MITCHELL, S.D. (KELO) — The De Smet boys basketball team graduated a majority of their scoring from last year’s class ‘B’ state championship team, yet the Bulldogs are off to a 10-2 start, including a recent win over #4 Lower Brule.
Third-ranked De Smet earned a 61-53 victory over #4 Lower Brule Saturday at the Hanson Classic. After trailing by six at halftime, the Bulldogs would dominate the second half outscoring the Sioux, 31-17.
“We just became a little more aggressive offensively. When we tried to get the ball and just move it a little bit better we found a few gaps that were opening. I thought, on the floor at halftime we just made a few adjustments to that, but it wasn’t anything big it was more just getting our guys to believe. You know you got to go attack the lane a little more and don’t sit back,” De Smet head coach Jeff Gruenhagen said.
De Smet controlled the paint, thanks to 6’10 center, Damon Wilkinson. He collected a double-double of 19 points and 17 rebounds.
“He’s just worked so hard getting post ups, a lot of times against double… triple teamed even, just a lot of crowd in there and you know, he maintains his composure pretty good. Just been battling for us getting rebounds, you know, changing shots, his length really changes stuff for us,” Gruenhagen said.
Saturday’s matchup was a rematch of last year’s class ‘B’ state championship, though the Bulldogs looked a little different.
“We knew that they graduated only one really good player and then they had the same team basically and we graduated quite a bit. Kalen and Rett, Tory were a really big part of the team last year, but we knew that they’re going to be really good. We knew if we played defensive and stop them every possession that we’d win the game,” De Smet center Damon Wilkinson said.
The victory continued to prove that the two time defending champs are still strong contenders in class ‘B’.
“The rest of our season is still tough. We got a lot of tough games a lot left and hopefully that keeps preparing us for the postseason. We want to get back to Aberdeen to the state tournament,” Gruenhagen said.
De Smet improved to 10-2 with a win over Castlewood on Monday. They’ll host Canistota on Thursday.