Pierre cruises past Harrisburg in girls state tournament semifinals

Governors will face top-seeded Washington in Saturday's finals

Harrisburg's Kayleigh Hybertson tries to move in the lane against the defense of Pierre during the 'AA' girls state basketball tournament semifinals on Friday, March 10, 2023 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.
Matt Zimmer/Forum News Service

SIOUX FALLS — For Harrisburg to win its first 'AA' state girls basketball championship, they would have had to beat the No. 3, No. 2 and No. 1 seeds in that order.

In Thursday's quarterfinal, the 6th-seeded Tigers took care of the first one, knocking off defending state champion O'Gorman. But in Friday's semifinals, taking down No. 2 Pierre proved too tall a task, as the Governors jumped out to a huge early lead and coasted the rest of the way to a 51-37 win. That means Pierre will be the ones aiming to take down the No. 1 Warriors in Saturday's title tilt. The Tigers will play Jefferson for third place.

Coming off Thursday's thrilling win over the Knights, the Tigers were confident and riding the support of a big and supportive maroon and gold crowd. But Pierre was just too good on this night, and the Governors quick start made things even tougher.

"A couple good looks don't go like they did last night and you get a little bit tighter," said Tigers coach Nick Mayer. "Pierre is hard to score against in the first place, and they came out and really played hard and put some pressure on us."

Harrisburg's Sadie Mehrman lines up a shot while Pierre's Lennix DuPris plays defense on Friday, March 10, 2023. Pierre beat Harrisburg 51-37 in the 'AA' girls state basketball tournament semifinals at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.
Matt Zimmer/Forum News Service

Though the Tigers never let the game get truly out of hand, Pierre pretty much put this one on ice in the opening stanza. They outscored Harrisburg 15-2, and while the Tigers (17-6) quickly started fighting back in the second, they just couldn't get enough going offensively to make a serious run, never getting the lead down even to single digits.


"We came out focused," said Pierre coach Kirk Beebout. "I think we got over the atmosphere a little bit and just got locked in. We knew what we had to do and the defense really got us going early."

That was in part due to Pierre's defense, but the Governors didn't exactly struggle when they had the ball, either. Pierre shot 50 percent for the game, with Reese Terwilliger scoring 19 points by going 7-of-9 from the floor and 5-for-5 at the line. She added eight rebounds and a pair of assists. Ryann Barry had 10 points and five assists and Ayvrie Kaiser had eight points, six assists and five rebounds. Remington Price and Lennix DuPris had seven points apiece. The Govs had 18 assists on 20 made field goals.

"When you're getting stops on end it makes it easier to make shots on the other end," Beebout said. "It was just the same stuff we've done all year. We didn't do anything different than what we've done in 21 other games. We pride ourselves on defense, we really get after it and these girls are really connected with one another and you can see that in the way they play."

For the Tigers, Abigail Flanagan had 17 points, while Makinley Lawrenson made all three of her shots off the bench for six points. The Tigers shot 34 percent from the floor, were 4-of-13 from outside the arc and made just one free throw in the game.

"I'm proud of how our kids fought," Mayer said. "Their defense was tough and then they got a lot of good looks offensively. They run a lot of good stuff in the half-court and they got some good post touches and back-cuts. We'd score but then they'd come right back down and score and that made it tough to catch up.

"It is what it is," Mayer added, minutes after teary-eyed players exited the locker room. "We have to go out and try to get third place now. We've got to get up for that game because third place is the best we can do. Hopefully we can finish the state tournament with a win."

As for the Govs (20-3), they'll be playing in their first title game since 2008, going for their first championship since 1991.

"We're looking forward to it," Beebout said. "Obviously (Washington) is a huge team and that presents some problems, but we're playing for a state championship and we're gonna give it all we got. No matter what happens we can feel good about that."

Matt Zimmer is a Sioux Falls native and longtime sports writer. He graduated from Washington High School where he played football, legion baseball and developed his lifelong love of the Minnesota Twins and Vikings. After graduating from St. Cloud State University, he returned to Sioux Falls, began a long career in amateur baseball and started working as a sports freelancer. Zimmer was hired as a sport reporter at the Argus Leader in 2004, where he covered Sioux Falls high schools and colleges before moving to the South Dakota State University beat in 2014.
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