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    Dupree wins when it matters most, moves on to State

    The old adage goes that rarely in life are second chances given. So often throughout one’s life we get an opportunity to do things the right way once, so we must make the most of every moment.

    The Dupree Tigers have taken the rules of this expression to the test. It took three times, but the Tigers finally found a way to defeat Doug Schauer’s Faith Longhorns.

    And the timing couldn’t have been any better; the Tigers defeat of Faith resulted in Dupree’s first berth to the South Dakota state tournament since 1984.

    Two of those players from the ’84 team also have children on this year’s version of the Tigers. Norris Widow has two boys; Nate and Tate, while Troy Wall’s son Cooper starts for Dupree.

    Coach Jim Hood’s Tigers faced the Faith Longhorns twice before postseason play began and twice they fell. The second matchup was on the Longhorns’ home court in the Little Moreau Conference Championship game, and things did not go well for the Tigers. Dupree came out ice-cold in the first quarter, fought back within a couple of points by halftime, then everything fell apart and the Tigers ended up losing by twenty by the time the final horn went off.

    Coach Hood knew going into this third matchup that his team had what it took to knock off the undefeated Longhorns.

    “After the first game (against the Longhorns), we felt pretty good, felt we could run with them. The kids we knew we could do it.”

    The team was confident in their abilities to play with the Longhorns and Coach Hood had observed some things that made him confident that they could defeat Faith as well.

    “I just felt that we could get up and down the court on them. They were bigger, we just felt we had to play to our strengths, that was our speed. We had to utilize our strengths.”

    And getting that accomplished meant the Tigers had to keep the Longhorns from slowing things down and getting into their halfcourt set. They had no real answer for Jade Keffeler down low save for an undersized forward or two whose best hope was just to put his arms straight up and hope to bother him enough that his shot might come off wrong.

    And it worked. Keffeler only managed four points on the night and the Tigers shot much better from the outside, resulting in their four point victory.

    So they kept the tempo up and kept the Longhorns offense out of sync. Check on the utilization of speed.

    The second strength the Tigers possess isn’t something that’s always there, but when it is, the Tigers are tough to stop.

    During the Little Moreau Conference tournament, Harding County head coach Jay Wammen quickly summarized how dangerous Dupree could be:

    “If they get hot, watch out.”

    And they got hot against Faith. Pulling a role reversal from the teams’ second meeting, Dupree was the team that came out guns blazing, leading 18-6 after one. Dupree than had to hold on the rest of the way, sweating out an overtime before finally prevailing. Dupree ended the game with eight threes.

    Let that be a warning to Sully Buttes, the team that drew coach Hood’s boys; if you let them get going, it may be a long night for you. Coach Hood had the opportunity to watch this year’s Sully Buttes team and knows that his team’s work is cut out for them.

    “They’ve got a good team and they have the height advantage on us, plus the experience of being in a state tournament. We just have to play with confidence and we’ll be alright.”

    Statistically, the Tigers are well balanced. Nate Widow and Cooper Wall lead the team with 18 and 14 points per game, respectively. The team shoots well from the outside, hitting three pointers at 34% clip and 49% from the field overall.

    This Dupree team may have never been to the state tournament and therefore lack experience, but the Tigers have little to worry about; the man who’s directing this play has plenty of experience.

    Coach Hood led McIntosh to consecutive state tournament bids in 1998 and 1999. And these weren’t consolation championships that his squads were battling for; both years Hood’s teams made it, they made it to the championship game, winning it all in ’98 and finishing as runner-up the next year.

    Then again, this state tournament team may not quite hold the star power that Hood’s McIntosh teams had in the late ‘90s. The Tigers have no Denver TenBroek types to take over the game late, instead they have a different trait that Hood’s old team possessed - consummate team ball.

    “They remind me of my McIntosh teams, they get along so well.”

    He also points out that the players that don’t see much varsity action have been a huge help in the team’s development.

    “I talked to the junior varsity players, they push these varsity starters in practice… I’ve always said that a team is only as good as its bench, and this team has bought into that.”

    If there’s anything this 21-2 Dupree team has learned, it’s that they’re never out of it until the final buzzer sounds. The Tigers now have three more games to prove that this victory over the seemingly-invincible Longhorns was not a joke. 

    3 Responses

    1. Dark Horse Says:

      +5 likes -2 dislikes

      You didn't hear much from the media when THE Dupree TIGERS defeated the Faith Longhorns (ONLY UNDEFEATED TEAM IN THE STATE !) for the Region 8B Championship. Some called it luck,some a joke or an upset. If you had paid any attention to the Tigers this season, you could see early that they had the talent

    2. Dark Horse Says:

      +5 likes -2 dislikes

      Faith Longhorns WERE the only undefeated team in the State!! The Dupree Tigers changed that at the Region 8B Tourney last week. You heard little from the writers

    3. SOD BUZZARD Says:

      +3 likes -1 dislike

      Ironically Dark Horse, we heard little from you until now as well? Are you a writer then?

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