SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The high school basketball season has played a full two weeks of action in December, but what have we learned? The answer is, a lot.
Learning a lot this early in the season is quite easy when you have six classes and more than a hundred teams to observe. Five teams went from unranked to ranked this past week including three in the class ‘AA’ hoops and that’s where we start.
CLASS ‘AA’ BOYS
December 20 Rankings:
- Roosevelt (19) 3-0 95 1
- O’Gorman 3-1 58 2
- Aberdeen Central 4-0 51 4
- Harrisburg 2-0 38 RV
- Pierre 4-0 22 RV
Receiving votes: Mitchell 19, Sioux Falls Lincoln 2.
Two of the three teams that move into the rankings were on the class ‘AA’ boys side including Harrisburg and Pierre and we’ll get to those teams in a second.
Top-ranked Roosevelt was the preseason favorite and they continue to prove their worth. They were taken down to the wire by O’Gorman on Tuesday, December 14, but the Rough Riders held on for a 60-59 win.
O’Gorman clings to the second spot, despite being the only team in the top five with a loss. The Knights lone loss was to Roosevelt and that close game has kept them in second.
The next three teams have some interesting ties to them. Aberdeen Central was expected to be strong and they continue to prove that. They added a pair of big wins over Spearfish and Sturgis this past week. However, the Golden Eagles have yet to play a team with a winning record, as of Monday. Their four games are against teams with a combined 4-11 record. Their next five games include a combined record of 4-8. That includes Washington and Lincoln who are two teams expected to be big competitors this year.
Then there’s the two newcomers to the rankings, Harrisburg and Pierre.
The Tigers picked up two ranked wins this past week including wins over #3 Washington and #5 Lincoln. The Tigers have depth when it comes to scoring. A host of talented scorers help pace Harrisburg including Gavin Aasheim, Ethan Determan, Jacoby Meherman, Andrew Walter and plenty more. The Tigers have a high paced offense and it’s fun to watch.
Pierre is a team that can certainly score the basketball. The Governors are scoring 69 points per game, including a season high 82 against Spearfish. They’ve also played a schedule with a combined record of 4-11. The most impressive part of Pierre has to be the defense. Their allowing just 38.5 points per game.
Teams to watch: Mitchell is a team to keep an eye on as they are 3-0 and own one of the top players in the state in Caden Hinker. Lincoln and Washington are teams that haven’t started the strongest, but when they find their identities and rhythm, they’ll be tough teams to beat.
CLASS ‘AA’ GIRLS
December 20 Rankings:
- Washington (19) 3-0 95 1
- Brandon Valley 3-0 75 2
- O’Gorman 2-1 54 3
- RC Central 3-0 40 RV
- RC Stevens 3-1 19 4
Receiving votes: Harrisburg 1, Watertown 1.
Class ‘AA’ had one newcomer to the top five rankings and that includes undefeated Rapid City Central. The Cobblers are fresh off their win over in-town rival Rapid City Stevens, moving them into the rankings. This team has been trending the right direction over the past couple years and it appears they may have put it all together this season. Like many good teams, the Cobblers play lights out defense. They’re allowing just 33 points per contest.
Washington is one of the other unbeatens in class ‘AA’ and following their state championship last year, the class seems like theirs until they’re dethroned. They cruised by Lincoln and Yankton to open the year, but were battled right down to the wire in a win over Harrisburg, 86-80. The Warriors offense seems to be off the charts. They’re scoring 77 points per game.
The third unbeaten team in ‘AA’ girls is Brandon Valley. Their offense has been good, but they rely more on their defense and that’s just the way they’d like to see it. They’re allowing 52 points per game, but that has come against three Metro Conference teams in O’Gorman, Jefferson and Roosevelt. That number is going to drop as they go forward.
O’Gorman lost to Brandon Valley 70-66 to open the season. That must’ve motivated the Knights because they’ve won back to back games by 27 or more points and that came against Roosevelt and Jefferson. They don’t play again until January, but they get Brookings, Watertown and Washington in a matter of a week in January.
Rapid City Stevens is still a team to monitor in class ‘AA’ girls. They suffered a narrow loss to rival RC Central, but those type of games can be motivating and I’d keep an eye on the Raiders.
Teams to watch: Harrisburg and Watertown are two teams to watch for two reasons. The first reason for Watertown is their record! They’re the lone unbeaten that isn’t ranked in the top five as they are sitting at 3-0. For Harrisburg, they’re fresh off a stellar performance against Washington that saw the Tigers nearly upset the top-ranked team. Those are two simple reasons to watch the Arrows and Tigers.
CLASS ‘A’ BOYS
December 20 Rankings:
- Sioux Valley (17) 1-0 92 1
- Dakota Valley (1) 2-0 72 2
- St. Thomas More (1) 5-0 56 3
- Winner 4-0 27 RV
- Sioux Falls Christian 2-2 18 5
Receiving votes: Tea Area 16, West Central 3, Hanson 1.
Winner has received at least one vote in each of the first two rankings (preseason and week one), but they are finally in the top five rankings.
The Warriors knocked off #4 West Central, 67-55, while also earning wins over Stanley County and Sully Buttes. They’re off to a 4-0 start and that has them in the top five.
Sioux Valley is last year’s class ‘A’ runner-up and they look sharp again this week. They were supposed to play Baltic last week, but that game was postponed due to illness. They’ll meet Beresford on Tuesday, December 21 in their only game this week. All eyes are still on their matchup against De Smet on Dec. 31.
Dakota Valley sits second in the rankings as they are 2-0. Isaac Bruns has been their leader this season as he just eclipsed the 1,000 point mark. The next two games will be interesting tests for the Panthers. They’ll play Tea Area and Platte-Geddes, two teams that are receiving votes in their respective classes. Many should keep an eye on the Panthers this next week to see how they handle these two tough battles.
St. Thomas checks in at three, but they’re a tough team to judge. They’re undefeated, but with just one win in South Dakota and four outside of the state. They did upend Douglas, 66-56. The Cavaliers appear to be a threat again as they continue their run of teams that many keep an eye on. They have a 12 day break as their next game is set to be against Houston, Tennessee in the Hoop City Classic.
Sioux Falls Christian sits two votes above Tea Area for the final spot in the rankings. The Chargers are the defending champions, but are off to a 2-2 start including losses to West Central and O’Gorman. They’ll get an 11 day break as they prepare for First Assembly Christian from Tennessee.
Teams to watch: Tea Area, West Central and Hanson are teams to keep an eye on as they received votes this past week. Of those, Tea Area is the one I’d watch closely. The Titans looked really good on the road against a talented Dell Rapids team. Monday night will be a big test as they play at #2 Dakota Valley. I expect that game to be a very close contest. The Titans certainly have a chance to make some early season noise.
CLASS ‘A’ GIRLS
December 20 Rankings:
1. St. Thomas More (11) 3-1 74 1
2. Flandreau (3) 4-0 62 4
3. West Central (2) 3-0 61 3
T-4. Hamlin 2-1 28 2
T-4. Wagner (1) 2-0 28
Receiving votes: Dakota Valley (1) 15, Sioux Falls Christian (1) 6, Red Cloud 6, Winner 4, Florence-Henry 1.
There has been just two prep media polls, but I’m pretty sure that the most shuffling in one class has come in class ‘A’ girls. It’s one of those classes that most coaches and media members will say ‘it’s up for grabs’. That is mainly because of the talent in the class.
Annual talent, St. Thomas More, sits atop the standings, but three spots changed. Flandreau leaped over West Central, while Hamlin fell to fourth. Wagner is now tied with Hamlin for fourth.
STM is yet to play a team from South Dakota as they sit at 3-1, having played teams from outside the state. They’ll face Hill City and Rapid City Christian before the new year. They have to make the cross-state trip to West Central in the middle of January and I think a lot of people are excited for that contest.
Flandreau is number two and they’ve been impressive this season. They beat Hamlin by one point, but have powered past their other three opponents. The Fliers are allowing just 34 points per game defensively and that has led to their four impressive wins.
West Central is number three as they sit at 3-0. They have two very impressive wins over Mount Vernon/Plankinton and Winner. They’re scoring 55 points per game and that has helped them edge out a couple of hard fought wins. Next up, Sioux Falls Jefferson as the Trojans get to battle a talented ‘AA’ school.
Hamlin and Wagner are tied as the fourth-ranked team. The two teams came from opposite places almost as both were expected to be pretty good, but Hamlin was the state runner-up and Wagner is the new team to watch. The Chargers are 2-1 with a tough loss to #2 Flandreau, while Wagner is 2-0 with an impressive season opening win over Winner.
Teams to watch: There are so many teams that could make noise in class ‘A’, but the team I think that isn’t ranked, but is close has to be Dakota Valley. The Panthers are 4-0 and I’ve heard a lot of positive comments from coaches about this year’s Dakota Valley team. They’ll get a big test with Tea Area on Monday, Dec. 20 and then Corsica-Stickney on Dec. 28.
CLASS ‘B’ BOYS
December 20 Rankings:
- De Smet (19) 3-1 95 1
- Aberdeen Christian 3-0 66 3
- White River 3-1 40 2
- Lower Brule 4-0 28 NR
- Viborg-Hurley 3-0 26 4
Receiving votes: Dell Rapids St. Mary 13, Platte-Geddes 11, Lyman 3, Waubay-Summit 3.
De Smet earned a win via buzzer beater on Tuesday and lost their first game of the season three days later, but they look better than ever. The Bulldogs played nationally known Dream City Christian from Arizona and they led until the final minute. They would fall 61-57, but many took note of the Bulldogs and their leader, Kalen Garry, who scored 35 points. The Bulldogs have a challenging schedule, but that will just build them stronger and it appears to be happening already.
Aberdeen Christian is the new number two as they are 3-0. Just like last season, the Knights are playing some ferocious defense. They’re allowing less than 40 points per contest so far and that’s something that has led to a lot of success for them over the last two seasons.
White River sits third with Lower Brule right behind them. The Tigers are 3-1 with their lone loss to the Sioux of Lower Brule who is 4-0. Both teams are off for a few days, but they’ll be challenged in their next game. The Tigers get #2 Aberdeen Christian next week, while Lower Brule faces #5 Viborg-Hurley.
Viborg-Hurley is number five as they are 3-0. Similar to Aberdeen Christian, the Cougars rely on their defense which is allowing just 32 points per contest. They’ll play up to class ‘A’ on Tuesday against Elk Point-Jefferson.
Teams to watch: The two teams to keep close eyes on in my opinion are Platte-Geddes and Dell Rapids St. Mary. The Cardinals will be put to the test on Monday, December 20 as they host De Smet. It’ll be the first time in five years that the Bulldogs will play the Cardinals without Connor Libis in the starting lineup. The Black Panthers are 2-0 and playing some good basketball as they’re scoring 64 points per game so far.
CLASS ‘B’ GIRLS
December 20 Rankings:
- Roncalli (18) 3-0 94 1
- Corsica-Stickney (1) 4-0 77 2
- White River 5-1 45 3
- Aberdeen Christian 4-0 42 5
- Ethan 3-1 10 4
Receiving votes: Viborg-Hurley 8, Colman-Egan 4, De Smet 3, Howard 1, Castlewood 1.
Aberdeen Roncalli received 18 of the 19 first place votes. They have been very good this season. The Cavaliers are scoring 64 points per game this season on offense and allowing just 37 points per contest defensively. That’s an average win of 27 points per game. Keep a close eye on the Cavs, they deserve the extra attention this season.
Corsica-Stickney also deserves some attention. They’re defense has been lights out as well, allowing just 32 points per contest. They also have their top player back from injury in Avery Broughton. Those two things have led to their 4-0 start. Their next game is Dec. 28 and it’s against Dakota Valley. That game should be fun!
White River checks in at three, coming off their loss to class ‘A’ Red Cloud. The Tigers are still 5-1 as they are scoring 61 points per game. They graduated their leading scorer from a year ago in Caelyn Valandra-Prue, but they are still finding a way to score points.
Aberdeen Christian is 4-0 on the season. Many thought that the Knights would be a team to reckon with this year and they certainly are, thanks to a defense that is allowing just 33 points per contest. They get a break before playing Iroquois/Doland on January 4.
Ethan is number five as they are 3-1. A win over Hanson to open the season is probably a big reason they’re in the top five, plus the fact that their lone loss came to Andes Central/Dakota Christian who is undefeated this season. Following their loss, they’ve cruised to a pair of wins and allowed just 23.5 points defensively in the process.
Teams to watch: There are a lot of teams to watch in class ‘B’ girls basketball, but the one that really stands out is Viborg-Hurley. The Cougars came on strong last season and now they are 3-0 this season. Their next two games are against Elk Point-Jefferson and Parkston, who own a combined record of 7-1. That’ll certainly be a test to the Cougars.