Tea Area Earns State Tournament Birth

High School

Posted On: 03/8/18 10:00 AM

Tea Area will go back to the state tournament to defend their title after their 66-48 win over Sisseton in the Round of 16 on Wednesday night in Watertown.

Sisseton scored the first points of the game, which ended up to be the only time they led the whole game. After that, the Titans dominated more than the score showed.

The Titans (17-5) had a considerable height disadvantage, but after looking at the final rebounding stats you would have guessed Tea had the advantage. The Titans outrebounded the Redmen 47-29, with 12 offensive rebounds to Sisseton’s 7.

Sisseton’s Dion Iyarpeya had a double-double with 25 points and 12 boards. But besides him there wasn’t a lot of offense for the Redmen, the next highest scorer was Benji Thompson with 10 points, but only had three in the second half. Iryarpeya exploded for 20 points in the second half after only scoring 5 points the first half. He was giving everything he had to try to bring his team back, but Tea answered anytime he got something going.

The Titans nailed a three to beat the halftime buzzer to go up 32-18. At halftime, the Titans had more assists than the Redmen had made field goals (8 assists to 7 made FG’s). Sisseton got to the free throw line nine times in the first half compared to zero times for the Titans but was only able to convert on three of those nine times.  The Titans had a better three-point percentage then the Redmen had total field goal percentage (37 percent to 26 percent). Six of Tea’s 13 made field goals in the first half were three-pointers.

Sisseton never gave up, searching for their first state tournament birth since 2013-2014 where they ironically defeated Tea in the semi-finals, cutting the deficit to single digits once in the third quarter and then for the last time in the fourth quarter.

The last time they cut the deficit to single digits was shortly after Tea junior Kaleb Joffer picked up his fifth foul early in the fourth. The Redmen made a couple free throws to cut it to single digits, but after a couple empty possessions for both teams, Tea junior Noah Friedel made back-to-back post moves to push the lead back to 14 before a Sisseton timeout with 4:38 left to play.

The Titans struggled with foul trouble the whole second half as junior Justin Hohn picked up his fourth foul midway the third quarter. Senior Chris Morales had four fouls for a good portion of the final minutes and Friedel picked up his fourth foul with 2:12 left to go. With all the foul trouble the Titans didn’t seem to miss a beat and stayed aggressive till the end.

Sisseton trimmed the lead to 15, 62-47 with 1:57 left to go after an Iyarpeya three-pointer, but the Redmen would only score one more point. Iyarpeya played hard, leaving the game in the last 40 seconds with cramp.


Tea Area shot 43 percent from the field and 37 percent from deep. They got to the line 12 times, after failing to get there once in the first half, and made seven for 58 percent.

Like we said in the preview, Sisseton would have to shoot well for them to win and to win the rebounding margin. They ended up shooting 30 percent from the field and 29 percent from deep, they also lost the rebounding margin by 18, 47-29.

Iyarpeya is one heck of a player, he gave everything he had to try to bring back the Redmen scoring 25 of the 48 points.

The Titans were effective in sharing the ball to find the open shot. They tallied 16 assists compared to Sisseton’s five.

Friedel led the Titans with 32 points. Morales ended up with 17 points and junior Kade Stearns had 9 for the Titans.

Tea Area awaits its state-tournament opponent, which will likely be decided today at the conclusion of all Round of 16 games. The state tournament will be held March 15-17 in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center at Rapid City.

For Sisseton, they end their season at 15-6 and lose five seniors, including Iyarpey and the other four starters.