flandreau would then use a run in the third quarter outscoring STM 14-7 to go up 30-22 at the end of the quarter fueled by another Iott basket, this time a three near the buzzer, which was a huge crowd motivator as well. The Fliers would increase the lead to double digits in the final frame and hit key free throws down the stretch (10 of 10 in the final two minutes) to come away with the win.
Klein led the Fliers with 13 points and six rebounds. Sadie Iott had 13 points and Sheppard had 12 points. Pavlis had nine points and 13 rebounds. Ross led STM with 23 points.
STM beat Flandreau 54-34 at the Corn Palace in Mitchell on Jan. 14. The Fliers have now won 15 straight games and Severtson said that loss (in January) to the Cavs changed their season.
“I think [the first game against STM] was a huge motivator for us. After that game, we knew that that wasn’t going to be our identity for the rest of the season and I think that going into tonight, our girls just expected to play better. We knew that if we kept it close throughout the game and gave ourselves a chance, we would leave tonight with a win,” Severtson said.
Flandreau will be the No. 8 seed in the Class A State Tournament at the Watertown Civic Center next weekend. The Fliers will take on No. 1 seeded Hamlin at noon on Thursday and the Chargers have not lost a game this season. Severtson said she just wants her players to keep believing in themselves and have the same mentality they had on Thursday night.
“Going into tournament, our first-round matchup is Hamlin, who is an opponent that we’re familiar with and that makes it a little better for the coaching staff for that game. … But they’re 19-0 and we’re going against an undefeated team. We’re just going to go into it with the mentality that we’ve had this last half of the season. Our identity is our defense and we have to play solid offensively,” Severtson said.
The other Class A State Tournament matchups include No. 4 Red Cloud versus No. 5 Lakota Tech at 1:45 p.m., No. 2 Wagner and No. 7 Rapid City Christian at 6 p.m. and No. 3 Sioux Falls Christian and No. 6 Sisseton at 7:45 p.m. You can watch all of the games on South Dakota Public Broadcasting.