The Lady Bulldogs advanced to the SoDak 16 with wins over Wolsey-Wessington in round two and Arlington in the semi-final game of Region 3B. With De Smet coming into the SoDak 16 seeded #16, they were matched up with the undefeated and #1 seeded Castlewood Warriors, also of Region 3B.
The Lady Bulldogs were the underdogs whom nobody thought would have made it as far into the post season as they did. However, in every game, they were determined to show what they could do when they worked hard and together as a team.
The Warriors controlled much of the game, even though the Lady Bulldogs fought hard, making some big stops defensively. Most of the night, Castlewood was hot offensively from in the paint and outside shooting. De Smet just couldn't get into a rhythm to make things work.
"Castlewood is a very good team, and they were able to make some tough, contested shots early on to get them out to a lead,” said Coach Brendon Pitts. “They played very aggressively on the defensive end of the floor, which forced us into some turnovers."
The Lady Bulldogs played hard the entire game, never wanting to give up their chance, but the Warriors took the lead and never looked back. De Smet outrebounded the Warriors 31-25, and the few times that they were put at the line, shot 100% of their free throws. Otherwise, Castlewood led the stats, which ended with De Smet coming out behind on the scoreboard.
The Lady Bulldogs were led by Kennadi Buchholz with 17 points and 11 rebounds and Mackenzie Zell with seven points and seven rebounds. Alyssa Asleson came off the bench and added six points. The Warriors were led by Alayna Benike with 27 points and Darah Dekam with 18 points.
"With only one senior on the roster, we looked heavily to a lot of younger girls to step up and fill big roles this year,” said Coach Pitts. “They did exactly what we needed them to do and contributed a tremendous amount throughout the season.”
At the beginning of the season, there were only 16 girls for the junior varsity and varsity combined, 7th grade through seniors. After Jacie McCune suffered from an ongoing injury, she was out of the lineup and out for the season, bringing the total down to 15 girls. Asleson and Ella Poppinga stepped up to play big roles on the varsity this year in a lot of games.
Having only 6-7 high school girls out for the sport poses quite a challenge for a new coach, who has to lean on their experience and also ask a lot from the younger ball players who haven't had much time on the varsity court.
"I'm very proud of the effort the girls gave all season,” said Pitts. “They came out ready to get better every practice and game.”
This group of Lady Bulldogs showed drive and determination and should be proud of their season as they worked hard and fought to the end.
De Smet 7 17 24 37
Castlewood 20 40 55 65