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Titan boys fall in battle to DV, ending their season

On Friday, March 3 the Tea Area High School boys’ basketball team traveled to Dakota Valley to take on the undefeated Panthers. The Titans jumped out early, leading 20-18 after the opening quarter but a 16-23 third quarter deficit let the Panthers back in and allowed them to get the eventual 74-65 win, advancing them to the SoDak 16 and ending the Titans’ season.

“It is always difficult to end a season, especially when we have a group that deserved to play in the state tournament, but we have nothing to hang our heads about. Dakota Valley is on a 50 game winning streak for a reason and the truth is that both teams played a State Championship level game in a State Championship atmosphere,” said Titan head coach Drew Weber. “We played a great game and did all of the things necessary to win, but the margin of error against DV is so slim.”

Tea Area had four players in double figures with Reis Kirschenman leading the way with a double-double in the game, scoring 15 points and grabbing down 14 rebounds. Both Sam Almas and Jonah Kocer provided 14 points for the Titans and Blake Thompson finished with ten. Jessen Wiebenga added eight points and Boston Willemssen finished with four. Almas and J. Wiebenga each pulled down seven rebounds. Kocer led in assists with three in the game and Almas and J. Wiebenga led in steals with two apiece.

“We certainly needed some of their role players to have an off-night and hats off to them, because they also rose to the occasion. It is unfair that that game was played during the Round of 32 and not in Sioux Falls later in the month, but those are the breaks,” said Weber. “We have put a lot of emphasis on playing a AA schedule during the season and that might have come back to bite us this season, but one thing that is for sure is that our boys were playing their best ball in March…I am very proud of this group and all that they’ve accomplished.”

Prior to their match-up against Dakota Valley, the Titans hosted Beresford in the opening round of Regions, getting the 72-47 victory.

“We started a little slow offensively, but with a 10-day layoff between games, that’s not too surprising. Eventually, we started to value the basketball a little better and were able to get some rhythm going,” said Weber. “Blake had a huge second half with 19 points and the rest of the perimeter guys all chipped in the way they have all season. Reis and Jessen really controlled the boards and we were able to get a lot of second chance points.”

Both Thompson and Almas finished with 20 points on the night. Kirschenman scored a double-double, scoring 18 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. Kocer finished with two points, four rebounds and led the team in assists with seven in the game. He also had three steals. J. Wiebenga had seven points, three rebounds, and three assists. Emerson Otten scored three points and Willemssen had two points, three rebounds. Leading the team in steals were Thompson and Garrett Wiebenga who each had four in the game.

“Defensively, we were great all night I thought. Lots of energy and we made them take difficult shots on most possessions,” added Weber.

The 2023 State A Tournament will be held March 16-18 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls.

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