PHD Playoff Central: AA Top 5 Performers, SD Playoff Run Through

High School

Posted On: 03/5/18 11:22 AM

As Fabulous Friday turns into Super Tuesday in the magical world that is March Madness in South Dakota, we bridge the gap with PHD Playoff Central offering our thoughts about the recent results.  Top 5 Class AA performers from Friday, biggest upset, the clutch shot maker, etc.  We run through it in PHD Playoff Central.

PHD Playoff Central.  AA State.  The top five teams all made the state tournament as expected: RC Stevens, RC Central, SF Lincoln, Harrisburg, and SF Washington.  The “upsets” were Yankton over Central, and Douglas over Brandon Valley in score games.  Contests that were not that big of upsets in the grand scheme of things.  The match-ups for next week are set with Stevens vs O’Gorman, Harrisburg vs Washington, Lincoln vs Yankton, and Central vs Douglas.

Top Five AA Playoff Performers:

  1. Yankton is going to state for the first time in four years and it’s on the strength of a Matthew Mors pass to Cameron Krejci for a three-pointer at the buzzer (his third three of the game, scored nine points) that beat Central 47-44. Mors shot 8 of 14 for 19 points and had four assists including the game winning pass.
  2. Cooper Bowman of RC Stevens, a 6-foot-0 senior guard that scored 25 points plus denied Peyton Zabel the ball all night holding him to 15 points.
  3. Jaron Zwagerman of SF O’Gorman.  The forward had 20 points and eight boards in O’Gorman’s home double overtime win over Sturgis.
  4. What makes a five hour drive each way tolerable?  A playoff victory! Dan Hand‘s 22 in side for Douglas in their over time win over Brandon Valley is something he smiled about all the way home.
  5. RC Central crushed Spearfish by 59 and everyone go into the scoring act to a degree but 6-2 senior Cameron Hall scoring 20 on six threes was the headliner.

Top Duo: The Harrisburg pair of Ace Zorr and Nick Hoyt gave the Tigers the right inside-out formula of 18 from Hoyt on five threes and 19 from Zorr who missed a double-double by s single board.

Mr. Big Shot.  Dakota Valley guard Jack Graves has worked his way into many of conversations this year as one of the state’s most improved players.  He made headlines with some big shots earlier in the season and of course that 32 point game that made headlines in a couple states.  Friday topped all of it when he attacked right and lifted about the defense to score a one hand game winner that brought a community to it’s feet in excitement.

Upset City. The Upset of Friday was De Smet knocking off Arlington meaning Arlington was the only one seed in the state to lose on Friday.  De Smet entered the playoffs 9-11 but head into the Sweet 16 at 11-11 after a pair of wins last week. The teams played back in December and Arlington won 61-53 but lately the Bulldogs have won six of eight evening their record and prepping to play number one seed Bridgewater-Emery.  PHD 100 senior guard Gage Gruenhagen lived at the foul line making 12 foul shots for De Smet and 6-foot-5 junior Trevin Holland had a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds including three three-pointers.  The Dogs are hot and may not be the normal 16 seed considering the talent Gage and Trevin have and how well their team is playing.

Not Much at the big school level.  Sure there were a couple lower seeds beating higher seeds in Class AA but the parity at that level makes it hard to call it an “upset”.  And in Class A there were no surprises at all.  Vermillion and Flandreau are out of the playoffs but they lost to higher seeds.

Tip of the Hat to the Career. Three of the state’s top frontcourt basketball prospects ended their careers a game short of state last Friday. Cole Bergan of Aberdeen Central is the state’s top uncommitted/unsigned prospect and he had 18 points and 16 rebounds leaving everything on the floor in the loss to Yankton.  Connor Crane of Sturgis is headed to Dakota Wesleyan and Peyton Zabel is going to play college football.  Both had excellent senior years but lost their final game.

As we detailed in the story after the Sioux Valley/Flandreau game, Dylan LeBrun‘s career came to a close last Friday but LeBrun walked off the floor with the respect of all that attended.  He had 26 points and ten rebounds in his final game and had a buzzer beating attempt rim out.  Dylan is of course a part of the incredible class that Augustana put together for the 2018-19 season.

The biggest hat tip to the career is to AJ Plitzuweit.  His team came up one point short against a deeper Dakota Valley team 61-60 in Friday.  The state will deeply miss having Plitzuweit and Vermillion in the Sweet 16 but he left a memorable impression this season.  AJ’s versatile game, his consistent of big number production, and his willingness to do everything on the court in a humble way will bring him the majority of the Player of the Year awards.  Regardless of the loss one game short of the Sweet 16.

State Tournament Will Miss Some Top Seniors.  Three of the top five prospects in the state (Bergan, Plitzuweit, and LeBrun) have had their seasons ended short of the state tournament.  Trevor Hanson and Sioux Valley need to get past Hot Springs so he can be at state and Aaron Fiegen and Madison must defeated Aberdeen Roncalli.  Right behind them is Diang Gatlauk who led Lincoln to state with 16 points beating Huron.  They now face Yankton at state.  Also, Mason Larson of Langford Area and Lincoln Jerde of top ranked Sulley Buttes are in the Class B Sweet 16.  Also, most of the top younger names in the state are still alive so their will be plenty of talent to see.  That said, the state will miss not having three of the best in the biggest stage of the season. But that’s how it goes in March!