Last year Roosevelt was the favorite to contend with Pierre for a AA title. That talented team came up just short, finishing third at state. This year they have another strong senior class that has waited for their time to shine.
This year the Riders will have to replace six key seniors that combined to average just under 57 of their 70 points per game leading them to a 23-2 record. They have now moved on and set the bar for Roosevelt basketball.
"Those guys were great last year, they were great leaders. We are going to try to feed off of those guys and try to do a lot of the same things they did, but also bring in our own style. They taught us how to play as a team and we will try to repeat that this year," Rough Riders Senior Forward Chris Phillips said.
Roosevelt had a tough schedule last year playing teams from all over the country. Once again they will be tested by teams from North Carolina, St. Paul, Sioux City, and Marshall. They feel these games not only prepare them for South Dakota's best, but is also a fun way to play different styles of basketball.
"They are fun and they get us playing different teams than usual. I think that playing those better teams and better competition gets us prepared for the better teams around South Dakota that we play throughout the year," Rough Riders Senior Guard Colton Koomia said.
A few key players returning are Chris Phillips, Colton, Koomia, and Josh Kirwold. The team is also excited about the presence of Jason Spicer. Their J-V team went 19-1 a season ago and that's why their not thinking of rebuilding.
"Hopefully it will be an easier transition for them to play at a high level, they practice against it everyday. I think having more seniors helps because it is a very physical game and I think their bodies are mature enough to handle that mentally and physically," Roosevelt Head Coach Lee Taylor said.
"We have plenty of talent. I think a lot of teams would say we are rebuilding, but that's not the case with us at all. I think we're going to have another great year and we can do great things," Koomia said.
Roosevelt will tip off their season at Brookings on December 21st. They will play at the Corn Palace, then the Pentagon against national teams.