Battler basketball teams played final home games on Friday

Both the boys and girls played their final 2019-2020 season game on Friday, Feb. 21 when the girls entertained the Sully Buttes Chargers and the boys went up against the Highmore-Harrold Pirates in the friendly confines of the Gettysburg High School gymnasium.  It wound up being a doubleheader since the girls had to make up this game with the Chargers when too many of the Potter County girls were out due to illness on their original date of Feb. 7.  

The girls concluded their year with a 9 and 11 record whereas the boys fared better with an 11 and 9 overall record.  The girls will start their run into the South Dakota State High School Playoffs on Tuesday, Feb. 25 against the Herreid/Selby Wolverines.  The boys will not know their path into the playoffs until Saturday, Feb. 29 because not all teams have played their last regular season games as of this date.  

Who knows, maybe the Leap Day Bracketology will be the day the stars align.

In the end, the boys finished up the 2019-2020 Basketball Season being ranked Number 3 and the girls Number 7 in Region Two.  It was clear that the girls had a tough go of it this year, but this past season was really a great learning time for the under classmen since their starting lineup consisted of two seniors, two sophomores, and one freshman.  As for the boys their season was more like a box of chocolate.  

The boys had some tough losses like against the Herreid/Selby Wolverines where they lost 71 to 78 but only because they went as cold as ice in the third quarter to fall 22 points behind the Wolverines before catching fire again in the fourth to almost pull the upset on their neighbors from the north.  Or when they lost to Sully Buttes in overtime.  Again, they went cold in the third quarter to let their all-time nemesis crawl back into the contest and then to finally fall to them in the extra period of play.  But on the other hand, they had some great wins, like against Mobridge (Class A / #2 in Region 6), Leola/Frederick (Class B / #2 in Region 1), and Lyman (Class B / #2 in Region 7).  But their “Signature Win” was against Wolsey/Wessington who was 10 and 0 when they showed up and left with their first loss of the season.  The Warbirds are now 16 and 2 with a ranking of Number 3 in Class B Region 3.  And then finally to stress how erratic their season was, Aberdeen Christian manhandled them 87 to 59.  

So, you never knew which team was going to show up and it must have driven Coach Bryce Hall crazy sometimes but yet at other times, he was probably floating on air with jubilation.  There is no doubt that like the girls, the boys are a young team which causes all this inconsistency.  When they were firing on all pistons though and their 3-point booms are exploding like fireworks on the 4th of July, they are so exciting to watch.  But on the other hand, when they are kicking the ball all over the place and cannot throw a rock into the ocean, they can make any faithful fan pull their hair out, let alone the coach’s.  

This blow out of the Highmore/Harrold Pirates had to be a good omen though.  At least, a great reason for Coach Hall to be drooling over next season because the more and more this young team matures the better they will be – guaranteed.

So, on this Friday night, during this last game of the season, and with the boys playing at their peak, it made this last piece of chocolate the best because the boys owned the night from start to finish.  They came out aggressively and they simply outran the Pirates to end the first quarter 15 to 12.  With the Pirates basically keeping pace with the Battlers all during the first period of play it did look like it was going to be a tough and exciting game.  But in the second quarter the Battlers shifted gears and blew the Pirates off the court.  

It looked like Grant Luikens and Cooper Logan were running their favorite football play of “you go long and I’ll hit you” instead of a basketball fast-break play because when Luikens would get a hold of a rebound he would fire a pass almost the full length of the court to a streaking Logan for an uncontested layup.  Also catching Hail Mary passes from Mr. Luikens were Ethan Pitlick, Seth Sharp, and Joseph Canchola.  It should also be noted that the big boys were doing a stellar job underneath the boards as well because Seth Sharp had 9 points, Dylan Drew had 3, and Kayden Ahlemeier had 9 during all this time.  All this offense, besides making the hometown crowd cheer and celebrate, led to the scoreboard reading 40 to 22 in favor of the home team when the horn blew to end the first half.

When the second half commenced the Battlers poured it on and Cooper Logan led the way by scoring 12 of his game-high 20 points in this period alone.  With all the other four starters scoring too and then holding the Pirates to only 4 points, the South Dakota High School Activities Association Mercy Rule kicked in.  With clock now running and only stopping for free-throws and time outs, the third quarter ended with score being 64 to 28.  In the final period of the game and season, Coach Hall cleared his bench to let the boys who do not normally get in to earn some varsity playing time.  With second and third string players in the Pirates outscored the Battlers 21 to 5 in this last quarter ever to be played for the 2019-2020 basketball season for Potter County boys, but when the clock stopped, the scoreboard read 69 – 49.  The win was indeed tasty and again showed that boys can light it up when all things are clicking.

As for the girls’ game against their arch enemy Sully Buttes – they lost 47 to 58.  As usual it was an antacid game because the scores for the first three quarters were PC/7 – SB/12, PC/23 – SB/23, and PC/40 – SB/38.  And when the fourth quarter started it was like waiting for that slap in the face that you know is going to come, and sure as history has shown, it happened.  Chargers senior Kendra Kleven dropped in a 3-pointer and then freshman Allyson Wittler splashed in two more 3-pointers.  The only Battler to make a field goal during this final quarter of the girls’ season was Ashlee Kaup and the only other points scored for the home team came from the free-throw stripe.

Our senior, Jenna Robbennolt, was our high scorer with 14 points, and their high scorer (and high point scorer for the game too) was senior, Kendra Kleven with 29 points.  These two talented players successfully ended their participation in this long-time rivalry, and now, they will be passing the baton onto their underclass teammates.  It is going to be interesting to see who takes over the lead on their prospective squads in this battle that seems to have had no beginning nor foreseeable end.  Right now, it looks like sophomore Makaivry Schatz is the heir apparent to lead the Battlers come the next two seasons.  Also, for sure it will be freshman Tyler Simon who will be the one who lights it the most for the red and white.  

But there is no doubt Sully Buttes is not losing anything to make taking over the advantage in this rivalry easy for Potter County.  Freshman, Allyson Wittler appears to be like a captain already in her leadership role and her cousin, eighth grader Stevie Wittler, is the next Billy the Kid when it comes to shooting.  She scored 7 points in the varsity game and 12 in the shortened JV game.  One could literally see in the young gun’s eyes that she was going to shoot the ball no matter what when she would start dribbling 84 feet away from her own basket.  

So, it clearly appears that the four Super Sophs and five freshmen for the Lady Battlers need to be on notice that the Chargers will have all the fire power that they need come next year (and beyond). Therefore, it is up to the Potter County girls to become firemen or expect to feel the burn again from their friendly enemies from the south.

In the girls’ JV game Sully Buttes beat Potter County 26 to 22, and Megan Hermann was top scorer for the Battlers with 9 points and Stevie Wittler had 12 for the Chargers.  

Girls Stats

Battlers:  Haylie Ahlemeier – 5, Jenna Robbennolt – 14, Kirstie Lake – 8, Ashlee Kaup – 6, Tyler Simon – 8, Dasia Reuer – 6.  Chargers:  Jill Hofer – 4, Calleigh Chicoines – 1, Stevie Wittler – 7, Kendra Kleven – 29, Allyson Wittler – 14, Tailynn Bradford – 3.

Boys Stats

Battlers:  Cooper Logan – 20, Ethan Pitlick – 2, Joseph Canchola – 4, Seth Sharp -11, Dylan Drew 5, Alex Tanner – 3, Grant Luikens – 11, Kayden Ahlemeier – 13.  Pirates:  Grady Aasby – 7, Peyton McDonnell – 4, Ryan Beckler – 4, Carter LaMont – 5, Dylan McDonnell – 15, Remington Paynter – 4, Telson Cowan – 3, Justin Wielser – 2, Owen Fritzche – 5.

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