Rainy River Men’s Basketball Punch Their Ticket to Nationals

by Annika Freiburger

International Falls, MN-Over the weekend, the Rainy River Voyageurs defeated St. Cloud Tech Tech, Rochester, and Riverland at the Region XIII men’s basketball tournament to earn their first ever national tournament berth. This was Rainy River’s first appearance in the Region XIII championship since 1991. Looking forward, the Voyageurs are poised to make waves on the national stage, carrying with them the hopes and dreams of an entire community. The journey doesn’t end with the regional triumph; it serves as a stepping stone for greater challenges and higher aspirations. As the team prepares for the national tournament, there’s a sense of excitement and anticipation within the Rainy River community.

In the quarter finals, Rainy River held St Cloud to 18pts in the first half then staved off a furious second half comeback. Berrian Delinois led the Voyageurs with 15pts as Rainy River’s balanced attack and energy held St Cloud at bay. Srdan Vujanovic said, “This weekend was all about preparation and opportunity.” Nate Misher added, “That every day you have an opportunity to be great and we couldn’t let these games get away from us.” 

 The Voyageurs fell behind to Rochester by 9 at halftime but were able to force 26 turnovers and salt away the victory. Christian Pujals, Tyrecke Francois, and Malik Siggers finished the game with 16pts, 17pts, and 18pts respectively. Tyrecke Francois said, “The dogs had to be unleashed for this one.” Jordan Thompson added that, “When you are down stay relentless, when you are up stay connected.” Furthermore, Butchiny Lordeus stated, “We just needed to wear on them” and Malik Siggers commented, “It’s heart over height; it’s been that way all year.”

In the championship game, Riverland jumped out to an 18-point lead behind a blistering 50% shooting from behind the arc. The Voyageurs whittled the lead to nine by half as the Rainy River defense started to spearhead a comeback. It took 19 minutes, in the second half, but the Voyageurs took the lead on a Malik Siggers lay-up which was followed by two Riverland free throws then with the game tied, Siggers drove the lane and found Butchiny Lordeus for the game winning deuce. Jose Martino said, “Giving up was never an option.” Tyheim Williams added, “Every day we are blessed with great opportunities and it was our responsibility to each other to not quit.” Khanye Bland added that, the experience with his teammates was priceless.”  In finality Berrian Delinois said, ” Blessed is the man who stands steadfast under trial.”

As the Rainy River Voyageurs relish their hard-earned victory, their eyes are now set on the grand stage of the national tournament. With their sights firmly fixed on March 13-16th at Herkimer College in Herkimer, New York, the Voyageurs are eager to bring their A-game to the court and showcase the tenacity and skill that have propelled them to this momentous occasion. For this spirited team, the journey is far from over; it’s a countdown to the pinnacle of collegiate basketball, where they will compete with passion and determination, etching yet another chapter in the illustrious story of Rainy River sports.