The Tri-Valley Mustangs finished the regular season with an 11-9 record and was the #4 seed in the Region 3A tournament. The West Central Trojans finished 18-2, ranked #2 in the latest media poll, and was the #1 seed in the tournament. West Central defeated the Mustangs 67-51 on February 2nd. None of that mattered when it came to the SoDak 16 qualifying game in Hartford on Thursday, February 25th.
The Mustangs executed their plan all game long and were step-for-step with the Trojans. Neither team had a lead of more than six points in the game. The first quarter ended in an 11-11 tie. Tri-Valley trailed 16-14 early in the second quarter and then went on a 7-0 run to lead 21-16 with 5:25 to go in the half. The Trojans responded with a 5-0 run and tied the game at 21-21. The two teams traded baskets in the back half of the second quarter with the Mustangs holding a 31-29 halftime lead.
The third quarter continued to be back-and-forth. The two teams traded basket after basket with each other, and the game was tied 42-42 heading into the final quarter. Josslin Jarding struck first for West Central in the fourth quarter with a three-pointer to give the Trojans a 45-42 lead. Rylee Haldeman followed with a layup to push the Trojan lead to 47-42 with just under 6:00 to go in the game. Paige Jewett ended the 5-0 run with a free-throw for the Mustangs with 5:45 to go.
With the Trojans leading by four points with under 5:00 to go in the game, momentum appeared to be headed to the West Central side. A technical foul on the Mustangs give the Trojans two free throws and possession of the ball. Both free throws were made by Cassidy Siemonsma to give West Central their largest lead of the night at 49-43. The Trojans were unable to score on the offensive possession, and that slim opening was all Tri-Valley needed.
Tabor Teel took control for the Mustangs. Teel made a three-pointer on the Mustangs ensuing possession to cut the lead to 49-46 with 4:15 to go. Forty-five seconds later, Teel hit another three-pointer to tie the game 49-49 with 3:30 to play. Each team was only able to make one free throw in the next two minutes, and the game remained tied 50-50 with 1:25 on the clock.
Teel wasn’t done yet. With 1:00 to go, Teel made her third three-point of the quarter, and game, to give the Mustangs a 53-50 lead. Teel made two free throws with :18 to push the Mustang lead to 55-50. Haldeman made a tough shot in the paint for West Central with :06.3 to go, but Teel put the game away with two more free throws with :05.5 to give Tri-Valley the 57-52 upset victory.
Haldeman led the Trojans with 17 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Siemonsma had 13 points and 13 rebounds. Addy Kramer also had double figures with 10 points along with six rebounds.
Teel led all scores in the game with 24 points and also had 12 rebounds and two steals. Kaitlyn Mohnen had 11 points and five rebounds. Jewett finished with eight points, three rebounds, and two assists.
West Central’s season comes to an end with an 18-3 record.
Tri-Valley improves to 13-9. The Mustangs will be the #15 seed in the “SoDak 16” and will play #2 Winner at Wagner High School at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 4th.