A late fourth-quarter rally by the Dell Rapids St Mary Cardinals fell a little short as the Aberdeen Christian Knights defeated the Cardinals 60-53 in the semifinals of the South Dakota State B Tournament on Friday, March 19th.
Both teams were on fire to start the ball game. The two teams combined for 21 points in the first four minutes of the game. St Mary held an 11-10 lead with 4:15 to play after a Connor Libis field goal, but it was the Knights that continued to shoot lights-out the rest of the quarter. Aberdeen Christian went on an 11-0 run for a 21-11 lead and ended the first quarter leading 26-16. St Mary got within six points early in the second quarter after two made free throws by John Pica, but the Knights kept the lead around 10 points for much of the quarter. They led 36-26 at halftime.
Aberdeen Christian continued to keep St Mary in check throughout the third quarter. The Knights held a double-digit lead throughout most of the quarter and led 46-34 heading into the final quarter. The Cardinals found themselves down 14 points, 51-37, at the final media timeout of the game with 4:16 to play in the game. The Cardinals then went on an 8-0 run and cut the lead to 51-45 after two free throws by Sam Palmer with 2:54 to go. Ashaun Roach-Valandra made a three-pointer from the corner with 1:47 to go to cut the Knights lead down to five, 53-48, but that was as close as St Mary could get. Aberdeen Christian made enough free-throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
The Cardinals finished the game shooting 35% (17-49) from the field, 29% (6-21) from three-point area, and 72% (13-18) from the free-throw line.
Libis had a team-high 14 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Roach-Valandra ended with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and two assists. Ty Brown added 10 points and six rebounds. Palmer finished with nine points, five rebounds, and two assists. Max Herber had six points and eight rebounds.
The Cardinals (20-5) will play Viborg/Hurley in the 3rd/4th place game on Saturday, March 20th at 5:00 p.m.