RAPID CITY, S.D. - The boys may have drawn the larger crowds for their tournament but the Girls Lakota Nation Invitational brought about some thrilling basketball.
The Champions, Red Cloud Lady Crusaders won the title and the trophy by using determination and a not-give-up attitude to defeat a skilled but scrappy Hill City Ranger's team 50-39.
The first half belonged to Hill City, but the Lady Crusaders started the third quarter with some hot-handed shooting by Tate Locust and a banked in shot from her hip from Timory Jacobs that put Red Cloud ahead to begin the third quarter of play.
Red Cloud kept up the pressure the rest of the second half and Hill City could not dig deep enough to get back in the game against the strength of the Lady Crusaders, Hill City coach Bryce Schaffer said.
After the game, the Lady Crusaders said they knew they could win the tournament.
Red Cloud coach Mary Tobacco said the team has been working hard on patience while on offense and the people on the court for the championship game could control the ball. Tobacco was awarded the outstanding coach of the tournament.
Hill City came into the championship with a 13 and 5 record; Red Cloud now has a 13 and 4 record. The Girls LNI comes at the end of the season with district and regional tournaments getting underway in March. The two top teams are considered to be favorites in their districts.
Tate Locust dropped 20 points for Red Cloud; Timory Jacobs and Joni Morrisette each followed with 10 and Marissa O'Bryan had 2-points. For the Rangers, Rachelle Frasier had 18; Anna Nelson, 8; Alexis Krull 7 points.
Joni Morrisette was selected the most valuable player for the tournament.
Third Place in the LNI went to Douglas High School, a non-Indian team who beat St. Thomas More, another non-Indian team, 42-28.
Little Wound from Kyle on the Pine Ridge Reservation beat Pine Ridge 55 to 45 for fifth place. In the fifth place game Laura Big Crow turned in a double-double with 27 points and 16 rebounds, which was the most rebounds in one game for the tournament; she also earned the defensive player award.
Seventh place went to Cheyenne-Eagle Butte over Custer, 41-31. Cheyenne-Eagle Butte is on the Cheyenne River Reservation and Custer is a non-Indian team. The Custer boys won the boys LNI in December and are the number one team in the state with a 17-0 record.
McLaughlin, a public school on the Standing Rock Reservation beat St. Francis from Rosebud, 56 to 22 to take ninth place. Brittni Walker from McLaughlin, scored the most points during the tournament.
Todd County on the Rosebud Reservation beat Takini 60-38 for 11th place. Takini is located on the Cheyenne River Reservation.
Thirteenth place went to Crow Creek over Crazy Horse 70 to 48. Crow Creek High School is on the Crow Creek reservation and Crazy Horse is located on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The Custer JVs took 15th place over Lower Brule 39-24.
The All-tourney team includes Tate Locust, Red Cloud; Ann Chasing Hawk, Takini; Sara Buckman, Little Wound; Joni Morrisette, Red Cloud; Laura Big Crow, Pine Ridge; Stevi Brings Plenty, Cheyenne-Eagle Butte; Sheneka Lee, Douglas; Katie Harlow, St. Thomas More; Alexis Krull, Hill City; Elizabeth Daly, Douglas; Brittni Walker, McLaughlin; Sunni Busch, Todd County; Ashley Bryant, Custer; Kaye Donnelly, St. Thomas More; Gina Coy, Hill City.