2018-19 South Dakota High School Boys Basketball Preview

The state tournaments last year proved that you need to be at your best entering March.

Yankton came into the SoDak 16 as an 11th seed and went on to win it all. In Class A, Tea Area and Madison met in the championship game for the second year in a row – and this time, Madison walked off the court as the state champ. And in class B, it was Bridgewater-Emery who spent much of the year as the favorite, but Sully Buttes ended up beating Clark/Willow Lake in the finals.

This season, the first media poll just came out. I’ll help you break down the ranked teams with a season outlook, as well as the other teams that received votes and some other teams of note.

Boys AA

1. Yankton

Last Year: 17-7 (State Champs)

Returning Starters: 2

Head Coach: Chris Haynes


The Bucks were merely a 3-17 team in 2017 and were a 13-7 team entering their round of 16 game with Aberdeen on the road. They barely beat the Golden Eagles by three points to make it to state. There, they went on a magical three-game run where they took their first title in 40 years.

Head coach Chris Haynes is excited for this year’s beginning. “We are excited to get started with another basketball season,” he said. “We hope we can come together as a team and improve throughout the season.”

They’ll have the most decorated sophomore in the state leading the way. Matthew Mors (6’8”, So.) is now a seasoned veteran and will see the most aggressive defenders in the state all season long. Mors has multiple D-1 offers already and will continue to assault record books in his fourth varsity season at Yankton, but he can’t do it alone.

Rex Ryken (6’ 2”, Sr.) returns to the starting lineup as well, with Owen Feser (5’10”, Sr.), Cooper Cornemann (6’1”, Jr.), Miles Carda (5’9”, Sr.) and Cole Sawatzke (5’11”, Sr.) coming back with championship experience. The Bucks hope to add some size to the front court with Kieren Luellman (6’2”, Sr.), Hunter Kotrous (6’9”, Jr.) and Reggie Bruder (6’5”, Jr.).

Important Numbers:

In his freshman season, Mors scored 45% of the team points and accumulated 95% of the team blocks! (24.4 PPG, 39% 3FG, 1.8 APG, 6.2 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.0 BPG)


2. Sioux Falls O’Gorman

Last Year: 14-11 (6th place at State)

Returning Starters: 2

Head Coach: Derek Robey


The nucleus of this roster is talented.

“We are really excited about this year’s group,” said Coach Robey. “We’ve got a lot of young guys and a lot of veterans. I really like being around these guys. They are hard workers, and we’ve seen an increase in athletic ability this year.”

There isn’t one go-to guy for the Knights, though they’ll look to Zach Norton and Akoi Akoi as returning starters. Senior Luke Ronsiek and Cole Bruhn will likely move into the starting rotation as well. Brandon Fischer, Brady Beck, Canyon Bauer, Jack Cartwright, Cole Hardie, Reece Arbogast are all getting ready to make an impact.

Important Numbers:

Their leading returning scorer is Zach Norton (6.7 PPG), and their leading returning rebounder and assister is Akoi Akoi (5.5 RPG, 1.9 APG).


3. Brandon Valley

Last Year: 14-7 (Lost to Douglas in 2OT in round of 16)

Returning Starters: 3

Head Coach: Brent Deckert


The seniors for this Brandon Valley team are as deep and talented as any senior class in the state.

“Every year it begins and ends with our seniors,” said head coach Brent Deckert. “When they compete we are always a tougher team. We have a ton of experience returning.”

They start with Evan Talcott (6’3”, Sr.), who scored 17.2 PPG and averaged 8.8 boards per game as a junior while hitting 41% from three. Their third leading scorer, Carter Olthoff (6’3”, Sr.), is also back, as is their primary ball handler, Nate Keegan (5’10”, Sr.). The rest of the senior class is loaded with Ethan Rasmussen, Caden Johnson, Alex Tietjen, Cole Siegfried and Eli Peyton.

But there are some newcomers who could elevate this team to greatness, starting with Gavin Terhark (6’7”, Jr.) in the post. He didn’t play last year but has already received scholarship offers for his potential down low. Juniors Jaxon LaBrie, Cole Syliaasen and Thomas Scholten will all see time in the rotation, with a ton of production in the sophomore class just waiting to get their turn with Jackson Hilton, Aydin Lloyd, Joe Kolbeck, Jaksen Deckert and Payton Tietjen.

Important Numbers:

Brandon Valley brings back 72% of their scoring this season.


4. Rapid City Stevens

Last Year: 22-4 (3rd place at State)

Returning Starters: 1

Head Coach: Chris Stoebner


There is only one returning starter – but don’t let that fool you. Stevens has some depth and talent.

They’ll look to Dawson Paulsen as that lone returning starter for a scoring punch. Paulsen is a 6’3” backcourt game-breaker. He’ll have Dylan Pourier, a transfer from Douglas, join him to supply an offensive threat.

“I think offensively we’re going to be pretty good by the end of the year,” said Coach Steobner, “because we can put five guys on the court who can shoot the basketball. The key is: can we defend and can we rebound?”

I think Coach Stoebner will get his crew to be able to do just that and should have a contender by the time playoffs roll around.

Important Numbers:

Stevens split in the regular season against Central but beat the Cobblers in the third place game at the state tournament to win the season series with their rival. 


5. Sioux Falls Lincoln

Last Year: 15-10

Returning Starters: 1

Head Coach: Jeffrey Halseth


The Pats usually peak in March. Last season, a disappointing opening round loss to Yankton sent their title hopes home.

This year, they bring back just one starter, but they have a lot of talent. Jared Jaros leads the way for the Pats. He is a dynamic outside shooter who can score multiple ways. Head Coach Jeffrey Halseth likes what he’s seen from Jared.

“He brings the leadership,” Coach Halseth said. “He likes the ball in his hands, but there are times that teams are going to know he wants the ball, and he’ll be able to find the open guy. That’s what Jared is becoming very good at.”

Nolan Ransom, Max Burchill, Nate Brecht, Tyler Hiatt are just a few of the guys expected to make a big impact. Look for 8 to 9 players to get regular rotation minutes

Important Numbers:

Jared Jaros made more threes than anyone at the state tournament last year (12).



Sioux Falls Washington

Last Year: 13-10

Returning Starters: 0

Head Coach: Craig Nelson


The Warriors will look to senior guards Carter Shields and Gabe Person to do their offensive damage.

“Carter is a really gifted offensive player. He can do a little of everything on the court,” Coach Nelson said. “Gabe's best attribute is his athleticism. He has very quick bounce and is extremely explosive.”

The teams post play isn’t as experienced, but they’ll look to Ganin Thompson (6’6” Jr.) and Kyle Rygg (6’0”, Jr.) to step up on the inside.


Last Year: 7-14

Head Coach: John Schouten


Jett McGirr, Blake Cruse, Colton Pell, Tanner Evers and Mason Rozell bring some senior leadership to the Tigers, but they’ll look to their junior wing Kobe Busch for their leadership. Busch is a 6’5” offensive force who can also D-up several different positions. He averaged 19.3 PPG with 6.7 RPG as a sophomore last season, and the second-team all-state player is primed for a big junior season.

John Schouten has been an assistant coach with the boys team for the last five seasons. This year, he takes over as the head coach.


Last Year: Second at state (18-6)

Returning Starters: 2

Head Coach: Scott Langerock


“We’re really excited about the group we have this year. We’ve got a mix of experience, youth, athleticism and length,” said Coach Langerock. “Nick Hoyt and Blair Slaughter give our guys that calming presence on the court.”

Sioux Falls Roosevelt

Last Year: 9-11

Returning Starters: 2

Head Coach: Mitch Begeman


“This team has a bright outlook. They are quick and unselfish,” Coach Begeman said. “We had a great offseason, improving our weaknesses and getting quicker, faster, stronger. We have a lot of playmakers and guys that can flat out shoot the ball. We feel like we are skilled at every position and can contend with anyone in the state.”

Tucker West (6’6”, Sr.) – who shot better than 50% from the field last year – and Adam Kusler (6’2”, Jr) are the only two returning starters, but there is a lot to be hopeful for coming up. Aiden Evans (6’7”, Sr.) moved to Sioux Falls and should make an impact in the post along with junior Brady Dannenbring (6’5”, Jr.). Carson Devericks (6’3”, Sr.), Tyler Feldkamp (6’0” Sr.), Patrick Niyonshuti (5’10”, Sr.) and Tucker Large (5’10”, So.) will be stepping into larger roles this year.

Aberdeen Central

Last Year: 13-11

Returning Starters: 1

Head Coach: Brent Norberg


Five seniors return for the Golden Eagles, including guard Jordan Schnaidt, who is one of the few returning players who logged significant minutes last season. And they have a special junior, 6’7” forward Andrew Bergan, who is ready to take this team to the next level. 


Last Year: 1-19

Returning Starters: 1

Head Coach: Todd Neuendorf


“We look to continue to grow as a basketball team, “Coach Neuendorf said. “We will be more of an up-tempo-style team this season. We will have some size with our front line and be able to establish an inside game as well.”

They’ll feature Kiel Nelson, who averaged 9.4 PPG and 4.8 RPG last year. Look for seniors Kaden Soukup and Derek Factor, juniors Carter Jacobson and Junter Stahle, sophomores Ryley Johansen and Ben Helleloid, and freshman Caden Hinker to fill out the rotation.


Last Year: 4-16

Returning Starters: 2

Head Coach: Travis Engebretson


The Bobcats have two very good returning starters: Drew Cole and Trevor Woodall.


Last Year: 9-12

Returning Starters: 2

Head Coach: Zach Wevik


This season will be an adjustment for the Arrows, as Coach Zach Wevik takes over for long-time coach Brian Norberg.

“There will be an adjustment period, but we have a great group of seniors that will lead us through, and buy in will happen early,” Wevik said. “We return some key guys that saw a lot of valuable minutes last season. We also return Adam DeJong, who missed last season with a knee injury, and are excited to see him on the court again. We won't be terribly big, but we should put together a fairly athletic group on the floor at all times.”

The Arrows will look to Soloman Bach and Adam DeJong for a lot of their shooting, and they have Blake Holden, Brandon Florey, Parker Schmidt and Pierre Lear ready to bring senior leadership to the court.


Boys A

1. Tea Area

Last Year: 19-6 State runner-up                   

Returning Starters: 4

Head Coach: Chris Fechner 


“Our expectations are very high. We have an experienced team returning, with some very skilled guys ready to step in and take on bigger roles,” said Coach Fechner. “We need to focus on the defensive end of the floor and rebound the ball well. Our schedule is very tough, and we need to look to play some of our best basketball early in the season, so that experience will get tested right away. Our bench guys need to be ready to compete when called upon to give us some quality minutes.”

Noah Freidel is back after posting 25 PPG and earning first team all-state. Freidel is committed to Wright State, and is one of two players heading to division one programs. Point guard Justin Hohn is committed to UC-Irvine. Hohn averaged 10 PPG, 6 APG and 3 SPG last year. Kade Stearns and Kaleb Joffer also add to the team’s strong senior class.

Important Numbers:

The Tea returning senior starters bring back 51 points per game of scoring.


2. Sioux Falls Christian

Last Year: 24-1                     

Returning Starters: 2

Head Coach: Mike Schouten


“We hope to compete for conference and state titles this season,” said Schouten. “We lose three starters from last year's team, who accounted for about 48% of our scoring. We will need some guys who played on our JV last year to step up and give us some depth this season.”

Luckily the two players they have back can supply a lot of punch. Mitchell Goodbary and Gavin Schipper are both double-digit scorers. Mitchell Oostra, Parker Nelson, Dawson Mulder and Zach Witte give the Chargers the athleticism they’ll need to compete with anyone.


3. Pine Ridge

Last Year: 17-8         

Returning Starters: 5

Head Coach: Corey Shangreaux


All five starters – as well as extra fuel off the bench – return to the lineup for the Thorpes. Corey Brown leads the way after pouring in 16.8 PPG and 14.3 RPG last season. Halin Bad Bear and Corey Blacksmith will also be senior leaders for Pine Ridge. Look for an up-tempo offense that continues to get better from this team.


4. Red Cloud

Last Year: 21-5         

Returning Starters: 3

Head Coach: Christian McGhee


Red Cloud faded at the end of last season, but they have some solid players back – including Ale Rama, one of the best in the state.

“We have had a ton of improvement from our young kids,” said Coach McGhee. “We have six seniors who will step up and lead the team. We have some new kids coming in who are going to be key parts.”

Rama takes his 24 PPG average along with Riyen Carlow and Beau Donovan to start again this year.

Important Numbers:

There are six seniors on the team. Red Cloud hopes that experience and depth will get them back to the state tournament this year.


5. St. Thomas More

Last Year: 12-11       

Returning Starters: 2

Head Coach: Dave Hollenbeck


“We do have a lot of experience coming back. Hopefully that will pay dividends for us at the end of the year,” said Hollenbeck.

Two juniors are among the leaders for this Cavalier team. Ryder Kirsch will establish himself as one of the premier players in the state this year, and Caden Casey is back to start in the backcourt for another year. Senior center Mike Eastmo gives the Cavaliers a big body inside. “I’m excited for this group. I think if we can stay healthy I hope to get to the state tournament,” said Hollenbeck.



Sioux Valley

The Cossacks keep churning out great talent. This year they have 10 returning letter winners, including two starters, Max Nielson and Ryan Schuster.

“We have many players that have been contributing at the Varsity level since a young age,” Head Coach Bill Vincent said. “We will be able to put an athletic team on the floor. We should have solid depth.”


The Parker Pheasants have some firepower back after going 17-6 a year ago. Trey Christensen and Camden Bialas combined for 28 points per game last year, and they’ll be back to lead the offense. Alex Kasten, Je Joffer, Jackson Fiegen, Jaron Pesicka, Reece Peters, Blake Olson, Dallas Popkes and Sam Gillespie all return as part of a senior-stocked team.


This year, Madison has a lot to replace – including head coach Mike Ricke, who is now the athletic director in the school district.

Jeff Larsen is taking over as the head coach, and he’ll have a lot of new faces to work with. “We are very excited for the upcoming season,” he said. “The boys love to compete and play for each other.”

Just one starter from last season’s 24-1 season is back – Nic Comes – but look for Tyler Tappe, Caileb Reilly and Doyle Brown to all continue to contribute.

Dell Rapids

Head Coach Jason Fersdahl keeps on winning at Dell Rapids. This season he has just two starters back from a 17-5 team a year ago.

“Early in the season, we will really strive to develop team chemistry and look to improve every day in practice,” Fersdahl said.

Logan Heim is a big body in the middle for the Quarriers. He averaged 8.5 RPG last year, with 25 blocks. Drew VanRegenmorter and Logan Ellingson should supply some offensive firepower this year. Since Dell Rapids graduated almost 80% of their scoring from last year, they’ll need to find some up-and-coming talent to fill up the stat sheet.


Although just 7-14 a year ago, this team has the makings to compete deep into the playoffs. The reason is they have one of the best players in the state in junior Kayden Verley, who averaged 26 PPG as a sophomore. They also have a lot of strong players in the junior class who are ready to take that step into varsity competition.

“We are young, only three seniors. Our junior team has a lot of talent but not a lot of varsity experience.  We have a lot of work to do,” said Coach Paul Anderson.

All five of their top scorers return, including four starters. Their three double-digit scorers back are junior guard Josh Arlt (13.6 PPG, 2.2 APG), senior forward Brock Anderson (12.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG), and senior guard Quincy Ihnen (10.4 PPG, 2.1 APG).


Miller brings back just one starter from their 18-4 team last year, but a lot of young talented players could keep them at a high level. Karst Hunter averaged 21 PPG and 10 RPG last year.

Coach Darin Hunter likes the supporting cast this year, “Tyler Schoemacher has spent a lot of time on his game, and we look for great things from him,” Coach Hunter said. “He will be an added dimension to offset the attention that Karst Hunter will draw. Eli Jones, Garrett Knox and Joey Simpson are a great nucleus of seniors that are flat out tough kids that want to compete and will accept any role to make us better.”


Head Coach Paul McVey hopes to rebound from last season’s sub-.500 year. “We are one of the most experienced teams in the state,” he said. “We have a deep and talented senior class, and some very high level players in our junior class. We learned a lot from last season and will focus on defense and togetherness to get us over the top. We love our chances this year to make some noise in the top conference and region in the state.”


Boys B

1. Bridgewater-Emery

Last Year: 22-4

Returning Starters: 3

Head Coach: Scott Schultz


“We will need to solidify our starting lineup and work on improving the depth off the bench,” said Coach Schultz. “We are hoping by tournament time we can be ready to compete with the top teams in our region and across the state.”

This team will rely on Sawyer Schultz, who earned the MidcoSN Class B player of the year last season to lead the way again. He went for 23.5 PPG, 8 RPG, 5 APG and 3 SPG last year. He’ll be playing at DWU next season but is ready to top off an impressive high school career this season. Jamin Arend and Carter Dye also return to the starting lineup – each averaged 14 PPG.

This year, the juniors and sophomores will need to step up to get B-E back to the top. Chase Arend, Jonah Hofer, Colby Weber, Grant Andrews, Rylee Schultz and Bodie Burnham will take up that challenge.


2. Clark-Willow Lake

Last Year: 20-6

Starters Returning: 3

Head Coach: Jerome Nesheim


Coach Nesheim got his team all the way to the title game last year and has similar hopes this year.

“We return a great nucleus of players from last season’s State B Runner Up,” he said. “We have a nice combination of guards and posts, so we aren't one dimensional. I think we are very solid defensively, being led by Florey. We will need to play well every night with a sense of urgency and with perfect effort. We will need to be more consistent in our perimeter shooting. We will be more dominate in the paint with Micah Burke and Stone Burke inside. It all comes down to playing your best ball at the end of the year.”

Jacob Prouty and Grayson Florey are dangerous in the backcourt. Prouty is explosive on offense while Florey makes his name on defense. They also have three-year starter Micah Burke in the post. “He has the ability to take over games on the inside,” said Coach Nesheim.


3. White River

Last Year: 23-4 (4th at State)           

Starters Returning: 4

Head Coach: Eldon Marshall


Last season, the Tigers came alive and made a serious push at the end of the year. They made that push with a lot of young talent that is back in the mix this year.

Jadice Morrison is one of the better scorers in the state, with Teron Sazue, Nick Sayler and Tyson Iyotte all able to put the ball in the hoop too. Last year’s top four scorers in the state tournament are all back this year. Watch out as the Tigers make another run at a state title.


4.  Sully Buttes

Last Year: 25-1

Starters Returning: 2

Head Coach: Brian White


The Chargers took the title last year behind a mixed group of youngsters and seniors.

“We are looking to compete to the best of our ability as a team,” said White. “We lost three really good players from last year’s team, which will make us a different team this year. But we feel we can be very competitive, and I think you will see our best basketball at the end of the year as we will be working with a lot of new guys this season.”

Nick Wittler is a junior and two-year starter; and we believe he will be one of the top guards in the state. Cameron Ogle is a senior who started last year for the first time. Expect big things on the court this season from junior post Jett Lamb. 


5. Timber Lake

Last Year: 21-4

Starters Returning: 5

Head Coach: Cody Lawrence


The Panthers made some noise last year, finishing fifth at the state tournament. They welcome back their entire starting lineup this season under Coach Lawrence.

“The team is looking to hopefully duplicate the run they had last year,” he said. “The schedule has been strengthened by having a few more games against Class A schools, which will help at the end of the season.”

Brayden PayPay, Tucker Kraft and Isaac Kraft all return after being named to the all-Little Moreau Conference first team last year. Trey Bollinger and Jackson Harrison are also back in the mix.



De Smet

Head Coach Jeff Gruenhagen led this team to 12 wins last year, and they have a young team again this year with just three seniors. One of those seniors, Trevin Holland, is ready to make some noise in this class. He missed part of the season last year due to injury, but when he returned, he helped get the Bulldogs within a game of the state tournament.

This season, look for Holland to get the Bulldogs off to a better start.


Colome has high hopes this season. Head Coach Drew Weber has the talent in place to make a run to state.

“We return an experienced core group that have won 51 games in their HS careers,” Weber said. “Depth will be an issue early on like for most schools, but we will hope to see major growth from our young guys as they gain more experience. We feel like we are ready to make a run at our school's first ever state tournament appearance, but will need to stay healthy and catch some breaks along the way.”

The team has Jackson Kinzer, Layton Thieman, Wyatt Cahoy, Calvin Ringing Shield, Chase Dufek and (returning from injury) Beau Bertram all back in the fold. Last year, the Cowboys had just four players do 92% of their scoring, and three of those four players are back along with Bertram, who was out last year.

Aberdeen Christian

The Knights have a young squad led by David Rohrbach, but they’re ready to tangle in the upper echelon of Class B. Last season, they went 13-8 with their top four scorers all underclassmen.

Jackson Becker and Andrew Rohrbach give the Knights one of the best one-two punches around. Nehemiah Becker brings back the most rebounds from last year and 8th grader Jackson Isakson is ready to emerge as a big-time talent in his second year on the varsity squad.

Kimball/White Lake

The KWL WildKats bring back some important players from their 15-7 team a year ago. Head Coach Kamden Miller hopes the momentum from fall sports continues into the winter. Carter Fredericksen, Brock Nolz, Javen Holan and Kordel Kiehn bring senior leadership back to the court.

Dell Rapids St. Mary

Coach Pete Schmidt continues to see gains from the Cardinals. They’ll bring back almost everyone to improve on their 11-win season a year ago.

“I really like the hustle and attitude of this team,” said Schmidt. “We will be fun team to watch, as they will push the ball and press in the full court.”

Sophomore Connor Libis is one of four key returning players who are ready to bring the Cardinals back to relevance. He averaged 22.2 PPG as a freshman and should keep his sharpshooting ways going this year. Max Herber, Weston Geraets, and Connar Kangas all have significant experience despite being underclassmen last year.

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