Winner High School boys basketball team made history when they took third place at the State A tournament Saturday in Rapid City.
The Warriors defeated Little Wound 60-54 in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in the third place game.
Two members of the Winner team were named to the all-tournament team. Chosen for the honor squad were seniors Brendan Harter and Nathan Galbraith.
In the first quarter, Little Wound bolted to a 17-9 lead. However, in the second quarter Winner scored 27 points and limited the Mustangs to just seven points to take a 36-24 lead at halftime.
“We were able to get some steals on our press that led to buckets and we were able to get some points that were key and a big lead at halftime,” said coach Brett Gardner.
After Winner stretched its lead to 41-27 in the third quarter, Little Wound came roaring back and cut the Warriors lead to five 48-43. Sam Naasz scored two baskets to extend the Winner lead to 52-43. Little Wound rallied again drawing within three 55-52 with 1:20 remaining in the game.
A basket by Lattrell Terkildsen gave Winner a 57-54 lead with 50 seconds remaining.
With 17 seconds left both Brendan Harter and Terkildren made the two biggest free throws of their lives.
Harter hit the front end of two shots and Terkildsen was at the line with 7 seconds left making the first of two shots to seal the victory.
The huge Winner crowd was on hits feet in the final 23 seconds cheering on the home town team.
“We did not play as well as we should have in the second half but we won the game and that is what matters,” said senior Nathan Galbraith.
The senior said the key to Winner’s victory was that they were able to box out Little Wound’s 7 foot player.
Sam Naasz added after the game that the Warriors were not going to settle for fourth place. “We were not going to step off the court without getting a third place trophy,” he said.
Leading the scoring for Winner in this game was Harter with 16 points, Galbraith, 14 and Sam Naasz, 12.
Harter had 9 rebounds and Galbraith, 7. Galbriath had 5 assists with Nick Hossle and Naasz added 3 each.
“My team trusted me to guard the seven footer and I went out and did my best to try and stop him,” said Harter.
“All year our saying was that our offense would come if we take care of the defensive end,” said coach Brett Gardner.
“We are so proud of the boys for what they have done. We wanted to end with a win,” said Gardner. “We have a great group of boys who would not quit. They wanted this so bad, especially the seniors.”
The coach said this team will leave a legacy at Winner High School.
The Warriors entered the state tournament as the Region 6A champions after defeating Cheyenne-Eagle Butte in overtime.
In Winner’s first game of the state meet on Thursday they defeated St Thomas More 54-42. This is the first time Winner has won a first round game in a state tournament.
The Warriors outscored the Cavaliers 20-9 in the third quarter to take care of the game.
Harter led the Warriors in scoring with 17 points and Galbraith added 14.
Winner led 20-17 at the half. The second half of the game was all Winner on both sides of the ball.
Winner shot 40 percent from the field and 50 percent from the free throw line.
“We defended the whole time. If you can hold a team like St. Thomas More to 44 points you are doing a good job,” said Gardner.
The coach said Harter did what he had to do and played a monster game. Gardner added Galbraith went to the rim and got the Warriors some points. Sam Naasz defended their best player and chipped in 12 points.
The coach added Terkildsen, Hossle and Devon Leiferman played valuable minutes.
The coach said the team really stepped it up in the second half playing right way, the Warrior way.
Harter said after the St. Thomas More game that this team wanted to do something that no other Winner team has every done and that is to win a first round game.
Galbraith added the key to the victory was defense.
The senior was excited as the points added up on the Winner side of the scoreboard. “Holy cow, we are going to win this game and do something that no other Winner team has every done,” said Galbraith.
But with four minutes left in the game, Galbraith knew that the Winner could not let up. “We kept playing as hard as we could.”
Friday morning the Warriors had a shoot around at the South Dakota School of Mines gym to get ready for the semifinals where they faced Dell Rapids.
In a hard fought game, Dell Rapids edged Winner 52-47 Friday night.
A tight game throughout, the Quarriers biggest lead was seven points in the second half after trailing by four at the end of the first period.
The game went down to the wire with Winner having a final shot to possibly tie the game, only to turn the ball over in the finals seconds.
Dell Rapids led 25-21 at the half and it was close at the end of three quarters with Dells on top 35-32.
Galbraith led all scorers with 22 points and Leiferman added 11 points. Harter had 8 points and Terkildsen, 6.
Galbraith pulled down 10 rebounds and Harter, 8.
Winner was 17 of 55 from the field for 33 percent and 7 of 12 for 58 percent from the line.
In the fourth quarter, Winner cut the lead by three (41-38) with 3:44 left on a Galbraith three pointer and a free throw by Harter.
It was still a three point game before Dells made a three point shot and extended its lead to six. Winner cut it to 3 again on a Galbraith 3 pointer.
Trailing by five later in this period, Terkildsen made a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left.
The Warriors got the ball back when Dell Rapids was called for a foul on an in-bounds pass.
Winner missed a short jumper and then missed a three pointer to tie the game.
Galbraith said the loss really hit the Winner team in the heart. “We picked each other up with the help of the coaching staff and moved forward. We knew we had another game to play,” said the senior.