SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Roosevelt will put their undefeated record on the line when they cross paths with Yankton in the KELOLAND.com Game of the Week on Friday, Jan. 21.
For the first time in six years, Yankton is without Matthew Mors, who graduated last year as one of the most decorated players in South Dakota history.
“Obviously a transition for our coaching staff and our players to learn to play without him now. I think the guys are hanging in there and have done a good job, so far,” Yankton head coach Chris Haynes said. “The positive thing for our guys this year is that they knew coming in that there would be more opportunities, with more roles and expanded roles and things like that.”
Despite the loss of Mors, the Bucks are still off to a 5-5 start. That solid start can be credited to Yankton’s ability to create balance on offense.
“Balance is definitely a word that we talk about a lot. We’re not asking anyone to do what Matthew did and we’re not going to replace all of that production with one guy, so it has to be by committee,” Haynes said. “Everyone has to do their share and do their part.”
Roosevelt won the 2021 class ‘AA’ state championship. The Rough Riders are riding that momentum into this season as they are off to a perfect 7-0 record, thanks to the leadership of their ten seniors.
“We’re senior led by all of our guys that are playing for us right now. It’s really a fun group to coach. They do a lot of really good things, but they’re just a very unselfish group and I’ve told people time and time again, all they want to do is win,” Roosevelt head coach Mitch Begeman said.
Senior Marcus Phillips is the Rough Riders’ leading scorer with more than 15 points per game. However, Roosevelt’s success has stemmed from their offensive depth. 13 players are scoring at least a point per contest, including five players who are averaging more than five points per game.
“When you look at trying to defend us, night in and night out, we’ve got a different guy that can step up and we’ve been very fortunate to have multiple guys play well in a lot of games,” Begeman said. “When you do that, you become tough to defeat.”
Roosevelt will host Yankton on Friday in the KELOLAND.com Game of the Week as the Bucks will look to knock off number one.
“We’re going to have to be able to handle their defensive pressure, especially up there on the road. If we’re turning the ball over and giving them easy baskets or they’re getting layups off of turnovers, then that’s going to give them momentum and get the crowd in the game,” Haynes said. “For us, we’re definitely going to have to take care of the basketball and handle that defensive pressure.”
“We’ve got to be able to defend these types of teams, because they can score in a hurry. If you can’t defend these shooters and they’re knocking shots down, they can beat you and we know that,” Begeman said. “We’re going to try and stay within our scheme and system of how we play offensively, but we know defensively, we’re going to have to guard these guys and really get high hands up and contest these shots.”
The Bucks and Rough Riders will tip-off at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, January 21. You can stream the action on KELOLAND.com.
Play-by-play will be provided by KELOLAND.com’s Grant Sweeter