Boys fall short in SoDak 16

Jason Ferguson
By Jason Ferguson
The Custer High School boys basketball team had its season ended one game short of the state tournament March 10, falling to the Crow Creek Chieftains 68-51 in SoDak 16 play in a game played in Kadoka.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Custer head coach Paul Kelley “The second quarter killed us. We struggled to score and had too many turnovers, and they capitalized on that.”
The Wildcats trailed only 13-8 at the end of the first quarter, but by halftime found themselves behind 36-21.
“We couldn’t hit an outside shot in the first half. When we got to the rim we couldn’t finish,” Kelley said.
Kelley said he knew his team would need to contain Chieftan forwards Luke Wells and Teron Sazue, but the two combined for 37 points, as the Chieftains attacked the Wildcats in the paint.
“We struggled containing them inside. They are such good passers and have such great vision seeing each other,” he said. “That just caused us fits.”
The Wildcats were able to cut the lead to 11 at one point in the game with a shot at whittling the lead to single digits but couldn’t get over the jump.
Jace Kelley led the team in scoring with 28 points, but no other Wildcat cracked double digits. The Wildcats shot only 33 percent from the floor in the game.
The Wildcats close out their season with a record of 16-7, having met their goal of making it to the SoDak 16. And although the team would have loved to play in the state tournament (which has been postponed due to the coronavirus and may or may not be played), he is proud of the way the team came together and played its best basketball toward the end of the year.
“We had a great year. We had a lot of great things happen throughout the year,” Coach Kelley said. “This group has come together as well as any team we have had in the last couple of years.”
The Wildcats lose three seniors in AJ Kortemeyer, EJ Gonzalez and Dathon Elmore to graduation. Kelley said Kortemeyer was playing his best basketball at the end of the year and will be missed for his leadership and personality.
“He makes practice fun and competitive,” Kelley said. “He is just a great kid.
“I don’t know if I have ever coached a kid with more heart and competitive spirit than Dathan Elmore. EJ is a phenomenal kid and a hard worker. I hope Custer basketball means a big deal to them as they go off into their own lives.”
As good as the Wildcats were this year, they could potentially be even better next year—possibly even conference favorites—with their three leading scorers returning in Kelley, Dustyn Fish and Daniel Sedlacek, along with junior-to-be starting post Gage Tennyson. Other players who saw heavy varsity minutes such as Kaleb Wragge and Gunner Prior also return.
“I hope they are excited for next year. I hope they have that flame lit a little bit to try to get back here,” Kelley said. “We have a lot of juniors who didn’t get a lot of opportunities. Hopefully they are going to put in the time and energy to get us to that next step.
Kelley said the team needs to improve its shooting and overall fundamentals next year but has no doubt it can be done if the players commit themselves to it in the offseason.
“The kids are going to have to work. It’s not, ‘I’m an upperclassman, I’m going to play next year,’” he said. “They are going to have to put in the time and energy and prove they deserve those opportunities.”
Custer 8 13 15 15 —51
CC 13 23 17 15 —68
Custer—Gunner Prior 0-4 0-0 0, Dustyn Fish 2-7 1-3 5, Daniel Sedlacek 4-7 0-1 8, Dustyn Fish 2-7 1-3 5, Jace Kelley 10-31 3-5 28, EJ Gonzalez 0-2 0-0 0, Gage Tennyson 2-6 0-0 4, Sawyer Schramm 1-1 0-0 2, Kaleb Wragge 0-1 0-0 0, AJ Kortemeyer 2-4 0-0 4. Totals: 21-63 4-9 51.
Crow Creek—Shane Sazue 4-10 0-0 11, Brailey LeCompte 0-2 0-0 0, Trevin McBride 3-3 0-2 6, Izaiah Sorace 5-8 2-3 14, Teron Sazue 9-17 4-5 22, Luke Wells 7-14 1-2 15, Adonis Collins 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 28-55 7-14 68.
Three-point goals: Custer 5 (Kelley 5), CC 5 (S. Sazue 3, Sorace 2). Rebounding: Custer 33 (Kortemeyer 8), CC 30 (Wells 14). Assists: CC 10. Turnovers: Custer 12, CC 5. Total fouls: Custer 19, CC 13. Fouled out: Kelley.

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