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Posted On: 01/8/18 2:19 PM
The Race for Mr. Basketball. The Races are surely heating up with some of the state’s best performing at the best night in and night out.
Across the country PHD is running the “Race for Mr. Basketball” series and today, here is the South Dakota update
The Favorite. AJ Plitzuweit of Vermillion. The Tanagers are 3-3 with Plitzuweit battling with every piece of himself that he can give each game. Vermillion has a stretch of winnable games coming and with each day the guys around him get better. AJ put together an incredible performance against Parkston scoring 28 straight points on his way to 38 for the game plus eight boards and four steals. In the loss to Tea Area, AJ had 28 of his team’s 53. Most of the time the Player of the Year awards double with massive team success but I think’s clear to everyone that Plitzuweit is carrying a massive load and playing at a very high level.
Top Final Five Candidates
Dylan LeBrun of Flandreau. LeBrun was a joy to watch in the Big East Tournament especially in the win over Balatic with 26 points including three treys plus nine boards, five assists, five steals, and five blocks. In the win over Howard Dylan had 22 points and 7 rebounds but he was held to 15 in the 27 point loss to Sioux Valley. Dylan is right there among the leaders but likely needs a big game against a big opponent. Upcoming games with Madison, Sioux Valley, Dell Rapids, and a few others will give him that chance. At 24 plus points and a dozen boards a game the season numbers are strong. Shooting well making 47 percent of his attempts, 36 percent of his threes, and 80 percent of his foul shots.
Aaron Fiegen of Madison. If you watched the Tea/Madison game like we did, you will see some big positives and then something going against Aaron in the run for individual awards. The Bulldogs right now can say they are number one in Class A beating Tea but you also saw fantastic team effort. The Janke brothers were excellent (maybe also should be among this group) along with Aaron and others. They may be too balanced for an individual award but the award they want is a title so I’m sure Aaron would make that trade. Aar’s playing quite well of course including the double-double against Tea Area. Aaron’s numbers are solid but not huge because of the team balance and because he’s had an early fourth quarter seat every game because of the scoring difference.
Mason Larson of Langford Area. The Lions loss to Irene-Wakonda was a blow (Larson had 14/12) but Mason has his team at 6-1 after leading the group to a double overtime win over Lower Brule. In that win Larson scored 27 and he hit a crucial basket at the end of the first overtime to send the game to a second over time. Mason also had 28 in a recent win over Dawson-Boyd.
Kailleb Walton-Blanden has thrust himself into the conversation as a candidate for all the top awards and let’s not forget Dylan Hay. Walton-Blanden’s explosive playmaking ability has his team undefeated taking on all comers from Wyoming, North Dakota, eastern SD, and western SD, and picking up victories. Kailleb had 23 with seven assists in the big win over Aberdeen Central and then scored 15 before going to the bench in the wide margin win over Pierre.
Trevor Hanson of Sioux Valley. The future Augstana center put the state on notice dominating Flandreau inside by putting up 27 points, 14 rebounds, and four blocks. Hanson also had 19 points in the crushing of Parker and another near 16 in the 40 point win over MCM. Sioux Valley is on a seven game roll but Hanson’s game against Flandreau has pushed him to a new level.
Cole Bergan of Aberdeen Central. With every loss his team has the hopes for an individual award slip a tad more. The Eagles have lost four of their last five games including a pair of close games to Stevens and RC Central over the weekend. Cole had six in the win over Huron and ten in the loss to Stevens.
Diang Gatlauk of SF Lincoln. Undefeated this year in South Dakota and pretty good in Minnesota too beating ranked Marshall and four time state championship program Minneapolis Patrick Henry. At 7-1 Lincoln’s only loss to is to one of the elite teams in Minnesota (Hopkins). In the win over Henry, Diang had a tough shooting game but he made 13 of 16 foul shots for his 17 points with 8 rebounds and in the win over Marshall he had 22.
Trevor Olson of Sioux Valley. The Coassacks are on a roll. They have won eight straight since an early December loss and have recently beaten Flandreau and Dell Rapids. Olson shined on a big stage hitting four threes against Flandreau in the Big East Conference title championship game. He had 22 there, a dozen in the Parker win, and 16 in the win over MCM.
Lincoln Jorde of Sully Buttes. The Chargers are taking care of their business at their level with the only loss being to Dakota Valley. The Schedules changes soon with more road games but so far Lincoln and his group has handled their business. Lincoln had 26 over the weekend in a win over JVC.
Koln Oppold of Sioux Falls Christian. Looking for a “Mr, Basketball” worthy moment? How about that game winning three over O’Gorman that Oppold hit! That’s the play that people will remember. Koln had 15 in the win over O’Gorman and then 13 in the crushing of Unity Christian.
Gus Reede of Aberdeen Roncalli. Undefeated and for the most art unchallenged the Cavs are 6-0 at the moment after beating STM and Redfield/Doland. Reede continues to hit shots but equally impressive is how he has helped the players around him improve as leads the team.