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Pine Ridge sophomore Joe O'Rourke lays it in against St. Francis.
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Joe O'Rourke is Panic Button's Region 7A sixth man of the year
Mar 8, 2017

By Rich Winter

Have seen Pine Ridge sophomore Joe O'rouke three times in the last two weeks and each time have come away impressed with exactly what this young man brings to Corey Shangreaux's Thorpes every time he steps on the court.


O'Rouke played well in the regular season finale, a win over Todd County (Don't have exact point totals)


In the Region 7A semifinal win over St. Francis, O'Rourke came off the bench to deliver 15 big points in a win by the Thorpes.


In Tuesday's Sweet-16 loss to MVP, O'Rourke came off the bench to deliver 16 big points and a late three that cut the lead to a single possession late when it looked like MVP had put it away. 


Watched that game pretty intently last night and O'Rourke does a lot of good things for the Thorpes. Good ball handler, terrific outside shooter and a guy who seems to anticipate what the other team is doing and steps in passing lines and times deflection attempts at just the right moment.


For his efforts, down the stretch, and really all season long, O'Rourke is Panic Button's Region 7A sixth man of the year. 


Thorpes offered up gritty effort in loss to MVP. 

I'm sure a lot of heavy basketball hearts over Pine Ridge today. While nothing is going to take away the sting of the 81-77 loss that left the Thorpes an eyelash away from the state tournament, Ridge is young, and based on the effort offered last night is a program that is going to be kicking down the state tournament door next season.


After falling behind early the Thorpes finished the first quarter on fire, breaking from a 15-15 tie to take the lead on a Halin Bad Bear 3-pointer. A Charles Schrader feed to Janis for a score, a Joe O'Rourke 3-pointer and a baseline drive and finish from Corey Crown gave Pine Ridge a 25-18 lead after one. 


Corey Brown, who finished with 22 points muscled in a hoop to give the Thorpes a 31-25 lead. Brown scored again moments later and after a Bad Bear steal and a patient push that eventually resulted in a Schrader 3-point make from the top of the key gave Ridge a 36-26 lead. Another score from Brown, on a pretty step through gave the Thorpes a 38-26 lead forcing MVP to call time.


For a moment it looked like MVP was on the ropes but the Titans closed the half on an 8-2 run and trailed just 40-36 at half. 

Brown finished the first half with 16 points.


MVP scored the first six points of the third quarter and led 42-40 before Kevin Jack knocked down his only points of the night, a trey that put Pine Ridge back on top, 43-42.

Tied at 49, a nice drive rom Schrader, an inside hoop from Brown and top-of-the-key 3-point make from O'rouke put Pine Ridge in the lead, 56-51 after three quarters.


A pretty tip from Janis, a feed from Schrader to Janis and a steal and finish from O'Rourke gave Pine Ridge a 62-57 lead at the 5:48 mark.

Playing just seven players on the night, six regularly, Pine Ridge looked tired in the middle part of the fourth. Shots that had been finding nothing but net, suddenly came up short and MVP came storming back to take the lead, 65-64 with 3:55 remaining. 


MVP capped an 11-2 run with a made 3-pointer that extended the lead to 68-64 with 3:20 remaining. 


Having been in the lead most of the game, only to see that lead and the dreams of going to the state tournament start to fade, Pine Ridge could have folded up shop and mailed it in.


They didn't!

Bad Bear converted a basket, knocked down a free throw that kept it close, trailing 70-67. O'Rouke pulled down an offensive rebound and fnished that cut the lead to 70-69.


Pine Ridge trailed 76-69 with 48 seconds remaining and looked done but just kept firing. 


Bad Bear knocked down a 3-pointer with 40 seconds remaining and Brown banged home an inside hoop to cut it to 76-74 with 21 seconds remaining. 


MVP knocked down a free-throw, missed the second but grabbed their own offensive board. After three made free-throws that extended the Titan lead to 79-74, O'Rourke buried a three that cut the lead to 79-77 with 11 seconds remaining.


MVP knocked down four consecutive free-throws and advanced to the state tournament for the third consecutive year with the 81-77 win. 


While Pine Ridge lost they picked up a new fan in MVP coach, Eric Denning. 

"I wasn’t comfortable until the final buzzer sounded," Denning said. "Corey Brown uses his body so well and plays so big. They are a very good basketball team and I thought they really competed." 

Pine Ridge finished the year, 17-6, Mt. Vernon/Plankinton advanced to the state tournament as a No. 5 seed, they will play Sioux Falls Christain in the first round of the Class A state tournament next Thursday. 

Pine Ridge scoring: 

Pine Ridge (17-6): Charles Schrader 3 0-0 7 Michael Janis 6 0-0 12 Halin Bad Bear 7 1-2 18 Corey Brown 11 0-0 22 Kevin Jack 1 0-0 3 Joe O'Rourke 6 0-0 15 Totals 34 1-4 77.

The complete broadcast of MVP and Pine Ridge can be viewed at www.liveticket.tv


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