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Dakota Valley goes perfect again, Panthers claim back to back titles

Josh Klemme
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

For the 53rd straight time, Dakota Valley is celebrating a win. Saturday's win was extra special at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, because they also claimed their second straight state championship, a 54-48 win over Sioux Falls Christian in the title game.

“It is pretty amazing I am sure me and the guys fully understand what we have done yet. So we will soak it up over the next week and it's just awesome,“ said Isaac Bruns, Dakota Valley senior guard and USD basketball commit .

The quest for back to back titles wasn’t easy as Sioux Falls Christian would lead at halftime, and at one point in the third quarter, the Chargers led by as many as nine.

"I have to give a shout out to Sioux Falls Christian. Coach Schouten is a class act. One of my favorite colleagues, so to speak, and they played an unbelievable game," exclaimed Dakota Valley head coach Jason Kleis. "They were physical, they were tough. They played us just the way I would have played us, and I know us pretty well. So, a huge shout out to them.”

According to Kleis, the turning point of the game is when Junior center Jaxson Wingert used his physicality on the boards to help give the panthers a five-point lead with just 47 seconds left to go.

“He is great at that, keeping the ball high and has great touch around the rim it was just a monster play. I don’t remember exactly the score, but you could just feel everything swing so credit to him. He kept going up there and is just tough but that is who he is," said Kleis.

The Panthers were led by their two seniors Bruns who had a game high 22 points and Dakota Wesleyan commit Randy Rosenquist Jr., who had 18 on the night. Rosenquist, whose father suffered a stroke earlier this month, was playing this whole state tournament with a heavy heart.

“He deserves this moment he is a great kid off the floor. He is just everything you could imagine to coach as a coach. He just has the heart of a lion," explained Kleis. "But all that is going on in Randy’s world you could just see the weight of the world was on him the last month. His grandma just passed away. His dad is still in the hospital after a severe stroke. But I went up and saw his dad in the hospital before we left, and I told him we were going to go get one for him and we did.”

Not only is this Dakota Valley's second straight state title, and the second in program history, but it's also the schools 53rd consecutive win in boys hoops. The state record in win streak by a boys basketball team in South Dakota is Armour, who won 64 straight games ('78-'80).

Greg Beesley is a content producer for South Dakota Public Broadcasting