RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — The fourth seeded Yankton Bucks were led by eight seniors as they earned upset wins over top-seed Jefferson and number three Mitchell to claim the class ‘AA’ state title.
Yankton saw a seven point halftime lead disappear in Rapid City, as Mitchell took a one point lead late. However, the Bucks finished strong on their way to a 65-61 win over the Kernels.
“Mitchell’s got really big guys and strong kids and we had to guard them down low and then we thought that they had to guard us so we wanted Mac, Dru and Rugby, all three to be aggressive and be on the attack tonight and look for opportunities to get to the paint. And they did a great job of that,” Yankton coach Chris Haynes said.
Mitchell out-rebounded Yankton 29-17, forcing the Bucks to focus on another component of their defense. They forced the Kernels into 19 turnovers, leading to 14 Yankton points.
“It’s no question we’re not the biggest team. So we had to work on getting good box out, getting good rebounds because when we do get defensive rebounds, it gives us a lot of opportunities to run in transition which we like to do, which creates a lot of points for our team,” Yankton guard, Mac Ryken said.
The Bucks haven’t claimed a title since 2018, but had a feeling this year could be special, as they returned a majority of last year’s team that reached the state quarterfinals.
“That was great experience for our guys last year even though the state tournament and go the way we would have liked it to. They’re a special group of kids, we knew that when they first came to camp, when they were in first grade at eight years old. Now here they are, 10 years later, as state champs,” Haynes said.
Last year the state tournament did not go as planned for Yankton but this year the Ryken trio and the Bucks made quite the comeback and made sure that they claimed the championship title.
“It’s always been our dreams since we were little so to be able to do it today. It’s really special. Being able to watch the 2018 one from the stands and coming down here and doing it today. It means a lot to us,” Ryken said.
Yankton finished off the season with a 19-5 overall record.