High School Girls Basketball

Fliers win final two games of state tournament to earn consolation championship

Flandreau's five seniors help team rebound from tough opening loss to close season with 25-1 record


BROOKINGS — Shortly after the Flandreau Fliers lost to Tea Area in the quarterfinals of the State Class A Girls Basketball Tournament on Thursday night, head coach Megan Severtson stated that one of the goals over their next two games was to not let the loss define them or their season.

In wins over Hanson on Friday and Mahpíya Lúta on Saturday, the Fliers showed just what kind of team they are and how a program that was built in large part by their five seniors rallied from a tough loss to win the consolation championship.

“I have a really gritty group of girls,” Severtson said after Saturday’s win. “They had to work for this. We’ve had to work to get our program to this position and my senior class has been a big part of getting us to being a program that’s well-respected across the state.”

The weekend began with the Fliers shaking off Thursday’s loss and turning in a dominant performance against Hanson in the consolation semifinals. Flandreau’s defense had been a calling card all season and was prominent on Friday afternoon, holding Hanson to just eight percent shooting in the first quarter and 20 percent in the first half.

After racing to leads of 12-4 at the end of the first quarter and 30-12 at halftime, Flandreau put an exclamation point on the win, forcing 14 turnovers and out-rebounding Hanson 40-29 on the way to a 65-33 victory.

“Our defense going into this tournament is what we really relied on all year long,” Severtson said. “But in the first game against Tea, we probably came out with a little too many jitters. We settled in on the second day of the tournament with a little less pressure and we had something to prove. My girls responded well to it.”

Lily Klein led the way with 23 points, 13 rebounds and six assists for the Fliers in Friday’s win while Claire Sheppard knocked down six 3-pointers on the way to 18 points, five rebounds and three assists. Lizzie Pavlis had 10 points and eight rebounds while Morgan Sheppard and Sadie Iott had six points each.

The Fliers also shot 53 percent from the floor in the win including 10-of-18 3-pointers, which helped punch their ticket to Saturday’s consolation championship with Mahpíya Lúta.

In a battle of the two undefeated teams heading into the tournament, the Fliers got off to a fast start with an 11-2 run to open the game. But Mahpíya Lúta had their response, using a full-court press to turn up the tempo and cutting Flandreau’s lead to 13-12 at the end of the first quarter.

The Fliers pulled away by doing some of the things that they did best. Their defense held Mahpíya Lúta to five points in the second quarter and Flandreau closed the first half on an 11-1 run to take a 27-17 lead into halftime.

Flandreau’s lead swelled to as many as 19 points in the third quarter before taking a 46-29 lead into the fourth quarter and the Fliers closed out the game to win the consolation title with a 56-41 victory.

“They made us play way too fast in the first quarter but I thought once we settled in, we were able to get some open looks,” Severtson said. “We were able to rely on our defense to create a couple of things on offense for us, so it was fun to come out of here with a win.”

It was a fitting finale for Flandreau’s five seniors including Klein, who had 17 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. Pavlis  also had a double-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and five steals and fellow senior Claire Sheppard had 13 points, six rebounds and a pair of blocks.

Grace Krull and Hayden Neises checked in toward the end of the game to get their final moment a part of a group that helped put Flier basketball on the map both in the South Dakota basketball scene and in their community.

“They bought into the program,” Severtson said of her senior class. “They’ve always been excited to be a Flandreau Flier. Because of them, there are a lot of little girls in our community that are really excited to play Flandreau basketball.”

Severtson said the way her team responded this weekend will define her team more than how they finished the season and at 25-1, the Fliers had a lot to be proud of.

“I love these girls,” Severtson said. “They’re a part of my family. My kids love these girls. My husband has to hear a lot about girls' basketball for months. But what I think we’ve built here is a community that supports these kids and supports their students. That’s really fun to see because when these girls leave this program, I’ve always wanted them to be proud that they’re from Flandreau.”