SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The O’Gorman girls basketball team climbed to the top of Class ‘AA’ by winning their third state championship in school history. That feat has led to the Knights being named the 2022 KELOLAND Media Group Girls Team of the Year.

The O’Gorman girls were the top seed in the 2020 state tournament, following an undefeated season, but then came the COVID-19 Pandemic, which brought their historic season to an abrupt stop.

“It was extremely difficult, a lot of tears, we just didn’t know what was going to happen,” O’Gorman head coach Kent Kolsrud said. “They potentially tried to reschedule the tournament, which never happened, but that was a great basketball team.”

“I remember exactly where me and Emma were when we heard that the state tournament wasn’t going on and we just didn’t believe it,” O’Gorman senior Hannah Ronsiek said. “But then it ended up being fully cancelled and we just wanted to make the most out of our summer and work on basketball and get her ready to go to Creighton, but it was so heartbreaking.”

The following season, the Knights suffered a semifinal loss to eventual champ, Washington.

“Getting third place in that tournament, but you still have that edge to you. You still want to be state champions and I thought our kids really responded well,” Kolsrud said. “We had a great offseason. We had tremendous leadership this year, out of our seniors and upper classmen.”

“We were super determined in the offseason. We all worked our butts off. We came in here and got some shots up at open gym,” O’Gorman sophomore Mahli Abdouch said. “We wanted it this year and we weren’t going to let anybody take it from us.”

No. 2 O’Gorman opened the 2021 season against No. 3 Brandon Valley. There was a lot of offense in the contest, but the Lynx would eventually knock off the Knights, 70-66.

“You know, we regrouped, we came together, we bonded together and we stayed strong,” Abdouch said. “We practiced harder. It definitely made us more determined.”

“We certainly learned from that. I think that helped propel us to getting better and continue to try and improve through the course of the season,” Kolsrud said.

The Knights would bounce back by winning their next 15 games.

“I think we really felt at that time, that we’re one of the teams that has a chance to make a run at this and it could be a special season,” Kolsrud said. “Can we continue to improve? Can we continue to get better and really hit our peak in the middle of March and I think our kids really did that.”

O’Gorman advanced to the state tournament, following a 25 point win over Yankton in the SoDak 16.

“Our kids went out to Rapid City on a mission. It was kind of a business trip. We wanted to go out there and have some fun and we’re certainly going to make memories, but our kids had one goal in mind and that was to come away from Rapid City as state champions,” Kolsrud said.

“We were just so excited and ready to play in the tournament. We knew what needed to be done and we did treat it as a business trip,” Ronsiek said. “We obviously had a lot of fun, but we wanted to win.”

The Knights showed their resiliency in the state championship, as they were tied at four after the first quarter. OG would outscore Rapid City Stevens by seven the rest of the way to claim the title.

“We all ran up to each other and made a big dog pile. It was awesome,” Abdouch said. “The feeling that all of our hard work just paid off and it was just one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt.”

“It was so amazing. Everyone was dreaming on it on the team and it was such an amazing moment,” Ronsiek said.

O’Gorman claimed the Class ‘AA’ State Championship, while finishing the year with a 21-3 record. Those feats are what led to the Knights being named the Team of the Year.

“I think they certainly deserved this award and it was a complete team effort though. Our marquee players did what they’re supposed to do and we had great leadership,” Kolsrud said.

“It’s probably almost as good as a state championship. We deserve this for sure, we all worked so hard, like I said before. Just to get a state championship and this, is a once in a lifetime thing for a high school athlete. It’s awesome,” Abdouch said.

O’Gorman will graduate two seniors this year including Hannah Friedman and Hannah Ronsiek.