SD High School Class A Boys Basketball Region Tournament Preview(2)

The South Dakota high school boys basketball Class A region tournaments start March 3. Here are some of the favorites to make it to Rapid City, as well as more information on all the contenders in the regions.

Region 1A

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Tiospa Zina

The Wambdi have been gearing up for this year for a long time. They have a senior-heavy group led by Caleb White, Payton Haleside and Jamison Pratt in the backcourt. Tiospa Zina doesn’t have a lot of size but they’ll run you off the court. Their only losses have come to White River by two, Marty by three and Dakota Valley by five. They could pose a big threat if they get to the state tourney.

Groton Area

The Wambdi have been gearing up for this year for a long time. They have a senior-heavy group led by Caleb White, Payton Haleside and Jamison Pratt in the backcourt. Tiospa Zina doesn’t have a lot of size but they’ll run you off the court. Their only losses have come to White River by two, Marty by three and Dakota Valley by five. They could pose a big threat if they get to the state tourney.

The Rest of the Contenders

Milbank snagged an important win against Groton last week. They have positive momentum heading into late February. Milbank is a good three-point shooting team and have the tools to get on a roll with senior Max McCulloch and sophomore Bennett Schwenn.

Under the Radar

Webster Area is a dangerous .500 team. Kaleb Marx leads the team in scoring and they’re coming off a win over fellow contender Redfield which should give them some confidence heading into regions.

Sisseton is sub-500 but still a threat in the playoffs. They are finally getting healthy and gave Groton a test in the last game of the season.

Notes of Interest
  • Groton is the most improved team in the region, they doubled their win total from last season. 
  • Roncalli upset Warner in their last game of the year which broke a 19-game losing streak for the Cavs.
  • The Tiospa Zina team name, “Wambdi” is the Sioux word for Eagle.

Region Roundup

This region playoff should be outstanding. Tiospa Zina and Groton are the favorites and my picks to advance but if Milbank starts hitting threes they could earn an upset in a rematch with Groton.


Region 2A

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Sioux Valley

The Cossacks have built a basketball tradition. They’re known as one of the best teams in Class A year in and year out. However they would like to play for a state title to move into the conversation with the elite teams in Class A. Head Coach Bill Vincent likes his talent, “We feel that Region 2A has many talented team all of which are capable of making a tournament run, we will need to be able to show improved rebounding and consistent defense to be able to advance.“ Four guys in the rotation average double digits. Max Nielson is the leader in scoring and more importantly assists. Kelton Vincent, Ryan Schuster and Oliver Vincent can all go off for big nights.


Florence/Henry jumped Clark/Willow Lake despite losing to them head to head on February 24th. They have some senior leadership but are overall undersized in the post. They rotate a lot of guards and try to beat you with quickness.

The Rest of the Contenders

Flandreau is one of the most dangerous 12-8 teams in the state. They’re led by sophomore sensation Tash Lunday (22.3 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 2.9 apg). They’re on a five-game win streak heading into regions and have played much better down the stretch.

Clark/Willow Lake tested themselves once again with a tough schedule. They feature Stone Burke a senior post who is skilled and works hard but haven’t gotten enough offense lately.

Hamlin has won five of their last six games heading in the regionals. They got their best player Nash Grantham back from injury to help spark the late season run.

Notes of Interest
  • It’s all in the family for Sioux Valley Coach Bill Vincent. His brother, Buster, is his assistant and his nephews Kelton and Oliver are two of his best players. His daughter Miakken starts on the girls team.
  • Max Nielson of Sioux Valley has started since 8th grade and ironically all 5 starters from his 8th grade state A tournament team became 1000 pt scorers. (Colin Kramer, T. Vincent, Olson, Hanson, Nielson)
  • Flandreau’s top three scorers are all sophomores.

Region Roundup

Sioux Valley might be on the cusp of having their best season in school history, they should be able to get to the SoDak 16 without much problem. I think Clark/Willow Lake will snag the other spot.


Region 3A

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Sioux Falls Christian

Sioux Falls Christian is a perennial state championship contender and this season is no different. They are a strong passing and shooting team that plays relentless defense. “In order to be our best we have to rebound the ball better and have less turnovers,” said head coach Mike Schouten. Two of the team’s top players are college athletes but neither are playing basketball. Zach Witte (17.6 ppg) is headed to USD to play football and Xavier Van Beek (11.8 ppg) is going to DWU to golf. Juniors Tyler Prins and Noah Van Donkersgoed have been very good, both averaging double digit scoring.

Dell Rapids

Dell Rapids is always a contender in March, this season they’re not an obvious choice to be a state title contender but they feel they can compete with anyone. Head Coach Jason Fersdahl talks about what makes them so tough, “We have found good offensive balance most nights, and we have four players averaging double figures in scoring and another with over 8 ppg. Our ball movement has improved throughout the season, and our higher shooting percentage is reflective on that. We have a lot of quickness on our team, and when we play with good spacing on offense, our guards can attack the rim effectively.  Defensively, we are at our best when we are aggressive with ball pressure and creating turnovers that lead to transition.” Colin Rentz (14.4 ppg) , Logan Ellingson (12.5) and Drew Van Regenmorter (13.7)all average double-digit scoring and they get plenty of offensive punch from the rest of the rotation.

The Rest of the Contenders

West Central could be a surprise. They have a lot of great athletes but sometimes go dry on offense. Their Head Coach Jacob Sittig likes when they get up and down, “We need to defend so we can get out in transition and see the ball go through the hole from deep!"

Tri-Valley and Baltic have some work to do if they want to crack an upset in the regions.

Notes of Interest
  • West Central has had seven different leading scorers this year
  • Sioux Falls Christian has two sets of brothers on the team, Zach and Jaden Witte and Carter and Brooks Nelson.

Region Roundup

The line is set between Sioux Falls Christian and Dell Rapids and the rest of region 3A. These two favorites are not only ready to take it to the SoDak 16 but they are legitimate state tournament contenders.


Region 4A

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In the last few seasons, Lennox knows what it’s like to miss the state tourney, get to the semis and lose and get to the finals and lose, they desperately want a shot to do the one thing they haven’t yet, win it all. They have the tools and showed it after a 19-1 season. Madysen Vlastuin is having another outstanding season with some big numbers (20.2ppg, 5.7reb, 2.1ast), but Rianna Fillipi (15.9ppg, 3.5reb, 4.9ast, 4.3spg) has done just as much to get the Orioles in state contention. Isabel Ihnen, Mara Hinker and Gracie Bowers have been outstanding in their roles as well. Head Coach Adam Quail has his sights set on a successful run, “For us to be successful we need to continue to play together with high intensity and effort. Good things happen when we value the basketball, rebound, and defend as a team.”

Dakota Valley

Paul Bruns has taken his game to another level. The junior averages nearly 30 a game and attacks the boards as well. He’s gotten a lot of help from Isaac Bruns, a freshman who’s moved up as the number two option offensively. Defensively Kam Wingert and Drew Addison lead the way, they’re the only two seniors and they get after it. “We need to be tough, both physically and mentally if we are going to have a chance to go deep into the postseason.” If Dakota Valley plays better on the defensive end, they could be one of the surprise teams of the Class A tournament.

The Rest of the Contenders

Tea Area is the defending champs in this class but after a roster overhaul and new head coach, they have had to build their own reputation. What you need to know about this team is they’re quick, versatile, balanced and able to beat many different types of teams. Cael Lundin leads the team in scoring at 15.5 ppg but they’ve had several players reach double digits this season. Drew Weber thinks his team is playing their best at the right time, “We have done a pretty good job to weather the ups and downs of the season, especially considering we have a new coach with new, inexperienced players. We have played one of the toughest schedules in the state and I feel like we are as prepared for the postseason as we possibly can be. We have really started to click on both sides of the court and are playing our best basketball of the season, but we understand that to win in the postseason, we will need to have discipline, mental toughness, and catch a few breaks here and there.”

Vermillion has five losses on the year but have been competitive in almost every game. The Tanagers have been tough all season. Jakob Dobney (13.5 ppg) and Dillon Gestring (16.4 ppg) lead the team in scoring. Coach Jay Drake has plowed through a competitive season, “Region 4 is arguably the strongest region in the state with some very good basketball teams.  Just like everyone we are hoping that we are playing our best basketball come March and it will take a great effort in every round to try and advance and that’s the way it should be this time of year.”

Canton also finished above .500 and has one of the most prolific scorers in the state in Kaden Verley, but it will be extremely difficult to crash the party in this loaded region.

Notes of Interest
  • All the seniors on Lennox’s team were All-State football players.
  • Vermillion has sustained a 15-5 season despite not having their leading returning scorer and all-conference player, Max Mayer, available. He suffered an ACL injury during the summer and is not at full strength.

Region Roundup

Region 4A has a ton of talent including 20-point scorers like Josh Arlt, Paul Bruns and Kayden Verley. But the teams are locked and loaded to make it to the next stage, they just want to win. I believe Lennox has what it takes, and the other spot is a total toss up. This region will be a blast.


Region 5A

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The Bulldogs went 15-5 and were very consistent all season long. Head Coach Jeff Larsen thinks if they focus, they’ll be even better, “We need to be focused at all times on the defensive end and play for each other. Our defense and rebounding will help propel our offense.”

Tyler Tappe (17.4 ppg), Cody Brown (14.9 ppg) and Keaton Nighbert (10.3 ppg) lead the offense with Carter Bergheim, Aspen Dahl and Connor Hively contributing to the 65.8 ppg for the team. This is a senior-led team that doesn’t rely on one way to score. Tappe can score in multiple ways with Brown cleaning up the boards. Madison beat Dakota Valley and Tea Area which makes their resume impressive.


Parker graduated ten seniors last year making this year’s team a challenge for Head Coach Lance Friesen. But they’ve managed a very successful season and Coach Friesen thinks they can be competitive, “When we rebound and keep our opponents out of the lane, we can be pretty good. If we rebound and take care of the ball, we will be a tough team in the post-season.” The Pheasants are a balanced team with one double-digit scorer in Kaden Pesicka and four more between 6-10 ppg.

The Rest of the Contenders

Parkston and McCook Central/Montrose are winning teams and have a shot to make some traction in this region. Parskston’s signature win was against Platte-Geddes a strong ‘B’ team. MCM beat Parkston in early February.

Notes of Interest
  • MVP’s Kolby Kayser hit a school record 11 3-pointers in win against Redfield earlier this year.
  • Parker junior, Cole Jurgens has put up good numbers in the post and the perimeter, he averages 2.5 blocks per game and hits over 40% from three.
  • Parkston has no juniors on their varsity roster.

Region Roundup

Madison has traditionally been a region power and they should be in position to advance again this year. The fight for the second spot in the SoDak 16 will be a dogfight. If there’s a Parker vs. Parkston rematch, we’re all in for a treat. They played a one-point game in the season finale.


Region 6A

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Crow Creek

The Chieftans suffered just two losses this year, one to White River and the other in OT to Winner. They’ve been winning with a raging offensive attack. They up 75 points per game with Luke Wells and Teron Sazue leading the way. Head Coach Darin Hunter likes the team versatility, “most dynamic team I have ever coached. All five starters can play all 5 positions, our bigs can rebound and dribble out and play the point if need be.”

They’ll try to keep that pace going and get to the state tournament where they’ll be able to match up with any type of team they face.


The Tigers are a fast team that shares the ball extremely well. They have seven players who average between 5-10 points per game. Head Coach Thomas Kundson believes they haven’t played their best yet, “Our players are pushing themselves and teammates to be great.  Level of focus and determination has risen since the end of the regular season.  We have more players staying after practice to fine tune shooting and ball handling.” Mobridge-Pollock played a tough schedule down the stretch to prepare themselves for a region run.

The Rest of the Contenders

Cheyenne-Eagle Butte started the season great with an impressive LNI performance, but they’ve struggled with inconsistencies since then. Junior forward Spencer Moran is an athletic scorer for the Braves. CEB has the talent to make an upset or two in the regions.

Chamberlain and McLaughlin both have some impressive wins on the year and could put a scare into each other, but it will be a tough draw when the winner faces Crow Creek.

Notes of Interest
  • Mobridge-Pollock has five sets of brothers, of those five, two sets are twins. 
  • All five starters for Crow Creek average double-digit scoring.
  • Despite Miller’s subpar season, freshman Spencer Fernholz has been a bright spot. He’s scoring 17 points per game.

Region Roundup

Crow Creek looks like a strong favorite to make it to the SoDak 16. Mobridge-Pollock also feels like a strong favorite, especially after their big win over CEB in the season finale.


Region 7A

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Red Cloud

Head Coach Christian McGhee always has a competitive team. “I feel like our team strengths are, we are very deep, and our guard play has been great for us. We are shooting the ball much better as the season goes along, and I have been happy with our defense.” Juniors Beau Donovan (15.7 ppg) and Jarron Big Horn (14.5) have been pleasant surprises this year for Red Cloud. Riyen Carlow gives them a steady senior presence as well.  While they’ve been strong lately, they will need a win against Class A contender to make their mark this season.


Winner is known as a football town, but basketball has started to heat up in February. They collected a couple of big wins at the end of the season including victories over Mobridge-Pollock and Crow Creek. Head Coach Brett Gardner has the talent to do some damage, “We need to be more consistent on the defensive end. We must continue to be aggressive, but smart on offense.” They have an explosive offense that starts with Brady Fritz (27.6 ppg) and Joren Bruun (16.2 ppg). The entire team plays good defense, they’ve allowed 57 points per game with 8.6 steals per game. It might be tough making it to state, but they’ve put themselves in a good position to earn a SoDak 16 berth.

Notes of Interest
  • All three Winner coaches played for the Winner Warriors under Coach Drake.
  • Charles Schrader of Pine Ridge scored 29 points against Crow Creek and almost helped his team pull off the upset.
  • Todd County has four players who average double-digit scoring.

Region Roundup

Pine Ridge, Todd County and Little Wound will be good competition for Red Cloud and Winner. Unlike most regions this one doesn’t have a clear-cut favorite.

Todd County has some great post play in Ashaun Roach Valandra and Jaylen Bear Robe with their backcourt scoring leader Tyson Iyotte to make a tough team. Their head coach Kellan Herman likes their upside, “To be at our best during the playoffs we need to take care of the ball and play defense. We get in trouble when we have to many turnovers and mistakes. Playing solid team defense has also been key for us down the stretch. Being in help side, getting in the passing lanes, and taking charges is huge for us if we want to make a run.”


Region 8A

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St. Thomas More

The Cavaliers made a case to not only be the best team in the class but the best team in the state. They didn’t lose in the class and lost to two AA title contenders by a combined five points in their last two games. They have one of the best passing big men in the state in Ryder Kirsch and can flat out fill up the hoop from the perimeter with Caden Casey and Ryan Wojik. Connor Hollenbeck has been one of the most improved players in the state. Head Coach Dave Hollenbeck is getting great offensive production but the team defense is still the hallmark of this program.


The Wildcats had an impressive 14-6 season. That’s the most wins they’ve had since 2014. Head Coach Paul Kelley likes what they’ve done but wants to keep them rolling all the way to state. Jace Kelley and AJ Kortemeyer have led the resurgence.

The Rest of the Contenders

Belle Fourche went 11-8 this season thanks in large part to Kelby Olson (17.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg) leading the way. Colby Nowowiejski, Aiden Giffin and Tate Larson all bring offense too. This team has good team chemistry and is athletic. Head Coach Clay Pottorff knows they must improve on defense though, “To be at our best in the playoffs, we will need to be active and disciplined defensively and composed offensively while letting the game come to us and not trying to do too much.”

Notes of Interest
  • Belle Fourche’s entire basketball roster is made up of student-athletes who play at least two sports (most play at least three).
  • RC Christian completed their 7th consecutive winning season.
  • St. Thomas More’s championships have come in pairs. They won back to back state titles in ’06 and ’07 then again in ’11 and ’12.

Region Roundup

St. Thomas More is in another class compared to the rest of the region. They are the front-runner to get it done at the state tournament. Custer looks like a contender for the SoDak 16 but don’t be surprised if Belle Fourche gives them a run.


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