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DSU's Huntimer to play in national basketball tournament
March 17, 2011
Dakota State's Nick Huntimer and his CSD Arctic Warriors basketball team have earned a shot at national honors in the USA Deaf Basketball National Tournament on March 31-April 2 in Bloomington, Minn.
Huntimer, DSU's sports information director/technology coordinator, and the Arctic Warriors picked off the Lincoln (Neb.) Independent Team 87-83 in the Midwest Athletic Association of the Deaf (MAAD) tournament at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., recently.
The Warriors, helped along by Huntimer, a forward, constructed a 12-point lead (20-8) and then withstood late charges by Lincoln, last year's MAAD champions and the team Huntimer played for in 2010.
The Arctic Warriors led by as much as 14 points twice (41-27 and 51-37) in the first-half and 51-42 at halftime against Lincoln.
"From that point on, it was a back-and-forth game until we came up strong at the end, winning 87-83 for the first-ever championship in team's history in 66-year MAAD tournament history," said Huntimer.
Leading up to the championship, the Arctic Warriors posted a first-round win over Faribault (Minn.) 89-55 and then came back from behind to post a hard-fought 71-63 victory over Minnepaul in the semifinals (the Arctic Warriors trailed 30-27 at halftime and 36-27 in the opening minutes of the second-half).
The Arctic Warriors didn't even exist in 2010, which made its championship even more pleasing, according to Huntimer.
"It felt great winning our first title - our team deserved it, since we worked so hard together," smiled Huntimer. "Imagine that we tried to get together for practice, it's hard to find a time to practice when we can all be together. Each player is knowledgeable and has talents for basketball. We are all coachable and supportive of each other for motivation. There are several teams that will be going to Nationals already that have practices almost every day."
Huntimer also noted that some of the Arctic Warriors' players played basketball with each other in grade school at the South Dakota School for the Deaf.
Despite not playing together in high school, the Sioux Falls and North Dakota players felt they could still play as a team this season and in the future, according to Huntimer.
"We had a goal and a dream that we wanted to win the Midwest Regional Tournament," said Huntimer. "It's like everyone having a dream of winning a state championship in high school. Despite the fact that we didn't play together in high school, we wanted to prove that we could win the Midwest Regional, just like winning a state high school basketball championship."
"Our primary goal for the Nationals is just to get past the first round," pointed out Huntimer. "Pairings for the Nationals will be announced later, probably during the week before the national tournament starts."
As an adult, Huntimer has played basketball for almost 10 years, including in three Midwest Regional Championship games. He was a Midwest Regional All-Star in 2009. In addition, he was the tournament's top rebounder in the 2007 Midwest Regional Tournament.
The Arctic Warriors are sponsored by Communication Service for the Deaf in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Dan Holsworth, Dakota State University Athletics Assistant