Thursday is the first round for the girls of Sioux Falls Christian basketball team. They have accomplished what their late teammate would have wanted:a shot at a state championship.

The Chargers will take to the court in honor of Alyssa Thursday in Watertown to take on the no. 1 rated Harrisburg Tigers. Tip off is at noon.

Sioux Falls Christian defeated Madison 62-32 Saturday to win the South Dakota Region 3A championship in the school’s first game since teammate Alyssa Vollmer and three family members died in a one-vehicle crash on Interstate 90 near Sioux Falls.

Senior forward Hayley McCarron, who led the Chargers with 25 points, called it the hardest week of the players’ lives.

“At the beginning of the week, it was really hard to think about playing a game,” McCarron said. “As the week went on and we started to process things, we knew this is what Alyssa would have wanted. Her big goal was to get to the state tournament. We wanted to finish what she started.”

The Feb. 23 accident killed Alyssa’s parents, Jim and Julie, and her 13-year-old brother, Caleb, who also attended Sioux Falls Christian and played football. The oldest daughter, Brittany, was away at college at the time of the crash.

The Charger girls honored Alyssa and Caleb by wearing bright green T-shirts — Alyssa’s favorite color — that displayed her basketball number and his football number. Alyssa’s initials were on the front. On the back, the Bible verse John 16:22 scrolled across the bottom of the shirt while the top read, “We Will Always Remember The Vollmer Family.”

Junior forward Kristin Stern said the team let out their emotions before the game.

“I knew we were all going to be nervous today and have a lot of adrenaline, but I knew we could keep our composure,” she said. “It was such a long week. We were ready to play.”

Jay Woudstra, Sioux Falls Christian superintendent, said Alyssa “played a big role on this team.” He said the game was about supporting Brittany and the Vollmer family.

Good luck, Chargers!

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