Bison back in state tournament for the first time since 1945

The Hot Springs Bison have not been to a boys state basketball tournament since World War II ... that is changing this week as they make their way to Sioux Falls to take on the Pine Ridge Thorpes Thursday in the opening round at 6 o'clock Mountain Time ... I went down to practice the other day to see how they're taking it.

1945 ... that's the last time a boys basketball team from Hot Springs ... so it's safe to say that the town and school are a little excited for this year's trip ...

Alex Bilbruck said, "Around town it's been great. The day we won we came down and we had this huge almost parade follow us around town. It was just awesome. And around school it's basically just been a lot of posters, a lot of people congratulating us ... it's been great actually."

Hot Springs heads to Sioux Falls as the No. 5 seed for an opening round game against the Pine Ridge Thorpes and head coach Aaron Noteboom says the community and the team are excited to show the rest of the state what they're capable of on the big stage.

Noteboom said, "It's been a lot of excitement all year, the community has been supportive of the guys all year so to see them make it to the state tournament has been a great thing for the kids and the community both."

The Bison knocked off Lead-Deadwood, Rapid City Christian and Winner to reach state after being knocked out in the Round of 16 the past two seasons. Noteboom credits his senior class with setting an example that the rest of the program could follow, both this season and down the road.

"We've got a group of seniors that have worked hard for us for a long time now and they've kind of set the tone as to what we need to see in practice on a daily basis and it's been good."

One of those seniors says the heartbreak of the past two seasons is what has fueled this year's team as it looks to surprise some folks come Thursday night against the favored Thorpes.

Harris said, "Two years ago when I was a sophomore we were one game away from getting to state two years in a row I told myself and the team has it with me. We're getting to state. We were so close two times and we just couldn't go through our high school career not getting there you know? And we just grinded and got things done ... and now we're here."

The Bison certainly are here ... and they hope that the foundation this 2019 team is laying will be something the program can be built upon for years to come.