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Hamlin can finally celebrate, Chargers win title in thriller

Tim Tushla
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

‘Third times the charm’ proved to be true for Hamlin.

On Saturday night at the Watertown Civic Arena, the Chargers defense held off a last second game tying attempt from Wagner to complete the perfect season and win the state ‘A’ girls basketball championship.

“We had the feeling of losing it a couple of times, so there was no other feeling that we could have other than winning, and we finally got that feeling,” said Hamlin head coach Tim Koisti.

Last year, Hamlin fell to a red-hot St. Thomas More team in the title game. The year before that, they came up short in the championship game against Aberdeen Roncalli. The 2022-23 season was a year to finally get over that final hump, and the Chargers proved they were ready for it.

Kami Wadsworth led the Chargers with 17 points, seven rebounds, three steals, and two assists. Brooklyn Brandreit attributed 14 points, along with a couple steals defensively.

Oddly enough, Wagner shot 57% from the field to Hamlin’s 42%, but where the Chargers had the advantage was ten points from the charity stripe, while the Red Raiders had only two points in the game from free throws.

For most of the game, it was punch for punch. Hamlin did face a nine-point deficit early in the game, but at halftime they led 34-33. At the end of the third quarter, the Chargers led 46-43. Late in the contest, coach Koisti emphasized not making mistakes to his squad.

“First of all, we had to not turn it over. With their length and their pressure, we just needed to hold our composure and not turn it over,” Koisti explained. “We did a pretty good job of that, and then we just had to defend. We talked about it at halftime. At the end there, my kids just worked their tails off and defended.”

Hamlin will graduate three seniors this spring – Brooklyn Brandriet, Ally Abraham, and Kami Wadsworth.

“They’re such great leaders, and it’s not just that they help each other, they help everybody that’s trying to learn the game and they’re just trying to go as hard as they can all the time,” Koisti said. “They’re just clutch for us.”

Coach Koisti also chuckled about his post-game dance during the trophy presentation.

“It was supposed to be the griddy, but I’m not really sure if I can do the griddy very well. I promised the kids I would griddy if we won. I had to hold true to my promise,” he said.

This is the third state girls basketball title for the Hamlin Chargers program. They last won it in 2005, and before that, 1996.

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.
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