NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. (KCAU) – A loss to Sioux Valley in the State semifinals two years ago, didn’t sit well with Dakota Valley.
“We all remember the looks on the faces of the seniors after they lost and we just knew we didn’t want to feel that again,” Dakota Valley senior guard Randy Rosenquist said.
One year later, they’d get a rematch in the Class A State final. Staying true to their word, the Panthers would prevail towards a perfect season and the program’s first State title. And with the top 5 scorers coming back in 2022-23, DV knew they had the pieces to stay dominant.
“I think it’s just kind of hitting us now, hopefully not a week too early, before the State tournament,” Dakota Valley head coach Jason Kleis said. “But I think it’s hitting us a bit on what this team has accomplished.”
Winning has been the theme ever since.
Averaging 77 points per game while allowing just 53, DV has rolled through regular season and regional play. 23 wins, 0 losses. Performing at a level that’s been a nightmare for opponents to match.
“Just a chemistry thing, we know each other off and on the court, we know where each other is at all the time,” Dakota Valley junior center Jaxson Wingert said. “I know that they got my back and I got their back.”
“Playing together has really helped us throughout the years, especially these last two,” Rosenquist said.
A streak that would be stamped in South Dakota history on March 7th. Defeating Miller off a season-high 94 points for their 50th consecutive win. Eclipsing the 1989-1991 Custer team to stand alone in the Class A record books, and punching their ticket back to State.
“Our coaches and our team leaders did a pretty good job of taking it one game at a time and not focusing a ton on that record, but 50 wins in a row is pretty cool,” Dakota Valley senior guard Isaac Bruns said.
Togertheness has been key in the Panther’s run, even in the toughest moments. So when Randy Rosenquist’s father suffered a severe stroke in February that required emergency surgery, the team took to their chests. Repping “All in for Big Rosie” shirts to show support. While Randy took a sharpie to his shoes, keeping his father with him on the court as he recovers.
“With all the stuff going on in my life and all the people who supported me throughout these last few weeks, few months… it’s a bunch of the words I’ve heard probably in my lifetime all from different people. Just live everyday with all those words and all those memories,” Rosenquist said.
An emotional season for DV that’s led to their most important trio of games these next three days. Presenting the Panthers with an opportunity to defend their crown and cement their legacy as one of the best teams DV, and South Dakota, has ever seen.
“The hungriest team is going to win the State tournament,” Kleis said. “I think if we have that mindset it’s going to help us and I think our guys are going to buy into that.”
“If we can get the job done three more games, we’ll remember that for the rest of our lives,” Bruns said. “I think a lot of other people will too.”
Top-seeded Dakota Valley will face off with eight-seed Hot Springs in the Class A State quarterfinals tomorrow at 12:00pm in the Denny Sanford Premiere Center in Sioux Falls. The same venue where the Panthers’ win streak started back in 2021.