Senior Salute for Yankton boys basketball team
It's hard to imagine a worse ending to a season than Yankton's state semifinal loss to O'Gorman in 2019 in which the game winning shot counted despite being after the buzzer.
"I would like to say I should be a three-time state champion but that's not what happened so I can't say that. But in my head, that's what would have happened," Yankton Senior Guard Cooper Cornemann says.
That defeat spurred the Bucks into the next season, and pushed a less experienced team around star returner Matthew Mors to step up.
"Having a lot of sophomores and freshman and two juniors playing you just really had to push them in practice so they would get ready for that. Having them practice against them some of us would tell that practice is harder for them than games," Cornemann says.
As did a schedule that featured games in the Hoop City Classic against some of the nation's top high school talent.
"For our guys to go 17-4 into the state tournament I'm incredibly proud of them and think that that's a great accomplishment they had throughout the season," Yankton Head Coach Chris Haynes says.
With it they'd earned the top seed in this year's state tournament and a chance to erase last season's painful finish.
"We all were ready but I was ready just to clean sweep that and get what we deserved the year before," Cornemann says.
Until the COVID-19 pandemic brought their year to another bizarre conclusion.
"The way our last two seasons finished the odds of that are, you know, incredibly low," Haynes says.
"On this year, especially, I don't really know how to look at it. It's just so different than anything else that's ever happened." Cornemann says.
Though it certainly is easy to feel snake bit.
"We try to focus on not what we didn't accomplish but what we did accomplish. There's a state title in there. There's an ESD conference title in there. But not only that we just think that the way that our guys have handled the situations the last two years have been incredibly well," Haynes says.
These Bucks know the moments on and off the court.
"Our team meals were always pretty exciting. You just had to beat the Mors' there. If you beat Mikey and Matthew and the big guy Hunter (Kotrous) you could eat. But otherwise you weren't going to get food!" Cooper says.
Make the journey more memorable the end.
In Yankton, Zach Borg, Dakota News Now Sports.