Long after the majority of fans had cleared the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Friday night, Yankton head boys’ basketball coach Chris Haynes was still trying to get a handle on what had happened.
A Luke Ronsiek shot that appeared to not have been released before the buzzer was ruled good, giving Sioux Falls O’Gorman a 43-42 victory over the Bucks and denying Yankton a chance to defend its Class AA state title.
O’Gorman, 18-5, will face Brandon Valley (18-5) in the final today (Saturday) at 8:30 p.m. Central time. The Bucks, also 18-5, will play Harrisburg (13-10) for third place in a rematch of last year’s final.
“I didn’t know what to tell them,” Haynes said of the discussion with the team immediately after the game. “I saw the video before I went into the locker room. I knew it was late on the floor — that’s why I went after the refs.
“This is a hard one to swallow.”
Responding to media and social media attention the final play received, South Dakota High School Activities Association Executive Director Dan Swartos issued a statement on the game, noting that, while the National Federation of High Schools does “allow states to adopt instate replay in basketball under very limited circumstances,” that the SDHSAA does not allow it at this time.
“While the topic of instant replay in basketball has been previously broached in South Dakota, it has never left the advisory stage of our membership’s rule change process,” Swartos said in the statement. “As such, instant replay is not currently used in SDHSAA basketball nor any of our other activities.”
Swartos added that replay could be considered in the future.
“It is the intention of the SDHSAA to again examine instant replay in basketball throughout the coming year, and we will follow the wishes of our membership in regards to this topic,” he said, adding that the replay decision would follow the same rule change process as other rule changes.
Ronsiek, a Mount Marty College recruit who was also the hero for O’Gorman when the Knights beat the Bucks in the regular season, finished with 12 points for O’Gorman. Jack Cartwright scored 10 points. Akoi Akoi finished with eight points and seven rebounds in the victory.
Matthew Mors scored 26 points, becoming Yankton’s career scoring leader with his first basket of the game. Mors also had eight rebounds, as did Rex Ryken. Ryken also had three steals.
A grinding first quarter — a 6-3 Yankton lead — gave way to a more open second quarter. Mors hit his second and third three-pointers of the game, and baskets by Cooper Cornemann, Ryken and Hunter Kotrous helped give the Bucks a 19-12 lead.
But the Knights scored four points in the final minute of the first half and the first bucket of the second half to erase that deficit.
From there the lead changed hands eight more times, including twice in the final 10 seconds. Two Mors free throws gave the Bucks a 42-41 lead with 9.6 seconds remaining.
“It was knock-down drag-out game all game long,” Haynes said. “It was a physical game, and it came down to the last play.”
After getting the ball to half-court and calling their final time out, Ronsiek drove to the basket and shot up a floater that went in with zeroes on the clock.
“Obviously we had our chances. We had a number of opportunities to win,” Haynes said. “I’m not blaming the refs. They try their best.”
Yankton now tries to regroup to face Harrisburg, a team the Bucks beat 68-59 back in December.
“We’re going to stay together and compete. Our locker room is devastated right now,” Haynes said. “We have to get through tonight. We will stay together as a team — we’ve been a team all year — and we will get through it.
“We will play hard again tomorrow.”
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Luke Ronsiek 4-10 2-2 12, Jack Cartwright 4-9 0-0 10, Zach Norton 1-5 0-0 3, Canyon Bauer 0-1 0-0 0, Akoi Akoi 4-8 0-0 8, Jack Kolbeck 0-0 0-0 0, Cole Hardie 0-0 0-0 0, Jeremy Jones 1-5 0-0 2, Cole Bruhn 1-2 0-1 2, Eddie Meylor 3-3 0-1 6. TOTALS: 18-43 2-7 43.
Rex Ryken 2-6 0-0 4, Matthew Mors 7-20 9-14 26, Miles Carda 0-2 0-0 0, Cooper Cornemann 3-10 0-0 6, Owen Feser 0-2 0-2 0, Cole Sawatzke 0-1 0-0 0, Hunter Kotrous 2-2 2-2 6. TOTALS: 14-43 11-18 42.
O’GORMAN 3 13 13 14 — 43
YANKTON 6 13 11 12 — 42
Three-Pointers: OG 5-18 (Ronsiek 2-6, Cartwright 2-4, Norton 1-5, Bauer 0-1, Akoi 0-2), Y 3-17 (Mors 3-10, Ryken 0-1, Carda 0-1, Cornemann 0-2, Feser 0-2, Sawatzke 0-1, Kotrous 0-0). Rebounds: Y 34 (Ryken 8, Mors 8), OG 27 (Akoi 7). Personal Fouls: OG 17, Y 11. Assists: OG 10 (Ronsiek 3), Y 3 (Ryken 2). Turnovers: OG 12, Y 11. Blocked Shots: Y 3 (Mors 2), OG 1 (Norton). Steals: Y 5 (Ryken 3), OG 5 (Ronsiek 2).