Aaker coaches Winner Lady Warriors to State Championship
Every coach’s dream is to win a State Championship. Larry Aaker, head coach of the Winner Lady Warriors basketball team experienced that dream on Saturday, March 16. Coach Aaker and the team knew it wouldn’t be an easy dream to achieve even though the Lady Warriors came into the tournament as the Class A #2 seed with a 21-0 record.
First order of business was to take care of the game against Aberdeen Roncalli. It was a close game, but at the end, the Lady Warriors succeeded with a 59-55 win. Friday brought them up against McCook Central/Montrose, and once again they did a great job with a win of 66-44. This qualified them for the State Championship Game on Saturday where they would be playing the #1 seed West Central Trojans who came into the tournament with a 22-0 record.
The Lady Warriors led 15-14 at the end of the first quarter, but at halftime, they trailed the Trojans 36-32. In the third quarter, Winner outscored West Central 16-8 and gained the lead 48-44; a 12-9 fourth quarter propelled them to win the State Championship with a 60-53 win over the #1 West Central Trojans.
Never in the history of Winner High School has there ever been an undefeated basketball season! They not only had an undefeated season but also made history by winning the first ever State Basketball Championship; doing so while living by their motto for the year: “Whatever it takes.”
Coach Aaker said, “It’s about the girls. We talk about making memories, and that’s what it’s all about. For them to have this memory, what a lifetime thing. Nobody can take this away from them. They mean a lot to me and I’d do anything for them.”
On Monday, March 18, the South Dakota Basketball Coaches Association named Coach Aaker as the Region 8 Girls’ Basketball Coach of the year and Sam Olson as the Assistant Girls’ Basketball Coach of the year. These honors were given after the Lady Warriors finished a 24-0 season and captured the Class A State Championship.
Larry, the son of Helen Aaker (Bison) and Arlen Aaker (Winner) graduated from Bison High School and the University of South Dakota. In his six years as head coach, he has a record of 119-22. He has guided the Lady Warriors to five Big Dakota Conference titles; four SESD conference titles; and Runner-Up finishes at the 2014 and 2016 State A Tournaments. Prior to teaching and coaching in Winner, he taught 6th grade and coached in Bison and Philip.
Congratulations to Coach Larry and the Lady Warriors!!