O'Gorman girls cap perfect season with a Class AA state championship

Mar. 9—SIOUX FALLS — It almost seems fitting that the O'Gorman girls basketball team book-ended the season against their opponents from the beginning of the season in Brandon Valley.

The season also ended with the undefeated Knights earning a state championship.

Pushed to the limits by the third-seeded Lynx for most of the game, No. 1 O'Gorman ended the fourth quarter on a 12-2 run to outlast Brandon Valley 55-42 in Class AA girls basketball championship game Saturday night at the Sanford Pentagon. The victory also secured a perfect 24-0 season and extended the team's winning streak to 26 games, dating back to last year.

It is O'Gorman's third state championship in the last seven years, previously capturing the crown in 2017 and in 2022. Throughout the game, everyone on the Knights stepped up in key moments, proving vital to the victory.

"Our kids just played 32 minutes as hard as they could," Knights head coach Kent Kolsrud said. "We had multiple kids make huge plays for us, and the supporting kids did all of their jobs."

The Knights' late-game run came at a pivotal moment as senior Lucy Moore, who had seven points to her name, fouled out with 3:22 remaining in the game. On the strength of four free throws from Alyvia Padgett, Brandon Valley moved within three points of the lead, and were poised to take the lead off a missed pass by Julia Eggert, resulting in an O'Gorman turnover.

However, Aweng Akoi came up with a huge block with 2:35 left, and senior Mahli Abdouch found the basket at the other end, finishing with 16 points. Sydney Terveen extended the lead to six points on a 3-point play, and a quick five points in the final minute from Payden Peterson effectively sealed the title.

"When Lucy fouled out, we just had to step up," said Terveen, a Knights sophomore. "We really wanted to be state champions and we didn't want to lose this game with all of our seniors"

The clinching moments were preceded by an intense physical battle, as neither O'Gorman and Brandon Valley finished the first three quarters with a lead greater than two points. It was a far cry from their matchup to start the year, with the Knights coming out on top 65-28 on Dec. 7.

Knowing how disruptive the Lynx can be in transition, O'Gorman looked to find clean opportunities to score quick baskets.

"We kept talking in timeouts that we need to find a way to score easy points," Kolsrud said. "Whether it's something off a steal, in transition, offensive rebound, or free throws, something to get easy separation ... that's something we've done really well throughout the course of the year."

Terveen finished the game leading the Knights with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds. Eggert had four points and a game-best four steals alongside Terveen. Ruby Moore scored six points off the bench on 3-of-5 shooting, and Peterson added three points.

Brandon Valley, which finished with a record of 19-5, had 14 points from Ava Kellenberger. Padgett had 10 points, three assists, and four rebounds. Madison Geiver was 3-of-7 from the field en route to seven points and nine rebounds, but the Lynx were held to 28.3% shooting for the game, and just 5-of-20 in the second half.

Kolsrud referenced O'Gorman girls basketball as "13 strong," saying how everyone had a part in their journey to the state championship, reinforced by the way the Knights will celebrate the victory.

"I'm celebrating with my team," Terveen said. "It's been really fun playing with them."