A year ago, we witnessed Pierre Riggs’ “Green Power” in full force as they won the Class AA Championship after some struggles earlier in the year. The Class A crown went to a balanced and talented Madison team when favorite Clark-Willow Lake fell in the opening round to Platte-Geddes, which has moved to Class B in 2013-14. And in Class B, White River won a second straight title and their fourth in six years. Head Coach Eldon Marshall's Tigers have made eight straight final fours at the Class B Tourney.
The die is cast - will any of these three teams repeat? Madison (Class A) looks like the favorite while both Pierre (Class AA) and White River (Class B) were hit hard by graduation.
Now, the light turns on for every team this week, and as we know from past performance, anything can happen and usually does in South Dakota prep boys basketball. So, get ready, games tip off this week. I can’t wait.
Class AA – Boys
This class appears to be wide open. With defending champion Pierre hit hard by graduation, the door is open for a new champion. The teams at the head of the group include Sioux Falls Lincoln, Huron, Brandon Valley and others.
Head of the Class – Sioux Fall Lincoln appears to be a team with a lot of upside in 2013-14. While just 13-13 a year ago, the Patriots finish fourth at the State AA Tourney, making a 30th state tourney appearance since taking second at the 1968 State A. It was the Patriots eighth tournament appearance in nine years. SFL, which won titles in 1970, 1976, 1995 and 2009, took second four other times and have had eight finals appearancea. Lincoln was ranked third in the KSFY-KWSN SD Broadcasters Preseason Poll but earned five first-place votes, most of any school. The Patriots return a pair of standout senior forwards in Addison Park (11.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 52.4% from the floor) and Calvin Krause. They get back Cameron Burgard, who was out last year with injury. They also have tough 6-1 guard/forward Caleb Rector. Brandon Valley, which was #1 in the KSFY-KWSN SD Broadcasters Poll, has one of the best point guards in the class in Nic Peterson while also bringing back talented shooting guard/forward Jacob Adams, who had 15 double digit scoring games and a high of 27 vs. Lincoln. Adams averaged 12.5 ppg and 5.7 rpg a year ago. Peterson, who had 13 double figure scoring games and averaged 11.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game a year ago, creates pressure out front, which will cause some teams problems bringing the ball up the floor. BV, directed by head coach Brent Deckert, was 18-7 and 2nd in the Class AA State Tournament a year ago. The Lynx, which made its 12th tourney appearance, won its only State AA title in 1998. BV has gone to the State AA in three of the last four seasons with the first-ever appearance a third-place finish in 1965. Huron, directed by head coach Tim Buddenhagen, were 16-9 in 2012-13 and sixth in the Class AA Tourney (61-54 loss to Brookings). Huron, 77-44 over the last five seasons, will be led by USD recruit Justin Decker, a 6-6 forward who averaged 15.8 ppg and 6.0 rpg while shooting 48 percent from the field. Huron also returns 6-6 senior forward Caleb Carr, 5-11 senior guard Will Carr, 6-0 forward Lucas Morrison and others. Huron (1917, 1927, 1930, 1936, 1937, 1945, 1958, 1973, 1981, 1993, 2004) has won 11 titles and finished second five other times with 48 state tourney appearances, five of the last six.
In the Mix – Rapid City Stevens was 11-15 a year ago and seventh in the Class AA State Tournament. The Raiders defeated city rival Rapid City Central in the 7th place game. By going to the State Tourney a year ago, Stevens, directed by head coach Derris Buus, made their 17th AA tournament appearance and the first since 2007. Stevens won the 1989 title and was second in 1977, and 1995. This team returns talented 6-2 senior guard Steve Schaeffer, who averaged 19.1 ppg, 3.7 rebounds and hits 44.2% from the field. He is one of the state’s best guards and looks for a big senior campaign. Also back will be 5-10 senior guard Jacob Vifquain (6.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg), 6-0 senior guard Matt Wilson (3.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg), and 6-5 junior forward Sam McCloud (3.4 ppg and 4.5 rpg), an up and coming player who has had a great summer. S.F. Roosevelt, which was 23-2, finished 3rd at 2013 State AA Tourney. Roosevelt, which made its 11th state tournament appearance, won its only title in 2000. The Rough Riders, directed by head coach Lee Taylor, has gone to the State AA three of the last four years and three times has finished third. Roosevelt was hit hard by graduation but return Chris Phillips (4.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg), Josh Kirkwold (4.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg) and Colton Kooima (3.9 ppg). Kooima, a deadly shooter from the perimeter, hit 42 percent from three point range. S.F. O’Gorman, 6-16 a year ago, missed out on the 2013 State AA Tournament. While last year was tough for head coach Derek Robey and his troops, O’Gorman entered last year with five AA titles in seven years, including three straight championships. Returning to lead what should be an improved O’Gorman team will be seniors include Connor Nagel (6-2, Jr., G/F), Tanner Schulte j(5-11, Jr., G), Tommy Entwisle (6-4, Jr., F/C), Spencer Hopkins (6-3, Jr., F/C), Max Donohue (5- 11, Jr., F), and Jaden Holzer (5-11, Jr., G). Out west, Sturgis Brown is another team that could surprise some folks. While just 8-15 a year ago, they have nearly every player back, including 6-7 junior center Kellen Barden, who was a double digit scorer a year ago. They will be led by 5-11 junior guard Kody Kracht along with 6-3 senior guard Tanner Weaver, who was the starting QB on their football team. If Jason Schneider, a 5-10 junior guard, comes back from a football injury this squad, led by head coach Orion Thompson, could open some eyes. Sturgis Brown has won two titles (1951, 1947) with three total championship game appearances in 18 total state tourney appearances with the most recent in 2011.
Genz’s Power Poll – 1. SF Lincoln 2. Brandon Valley 3. Huron 4. Rapid City Stevens 5. SF Roosevelt.
Class A – Boys
As the season kicks off, defending champion Madison looks like the heavy favorite to repeat. They have three titles in six years and want to make it four in seven. However, teams like St. Thomas More, Dakota Valley, Aberdeen Roncalli and others also plan to make their case as a title aspirant. We will see.
Head of the Class – Madison, utilizing extraordinary balance, finished 24-2 with a Class A title a year ago. The Bulldogs, which made their 23rd state tournament appearance, has won five championships, including in 1921, 1945, 2008, 2010 and 2013. Madison, the #1 team in the KSFY-KWSN SD Broadcasters Poll in Class A, have finished runner-up five times for 10 total championship game appearances. The Bulldogs, which averaged 68.4 points per game a year ago, had a 22-point victory margin (68.4-to-46.3 ppg). Madison, directed by head coach Michael Ricke, has compiled a 172-25 record in the past eight seasons with 20-win campaigns five times. They have won 20 games or more in 4-of-the-last-5 seasons. This year’s team will feature several talented performers, led by senior Trae Vandeberg (11.6 ppg and 5.2 rpg), who hit over 50 percent from 3-point range. Jacob Giles (7.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg), and Preston Nordling (5.3 ppg) are other key players back. This Bulldogs team will be good again.
In the Mix – St. Thomas More, which was 20-2 a year ago, lost in districts to Spearfish, 41-36. One of the state’s top teams a year ago, STM returns some outstanding talent including 6-1 senior forward Jeron Laurenti, 6-3 senior forward Jacob Henderson, 6-2 junior forward Lincoln Feist, and 5-11 guard Caden Skinner, among others. Dave Hollenbeck’s team won titles in 2012, 2011, 2007 and 2006 while finishing second in 2010 with seven total state tourney appearances. So, they have reached title game in three of the past four seasons. Dakota Valley, 17-6 a year ago, lost 57-55 to state-tourney team Tea Area in the region finals. The Panthers, led by head coach Jason Kleis, has two state tourney appearances (2011-12, 2nd; 1999-00). The Panthers will be led by sharpshooter Brody Van Ginkel (5-10, Sr., G, 11.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.5 spg) as well Isaac Faldmo (6-5, Sr., G/F, 8.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.9 rpg), Jason Lupkes (6-4, Sr., F, 9.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg) forward and Andrew Prochello (6-1, Sr., F, 4.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg). Aberdeen Roncalli, 17-6 a year ago and sixth at the State A Tourney, has qualified for four consecutive State A Tourneys. The Cavaliers, directed by head coach Todd Neuendorf, has 13 state tourney appearances and one title (1975). Leading the team will be 6-1 junior guard, Brayden McNeary (6.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg) along with 6-2 senior forward Zach Andera (8.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg). The Cavaliers will also include 6-1 senior guard Zach Schaefbauer (5.7 ppg, 1.4 rpg), 6-2 senior forward Lucas Lorenz (4.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg) along with 6-3 junior forward Landon Hollein, 6-1 junior guard Zach Lundquist and 5-10 senior guard Greg Zens. Canton, 12-9 a year ago, will chase its first-ever state crown with what should be a very talented squad. Canton, directed by veteran head coach Paul Anderson (171 career wins), has made six state tournament appearances with the first in 1917 and the most recent, 1985, some 28 years ago. The C-Hawks, which will look to add a basketball title to its 11B football crown, will be led by 6-4 senior forward Cody Willett (17.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.7 apg) and 5-10 senior guard Jay Lems (12.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.6 apg). In addition, 5-11 junior guard Anders Peterson (9.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg) and 6-1 senior forward Tyler Lems (6.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg) around out a solid group. Sisseton, 16-7 a year ago and 51-14 over the past three seasons, dropped a 56-54 decision to state-tourney team Aberdeen Roncalli in regions. Sisseton, directed by head coach Adam Nelson, has won one title (1963) with 14 state tournament appearances. They will look to return to the State A for the first time since 2009. This team could be tough with outstanding size and quickness. They are led by standout 6-6 senior guard Jordan Cornelius and 6-8 senior center Wyatt Youngblum. Also back will be 6-1 guard Brayden Tasa, and 5-8 senior guard Korbyn Bertsch. Pine Ridge, 14-11 a year ago, will be seeking a fourth title this year under the direction of Lyle LeBeau. Pine Ridge has made 20th state tournament appearances with titles in 1936, 1962 and 1987 and runners-up in 1963. A year ago Pine Ridge advanced to its first state appearance since 2004, led by senior forward Jeff LeBeau (17.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 4.2 apg), one of the top players in Class A. Also back will be 6-2 senior forward Jake Brown (12.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg), 5-11 senior forward Jacob Dreamer (10.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg), 6-4 senior center Mike Brings Plenty (5.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) 6-1 senior forward Ki-Jana Gray Grass (2.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg) as well as 5-11 senior guard Jeramy Bettelyoun (1.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg).Sioux Valley hasn’t been in the state title conversation lately with its last state tourney appearance in 2010. In the past three years, they are 36-29 after going 79-24 from 2007-10 when they made four straight State A Tourney appearances. Overall, they have nine tourney appearances with three third-place finishes (2001, 1973, 1972) but no state titles. This team could be a surprise with the return of the core of its lineup, including talented 6-3 freshman guard Tayton Vincent, son of head coach Bill Vincent. They also return 5-10 senior guard Kyler Krogh, 6-2 senior forward Tyler Tofte, 5-11 senior guard Layne Lucas, 6-6 senior center Spencer Hanson and 6-4 senior forward Greg Reeter. Another team that could cause some problems is Cheyenne-Eagle Butte, which returns a talented core group. CEB, 10-11 a year ago, feature one of the top players in Class A in 6-3 senior guard Xavier Norris (18.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 4.4 apg) and also return a solid 6-3 senior forward in Cray Allen (12.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and a 6-3 senior center Wyatt Knight (4.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg). CEB has made 19 tournament appearances, winning the 1959 state title (as Cheyenne) with the most recent state tourney appearance in 2003. Another team that could be in the mix will be Custer, which was 11-9 a year ago. Custer is directed by one of the greatest coaches in prep history in Larry Luitjens, who compiled a 733-298 record in 41 years as a head basketball coach (40 in South Dakota). After one year in North Dakota and four years at DeSmet High School, Luitjens, a native of Britton, S.D., and graduate of Northern State, has coached 36 seasons at Custer, which last won the title in 2002 and finished second in 2003. He has coached more than 20 all-state players. In total, the Wildcats have 17 state tourney appearances with the first in 1954. Custer will be led by 6-5 senior guard Chase Glazier, a talented player who was the QB on the football team. The Wildcats also return 6-1 senior forward Logan Burns and 6-1 senior guard Kenneth Meyers.
Genz’s Power Poll – 1. Madison 2. Dakota Valley 3. Sisseton 4. Aberdeen Roncalli 5. Sioux Valley.
Class B – Boys
White River has owned Class B over the past several years. The two-time defending champion should again be in the hunt but graduation took a heavy toll with the loss of standouts like Wyatt Krogman, Nic Waln, Joe Cameron and Gilbert Morrison. With the door a little ajar, look for some other teams to lay claim for a title. Langford Area, Potter County, James Valley Christian, Castlewood, Platte-Geddes and others are teams that should be serious contenders for all the marbles in Class B.
Head of the Class – Langford Area, 20-6 a year ago, finished sixth at the 2012-13 Class B Tournament. It was Langford Area’s fifth overall state tournament appearance and third since 2007. They were third two years ago but have not won a state title. Langford Area sets up to be one of the top contenders in Class B. They are directed by seventh-year head coach Paul Raasch (27th overall), who is 141-28 at Langford and 405-185 overall. Langford Area return one of the best players in Class B in 6-3 junior Bo Fries (18.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 7.3 apg, 2.3 spg), as well as 6-3 senior Drew Planteen (12.0 ppg, 8.9 rpg and 2.9 bpg). They also return 6-1 senior guard Chase Larson (3.1 ppg and 2.7 rpg) and 6-2 senior forward Zach Punt (6.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg). James Valley Christian, 23-3 a year ago, was fifth in the Class B Tournament a year ago. JVC, directed by head coach Darwin Hofer, has not won a title but made the State B for the fourth time (2013, 1011, 2010, 2004), including three times in the past four years. They will be led by a pair of standout forwards in 6-4 senior center Andrew Ulvestad (11.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and 6-4 senior forward Nathan Wedel (17.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg), who has 978 career points. Directing the attack will be 5-10 senior guard Alex Waldner (6.9 ppg). Potter County, 23-2 a year ago, finished 7th at the Class B State Tourney. A year ago the Battlers, directed by Bryce Hall, finished the regular season unbeaten at 22-0 before going 1-2 at the state tourney. Potter County averaged 57.1 ppg, 15.6 steals per game and 22.5 rebounds per game in making state in its first year as a co-op with Gettysburg and Hoven. Neither of the schools has captured a state basketball title. Hoven made one appearance at state in 1989 while Gettysburg was second in 1950, sixth in 1970, eighth in 1975, consolation champs in 2002 with other appearances in 2004 and 2005. The Battlers are led by the coach’s son and senior Chayce Hall (14.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.5 apg, 4.2 spg, 16 3’s), who was the Joe Robbie Award winner in the Battlers’ title win in 9A in football. Also back will be senior sharpshooter Kole Hawkinson (12.3 ppg, 43-of-114 for 38.4 percent from 3-point range). The Battlers also return Tanner Heuer (8.1 ppg, 2.8 spg), and Mitch Hinckley (4.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.0 spg).
In the Mix –Platte-Geddes, 17-9 a year ago, was third at Class A Tourney a year ago. Now they have moved to Class B (District 11) and will look to win their first ever B School which would go with a 2008 A title. They have been to five B tourneys, including the first one in 1945 as Platte. They also appeared in 12 State A Tourney, three as Platte-Geddes and nine as Platte. The Panthers will be led by 6-4 junior forward Coby Johnson (13.2 ppg, 6-4 rpg), who helped orchestrate the upset of #1 Clark-Willow Lake at last year’s state tourney. Wolsey-Wessington , 20-2 a year ago, lost in the districts to James Valley Christian, 63-58. They had defeated JVC, 62-57 10 days earlier and knocked JVC out of the tournament in 2011-12. Wolsey-Wessington suffered some graduation losses (Hayden Hooks) but return standout 6-1 junior guard Lorenzo Williams (16.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.4 apg, 4.2 spg), 5-8 senior guard Ryne Johnson (4.6 ppg, 1.4 apg) and 6-4 senior forward Alex Babcock (10.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.7 spg). A year ago, they averaged nearly 68 points per outing and could do that again. Wolsey-Wessington missed on the state tourney a year ago but made it in 2012. As Wolsey, they finished third in 1955, qualified in 1957 and, as Wessington, was the 1972 runner-up in Class B.Sully Buttes, 11-12 a year ago, lost to Potter County, 50-43 in the regional tourney. A young team, Sully Buttes returns 6-2 sophomore forward Scott Senftner, 5-9 sophomore guard Cody Nelson, 5-9 junior guard Brayden Wittler, 5-11 senior forward Josh Lamb, and 6-0 senior guard Lewis Hofer. Keep an eye on this group, which is part of a program that have gone 149-49 since 2005 with four 20-win seasons and seven seasons of at least 18 wins. Sully Buttes won the 2009 Class B crown and made eight straight state tourney appearances before last year. As Sully Buttes, the Chargers have been 13 state tournament appearances with the one title. Including their time as Onida, they have three more State B appearances with titles in 1953 and 1969 and a runners-up finish in 1968. Castlewood, 11-7 a year ago, lost to Arlington, 63-51 in district finals. Before that early out a year ago, the Warriors, directed by head coach John Rasmussen, had reached the last two state B tourneys but missed last season. They won a state title in 1999 and 2001 and were second in 2000 and 2003 with 10 total state tourney appearances. Castlewood will be a team to watch with plenty of size and strength, led by 6-5 senior forward Lucas Ching (14.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.2 bpg) and his twin brother Adam Ching, also a 6-5 senior forward, who averaged 9.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg and 1.7 apg. Also back is talented 6-4 senior guard-forward Gunnar Johnson, who scored 14.2 ppg (40-116 from 3 pt. range) with 3.8 rpg and 2.3 apg. Also back will be 6-0 junior guard Jacob Tvedt (5.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg). Arlington , 17-7 a year ago, took 8th at the 2012-13 Class B Tourney. A year ago, Arlington advanced to the state tourney for the first time since 2008 and 11th overall. They won state titles in 1938 (32-17 over Doland), 1968 (69-64 over Parker) and 2006 (64-57 over Faith). Arlington is coached by Mike Parry, who has 187 career wins with the opportunity to get to 200 this season. His team returns 6-0 senior guard Andrew King, who averaged 15 points, 4.7 rebounds and five assists per game in a state tourney run. Also back will be 5-11 junior forward Tanner Lemme (3.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg) and 6-7 junior center Kyle Stegeman. Oelrichs, 46-7 over the past three years and 16-2 a year ago, will be another tough team in Class B with the return of standout guard Eriq Swiftwater, who interestingly played football for Hot Springs this fall. Swiftwater, a 6-2 senior, averaged about 17 points and grabs seven rebounds per game for Oelrichs, coached by Rob Cox But the problem for Oelrichs is they are in the same region as White River. And, of course, we can’t forget about White River, 25-1 a year ago with another state title, defeating Viborg-Hurley in the final for the second straight season (63-51). White River averaged 86.69 points per game a year ago, totaling 2,254 points. For the first time in school history, the Tigers won back-to-back titles (52-43 over Viborg-Hurley in 2011-12) to go along with championships in 1955 (56-55 over Hayti), 2008 (66-50 over Langford), and 2010 (66-63 over Hitchcock-Tulare) for five total. The influence of head coach Eldon Marshall has been significant during this incredible run. Marshall has a career mark of 228-58 in 12 seasons, including 208-38 at White River in 10 seasons. He has led this program to the State B final four eight straight years and into the title game six consecutive times with four titles. The school has also made tournament appearances in 1949, 1956, 1993, 2006 (4th), 2007 (3rd), 2009 (2nd) and 2011 (2nd). White Lake finished the season scoring 86 points or more 14 times, 90 points 10 times with six games over 100. White River won 24-of-26 games by at least 12 points and 20 by 20 or more. This program has won at least 21 games in eight straight seasons, going 50-2 over the last two years. It is an overall mark of 182-24 or a winning percentage of .883. Pretty impressive. Looking ahead, Marshall has to replace a lot of key players who have been lost to graduation, They include Joe Cameron, Wyatt Krogman, Nic Waln and Gilbert Morrison. However White River return 6-1 senior forward Tavis Burbank (10.2 ppg and 7.4 rebounds), 5-11 junior guard Tre Iyotte (4.9 ppg), and 6-7 junior center Justin Folkers. And, it should be noted that the junior varsity members will be given their chance to shine. From what I have heard, they are pretty good. So in White River, the beat goes on.
Genz’s Power Poll – 1. Langford Area 2. James Valley Christian 3. Potter County 4. Platte-Geddes 5. Castlewood.