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Entire State of South Dakota Should Be Proud

University of South Dakota at South Dakota State University Men's Basketball
Dave Eggen/Inertia

South Dakota and South Dakota State put on the most exciting performance of this year’s Summit League tournament, something that should instill pride in the entire state of South Dakota.

The Jackrabbits defeated the Coyotes at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center on Monday night. While the final score, 74-71, had the Jackrabbits moving on to Tuesday’s Summit League Championship, both teams and fanbases must feel an immense amount of pride for their performances tonight and over the course of the season.

Look, I know there are no moral victories, and beating South Dakota State in the Summit League tournament is still a major hurdle the Coyotes are trying to leap, but the show both teams put on tonight is unmatched in college basketball circles.

From the packed stands and cheering fans to the intelligent coaching to the clutch shooting from Matt Mooney and Michael Orris, this was a championship-level performance.

It is so rare to get the kind of atmosphere we saw, heard and felt in the PREMIER Center in a conference semifinal matchup. Especially with tournaments at neutral sites, that kind of energy is nearly impossible to obtain, that level of competition is nearly impossible to grasp and that amount of emotion is nearly impossible to fathom.

For Coyote fans, it’s going to sting. The loss will hurt. It will be be bothersome, cumbersome and a nuisance. But South Dakota fans should never forget the success that the 2016-17 season brought. It brought a Summit League regular season title, a No. 1 seed in the Summit League tournament and one of the most exciting college basketball games in 2017.

Over time, hopefully South Dakota fans can learn to see that.

For Jackrabbit fans, revel in tonight’s joy. No matter what the Summit League Championship game brings, enjoy tonight’s comeback performance and the thrilling conclusion your team put together.

The Summit League Championship is Tuesday night, but on Monday night, the entire state of South Dakota, from the fans to the players to the facilities, showed its championship prowess.

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