Sioux Falls Christian controls Class A semifinal, advances to state championship matchup
For the third time in five state tournaments, the Chargers are playing for a Class A boys basketball state title.
SIOUX FALLS — For the third time in five state tournaments, the Sioux Falls Christian Chargers are playing for a Class A boys basketball state title.
The Chargers stopped the surging Huskies of Elk Point-Jefferson and held them to 31.5% shooting in a 75-51 semifinal round win on Friday night at the Premier Center.
It sets up an all-Dak-12 matchup in Saturday’s championship game, with the third-seeded Chargers (21-4) taking on top-seeded Dakota Valley (25-0) at 7:45 p.m.
“We’re really excited to have this opportunity,” SFC coach Mike Schouten said. “Dakota Valley is a great team and we’ve got to play really well if we’re going to have a chance. But it’s an opportunity and we’re the only other team in the state to have this opportunity to go play Dakota Valley, so we’re thankful for that.”
The two teams played on Jan. 26 in North Sioux City, with Dakota Valley winning 73-57. The familiarity of the championship opponent is a plus on short notice, Schouten said.
“When you’re playing someone with familiarity like that, you know their personnel, you know their sets and the strengths and weaknesses of the players, which is helpful for a short preparation period,” he said.
“It’s a great feeling, we’ve been working for it all year,” the Chargers’ Ethan Bruns said. “The hard work is starting to pay off. … We’re ready (for Saturday).”
SFC has been on an every-other-year basis in the state championship game, winning the title in 2021 and taking second in 2019. The Chargers were also state champions in 2016.
As for Friday night’s win, the Chargers trailed 16-13 after the first quarter, which included EPJ's Garrett Merkley scoring 11 points. From there, the Chargers clamped down defensively, allowing three points to him the rest of the way. SFC led 31-27 at halftime and 55-39 after three periods to take control of the game.
“I thought our guys responded really well in the second half,” Schouten said. “They got us on our heels a little bit and we seemed to settle down after halftime. … After that, the confidence started to build a little.”
Bruns had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Britton Mulder added 14 points for SFC. Cole Snyder had 11 points and Tayton Snyder finished with 10 points and six rebounds. The Chargers shot 53.6% in the second half to put the game away and was 18-for-20 on free throws for the game.
“They’re a big team and they have a lot of great players and it just came down to effort and making plays when it mattered,” Bruns said.
Easton Kempf was EPJ’s leading scorer with 16 points, as the Huskies will turn the page to the third-place game on Saturday against Hamlin.