Posted On: 03/14/18 10:00 AM
It is time! This is honestly one of the best weekends during the basketball season. Over the next couple days, eight teams will battle it out to see who is No. 1 in the state in Class A. Will it be Tea Area repeating? Will Sioux Falls Christian cap off their undefeated season with a State Championship? Or will an underdog take the state by storm and shock everyone?
The quest begins Thursday at 12 p.m. MT, with No. 1 Sioux Falls Christian vs. No. 8 Red Cloud and ends Saturday night at 8 p.m. MT when a State Champion will be crowned. But before it starts we run you through some facts about the eight teams.
No. 1 seed: Sioux Falls Christian (22-0)
The state’s only undefeated team in all classes in boys, the Chargers plan on finishing the season that way also. They are averaging about 78 points per game (tied for first among teams at state) and are only giving up about 52 points. They are as balanced of a team as you will find in South Dakota, the Chargers starting five all average 11 points or more. To go along with that they shoot about 50 percent and 58 percent as a team. Their leading scorer is senior forward Koln Oppold who averages 12.7 points, five assists, and 6 rebounds a game. Not too far behind is junior center Mitchell Goodbary who averages about 12.6 a game and seven rebounds.
Why they can win it all: They are so balanced on offense and are quick on the defensive side of the ball. They shoot 58 percent as a team and on average out-rebound, their opponent’s by 8. If one of their players is having an off night, another one might have a 30-point game.
Final Thoughts: In a stacked state tournament with four teams from the Dak XII Conference, the Chargers are the favorites, but possibly have a semi-final matchup against defending state champs Tea Area. The Titans were the closest Class A team to beat the Chargers earlier in the season and scored a season-low 60 points. It will be a good semi-final and even better championship game against whoever comes from the bottom-half of the bracket.
No. 2 seed: Madison Bulldogs (21-1)
The Bulldogs only loss came to Sioux Falls Christian at home back in January and then the next game snuck away with a two-point win in overtime against Chamberlain. They are probably the favorite to meet Sioux Falls Christian in the championship. They average about 68 points and are only giving up 54 points a game. Three of their starters average 13 points or more and average 6 rebounds or more a game. The Janke brothers combine to average 27.5 points per game on 49 (Jaxon) and 44 percent (Jadon). South Dakota State commit, Aaron Fiegen leads the team with 18.4 points a game along with 6.6 rebounds a game.
Why they can win it all: They have four seniors in their starting lineup, with three Divison I athletes on the roster they have experience and talent. They share the ball well at 18 assists a game and they rebound well with 36 rebounds a game. They have more than one guy on the roster who can easily get hot and score 20 points.
Final Thoughts: The Bulldogs have to play a Pine Ridge squad who upset Dell Rapids in the Round of 16 and if they get passed them they have to play either Sioux Valley or Dakota Valley both teams are extremely tough to beat. The Bulldogs could have a shot at revenge against Tea Area from last year if both teams make it back to the championship round.
No. 3 seed: Sioux Valley (20-2)
The Cossacks had a thrilling regional championship game against Flandreau and then had no trouble putting Hot Springs away 79-57 in the Round of 16. They lost to SF Christian in February at the Pentagon in a game in which they led for most of the game until a strong second half propelled the Chargers to the victory. They are tied with Sioux Falls Christian for most points a game amongst the eight tournament teams at 78 points. They give up about 52 points, but in their two losses, both times the opponent scored 70 or more points. The Cossacks are led by senior center Trevor Hanson who averages about 22 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore guard Max Nielson was the hero in the Flandreau game averages about 9 points and 8 assists. The other three starters average 10 or more points and rebound very well also.
Why they can win it all: They have 6’7 Hanson down low who averages 11 rebounds a game, but he’s not the only guy that rebounds well. Four of the five starters average 4 rebounds or more a game and as a team pulls down 39 boards a game. They will have a tough 3 games to claim the state title but have the talent to do it.
Final Thoughts: The Cossacks will have probably the toughest path to the state championship, but if they win all three games then it’ll be well worth it.
No. 4 seed Crow Creek (20-3)
The Chieftains have had a pretty successful season, but they have only played one team in the state tournament when they beat Pine Ridge 79-77. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare against the defending state champs, Tea Area. They are led by senior Joe Sazue III who nets about 24 points a game on 44 percent shooting. Senior Josiah Blue Arm averages a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds a game and shoots 68 percent from the field. As a team, they shoot 57 percent and 34 percent from deep.
Why they can win it all: They have been averaging over 70 points a game, so if they get on a hot streak it will be difficult to stop them. They average about 35 rebounds and about 32 percent of that is offensive rebounds. They are quick on defense averaging about 9 steals a game. They will have quick hands and could get a lot of transition layups.
Final Thoughts: The Chieftains received a difficult draw, as they have to play the defending champs the first round and if they get passed them they have to potentially face the No. 1 team in Class A. They scored over 60 points everytime in the regular season, but only scored 53 in the Round of 16 win against Parker. It’ll be interesting to see how many points they average in Rapid City.
No. 5 seed Tea Area
The defending champs have the No. 1 2019 prospect in SD in Noah Freidel. He has been battling a knee injury he suffered during the Madison game earlier in the season. But that hasn’t stopped him from averaging about 25 points per game. The Titans average about 69 points per game on 45 percent shooting and are 33 percent from deep. There isn’t usually anyone out on the floor that can’t get hot for the Titans.
Why they can win it all: The Titans are shooting 45 percent from the field and 33 percent from deep, they can shoot the leather out of the ball most games. When Friedel went out with an injury, senior Chris Morales averaged about 19 points over the span of three or four games in his absence. All five starters have the potential to score in big numbers.
Final Thoughts: The common theme seems to be that no team has a particularly easy path to the title this year. Same goes for Tea they have to play a tough Crow Creek team and then potentially play the No. 1 team in Class A. It’ll be interesting to see how Friedel’s knee feels throughout the tournament.
No. 6 seed Dakota Valley
The Panthers had a quiet season this year going 17-6. They get back to the State Tournament after upsetting the No. 1 seed Sioux Valley last year in the Round of 16. They average about 66 points a game, with four players who average double digits in scoring. They are led by senior Jack McCabe who averages about 13.0 points a game. Freshman phenom Paul Bruns has made 39 three-pointers this season for 43 percent, he also averages about 11 points a game.
Why they can win it all: They are sneaky good this year. With McCabe and Bruns leading the way, the Panthers are hard to stop from deep. They average about 32 rebounds a game which feeds into second-chance points. They are tough on defense, they average about 7 steals a game, but 29 deflections and 19 charges on the season. They play good help defense and sacrifices their bodies.
Final Thought: The Cossacks get a rematch of last year’s Round of 16 game last year. The Panther’s look to achieve the same result as last year and upset Sioux Valley. With every team as they have a tough path to the finals.
No. 7 seed Pine Ridge
Pine Ridge had a huge upset over Dell Rapids in the Round of 16 but needed a huge second half to do so. The Thorpes needed a 20-10 third quarter to take the lead after trailing by as many as 15 in the first half. Their starting five all average nine points or more. Their leading scorer is junior Corey Brown who averages a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds a game. The Thorpes start four juniors and one senior, and their top-three scorers are in that junior class.
Why they can win it all: They have the momentum going into state with the big upset of Dell Rapids. They also shoot 75 percent from the field, so they are very efficient with the shots they take.
Final Thoughts: The Thorpes don’t have much scoring coming off the bench as the highest scorer is sophomore Shelby Steele-Tymes with 2.6 points. They could pose a challenge to Madison if they start the game the way they started the second half against Dell Rapids.
No. 8 seed Red Cloud
The Crusaders have probably the most shocking upset in the Round of 16. They took it to No. 4 seed Miller 79-55. They were all over Miller with a full-court press, and they couldn’t figure out a way to break the press which led to a lot of transition lay-ups for Red Cloud. That matches their season average of 74 points a game. They are led by guard Alejandro Rama with 22 points a game on 49 percent shooting. Russell Leader Charge is second on the team in scoring with 16 points on 61 percent shooting.
Why they can win it all: There’s little chance that Red Cloud will run the table and win the state title, but anything is possible in March. If they are that effective with the defensive pressure as they were against Miller they could easily make it to the championship game. They get about 9 steals a game.
Final Thoughts: I was very surprised by the score of the Miller game, but when I watched some of the second-half it was clear that they were the better team in that game. Will the defensive pressure be that effective against a Sioux Falls Christian or potentially Tea Area?