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Centerville storms past Arlington to claim girls Class B state title

Mar. 9—RAPID CITY — Centerville head coach Tucker Tornberg knew several years ago a group of girls coming up the ranks would one day be capable of bringing the school its first girls basketball state title.

That dream was finally realized at The Monument on Saturday night.

In an all-encompassing effort, the No. 3 Tornadoes stormed past No. 1 Arlington 62-44 to win the Class B state championship.

"I knew when these girls were junior high kids, from the time they put in, in the commitment they showed, that they wanted to turn this program around," Tornberg said. "Now, a couple years ago, we made the SoDak 16 for the first time and we were relying on freshmen and sophomores ... But tonight as juniors and seniors, it just paid off for them."

The depth of the Tornadoes' upperclassmen was on full display in the rout, as four players scored double digits.

Senior Makayla Heesch had 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting and seven rebounds for Centerville (24-2), while junior Emma Marshall had 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting and nine rebounds. Junior Althea Gust added 13 points and five rebounds, and senior Lillie Eide notched 12 points and seven rebounds. The team shot 48.9 percent (22-of-45) from the field.

"It's so special," Heesch said. "I've been dreaming of this since I started playing basketball. And it finally happened."

Centerville's team displayed its enthusiasm throughout the weekend, undoubtedly the most boisterous of the four semifinalist teams, sprinting and hollering in and out of the locker room during warmups, and doing the "skull" chant with fans before games.

The energy carried into the start of Saturday's championship game, when a barrage of 3-pointers and effective defense helped the team leap out to a 16-5 first quarter lead. The dominance continued in the second quarter, as the cohesive unit got several layups off its ball movement, and built a 34-14 halftime lead.

"We came out strong, came out ready to go," Tornberg said. "This group has been so relaxed, and has just had so much fun this whole state tournament, that I think they just came out that way, and I think it paid off for us."

"We're dancing, having fun and other teams aren't doing that," Heesch added. "We definitely were always having fun, always staying positive."

Arlington battled to climb back into the game in the second half, cutting the deficit to 15 in the fourth quarter, and getting back a small amount of momentum. But a 3-pointer by Heesch quickly squashed the run, and the Tornadoes rolled to the finish line.

"It's unbelievable," Tornberg said. "Sometimes you lose some words in these moments ... Our community is built on a lot of grit, a lot of resiliency and a lot of handling adversity. And you can see that in this team and that starts with our community and our fans. They were awesome for us, and it means a lot."

Addalyn Steffensen led the Cardinals (23-3) with 15 points, while Harley Johnson had nine points and eight rebounds and Jolyssa Steffensen had 10 points.

Spirit of Su: Ava Lingemann, Ethan

Spirit of Six: Lyman High School

All-tournament team: Centerville — Althea Gust (Centerville), Emma Marshall (Centerville), Jaelyn Huntimer (Arlington), Harley Johnson (Arlington), Ava Lingemann (Ethan), Rachel Klock (Ethan), Skyler Volmer (Lyman), Mak Scott (Lyman), Paige Kjerstad (Wall), Nora Dinger (Wall), Bailey Verhulst (Harding County), Kaylie Robinson (James Valley Christian).