The Class AA girls' basketball tournament has four entrants for next week's gathering in Rapid City. Four more schools get berths Saturday in the regional qualifiers.

Thursday night, Roosevelt knocked off the O'Gorman Knights 50-44. The Riders were favored. However, the Knights understandably had some confidence as they had won the 1AA title game over Roosevelt the last three years and held a 35-34 lead after three periods at RHS.

Chris Clark had no answers for O'G guard Dalee Stene who sank 17 points. But in the end the Riders made a few more plays and had three players in double-figures led by Paige Mriden's 16 point effort.

The 2AA title game was decided in the second half by Sioux Falls Washington's defense and the play of point guard Ellie Benson.

Benson scored 16 points, 11 in the second half as the Warriors beat Lincoln 55-37, outscoring the Pats 34-19 in the second half and forcing Lincoln to cough up the ball 22 times.

"It was a team effort but at halftime we challenged our top two players on our zone to be aggressive," said Washington coach Nate Malchow. "We told them the were going to have to take some things away and extend the zone to make it tough on the Lincoln perimeter offense."

What does Malchow think of his point guard Ellie Benson?

"I've coached a lot of great players, but her game instincts rank right up there with the best I've ever coached, that includes my time at Roosevelt and here at Washington. The girl just makes plays. She sees things on the defensive end before they happen. A tough kid, very underrated offensive player."

What does teammate Emma Hanson think of Ellie Benson?

"Ellie Benson is by far the best teammate I've ever played with. I never have to worry about our team, we are in good hands with Ellie. If our team is struggling, she will find a way to get us a win."

The sixth straight district title advances the Warriors to the Class AA State Tournament next week in Rapid City.

Lincoln came out with energy even without senior Darby Hugunin, who sat on the bench in street clothes. Coach Lyle Pearson said the Patriots were having trouble finding a suitable arm brace within the rules for Hugunin to safely play in. She scored 10 points Monday against Yankton, her first game back from breaking her arm in the third week of January. Pearson is hopeful but uncertain if Hugunin will play in the regional qualifier on Saturday.

Aberdeen Central nipped Miitchell 64-62 in the championship of District 3AA on Thursday at Golden Eagles Arena.  One of the few differences in this game was Aberdeen's15 offensive rebounds to just five by Mitchell.  As a result Aberdeen got to the foul line and it put pressure on Mitchell’s defense.

“It was hard fought,” Mitchell coach Wes Morgan told the media following the game. “They missed a couple baskets over the top and they would get the rebound on the back side. They are taller than we are, so we have to get in there and back them out.”

Brynn Flakus scored the game-winner on a driving layup and supported the winning effort with 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Central was led by Sammy Knecht with 21 points.
Mitchell got Macy Miller’s game-high 28 points. Also the Kernels received 14 points from Kristin Sabers and 10 from Kerri Young.

In the District 4AA championship Rapid City Central downed Sturgis 41-40. Taylor Bauer converted a three-point play with two seconds to play, lifting the Cobblers to a wild over Sturgis at Howard Naasz Gymnasium.

The Cobblers battled back from a six-point, fourth-quarter deficit after leading by as much as 10 in the second quarter. Central, 14-7, played well early, but suddenly was ice cold for much of the second quarter until the final minutes.

Saturday Regional Play
Lincoln hosts Watertown and the Yankton Gazelles head to Sioux Falls to take on O’Gorman on Saturday in Region 1AA both games at 7p.m. Meanwhile, Mitchell will host Rapid City Stevens in a Region 2AA game at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Corn Palace in Mitchell.  Sturgis, 8-14, will face Pierre. The winners will advance to state.

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