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    Dupree finishes strong, ends season with a win

    Though Dupree’s final game of the season, a 57-52 victory over Wolsey-Wessington, was a battle for 7th and 8th place, the story wasn’t about the game’s result.

    It was about a season of hard work and a bright future.

    Dupree shocked many by just making it to the state tournament, in the process defeating Faith in regions, which had defeated the Tigers twice during the regular season. The Tigers never lost confidence in themselves, dug deep within and found the necessary inner-strength to return to the school to heights they had not reached since 1984.

    But that’s not where the story ends.

    After yesterday’s loss to Castlewood, Dupree’s star junior Nate Widow made it clear that today’s game held strong implications for the start of next season.

    “It would give us a lot of confidence, it would mean a lot.”

    As if they didn’t have enough momentum already. The Tigers upset of heavily favored Faith showed that Dupree’s regular season record (21-2) was not just a product of a weak schedule; these Tigers had some legitimate players.

    And of those players, only two are seniors. Cooper Wall and Chisum Farlee were instrumental in the team’s tournament run but Dupree has enough depth to make up for the losses going into next season. With Faith losing a good chunk of starters and a sixth man to graduation, Dupree will most likely be favored to make a return run to state at the start of next year.

    Wall averaged 14 points per game on the season, but you can expect Widow to take on even more of a scoring role to fill the void left by the senior leader. Along with scoring, Widow is an excellent ballhandler which was more than evident in today’s matchup against the pressure defense Wolsey-Wessington threw at the Tigers. Widow works his way through traffic in a measured, deliberate manner and makes breaking pressure defenses seem effortless.

    “Before the game we talked about getting the win, how important it would be for us starting out next year. We talked about how it would give us a big lift.”

    The return of the Widow twins, inside-outside threat Kash Deal and a solid supporting cast should give Coach Jim Hood the type of team he likes to have; one that gets up and down the court.

    Today’s game almost certainly hardened Hood’s players as they got up early and then had to withstand a furious comeback attempt by Wolsey-Wessington. The Warbirds employed a high-pressure trap for most of the second half repeatedly causing Dupree duress and occasionally forced the Tigers to turn the ball over.

    Coach Hood pointed at the character of the team and their familiarity with one another, as many of Hood’s players have been playing together since 5th grade, as reasons for the success they have experienced. Those who played before this year’s squad – a couple brothers of this year’s players – also helped in the development of the Tigers.

    “This team has been kind of a homegrown team. Kash’s brother Kayden, Kirby Longbrake – Seth’s brother – they helped kind of getting them groomed into the program, they did a lot of talking with them. They helped develop their offense.”

    Going into next season, Dupree will quickly find out what it’s like transitioning from hunter to hunted and judging by the resiliency this team has displayed, they will welcome the added pressure with open arms.

     

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