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Posted On: 06/8/18 1:13 PM
**Photo courtesy of South Dakota Public Broadcasting**
Over the next few weeks, PHD will recap the Class AA boys basketball state tournament qualifiers and preview their upcoming season. Yankton defeated Harrisburg 39-37 to claim the AA title.
Rapid City Stevens came into the season with high expectations and almost went the distance before getting upended by the eventual runner-up in Harrisburg.
The Raiders boasted a highly experienced team with nine seniors on the team and four in the starting lineup.
Senior Wil Moore played far and above what was expected of him during the season which along with the only returning starter for next year, junior Dawson Paulsen, helped Rapid City Stevens in the top spot going into the Round of 16 and State Tournament.
After dropping their season opener to SF O’Gorman the Raiders went on a 10-game win streak that ended when SF Roosevelt upset them by two points. The Raiders went on another win streak before losing a tight one to cross-town rival and a top-five matchup between them and RC Central.
They entered the Round of 16 as the No. 1 seed and did quick work of No. 16 Pierre T.F. Riggs 60-45. They then faced SF O’Gorman in the first round of State in which they split the season series. This time RC Stevens jumped out to an early 22-9 lead after the first quarter and ultimately would win 53-40 on 14 points and 8 boards from Cooper Bowman.
In their first meeting of the season, the Raiders faced Harrisburg with a spot in the championship on the line. RC Stevens had a great first half jumping out to a 33-21 lead at halftime, but then in the second half Harrisburg took fire outscoring the Raiders 39-19 and took the victory 60-52.
The Raiders then faced RC Central in the 3rd/4th place game with both teams splitting the two matchups during the season. This game was very close in the first half with RC Stevens up two at the break 29-27. The Raiders would then pull away with the victory 59-49 in the second half on Connor King’s 20 points.
1. With nine seniors on the team and four starters graduating this season, the Raiders have a lot of questions going into next season.
2. As the only returning starter junior Paulsen will most likely be the go-to-guy after being the second leading scorer last season with 11 points a game.
3. They aren’t the only ones losing a good chunk of their team from last year. They will have to work hard to get back to the state tournament.
MAN ON THE SPOT
Paulsen is the only returning starter from last years third place finish. He will definitely have to step up and be more of a scorer this next season. Paulsen was the second-leading scorer this past season at 11 points per game.
He has been playing with the SD Venom out of Tea this summer and in a recent interview with PHD he said, “We all want to become better basketball players and want to see the SD Venom become one of the top AAU programs in this region.”
He also talked about how he is working on to improve his all-around game by getting to the basket and finishing and making his three-point shot more consistent.
RETURNERS BY CLASS
SENIORS – Four
JUNIORS – Six
It seems like a good chunk of teams have lost a good amount of seniors from last years run, so it won’t be as huge of a deal if the Raiders were the only ones. The fact they have one returning starter and one returning bench player that averaged 1.3 points a game is not a good sign for next year. It could be a good season for the Raiders next season or their lack of experience could lead them to miss the state tournament. Paulsen is a good player but will he be able to put the team on his back if he doesn’t get as much help as he needs?