NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Dakota Valley is the preseason number one team in Class “A” Boys hoops. Part of that has to do with future UND Fighting Hawk Paul Bruns back for his senior season, but the pieces around him are what make this year’s Panthers team a state title contender.
Preseason hype is simply just that, hype.
“Being ranked so high this year is cool, but we know it’s just preseason, and that really means nothing right now. We need to prove it on the court,” Dakota Valley senior Paul Bruns said.
Paul Bruns averaged 29 points and nearly 13 boards a game last season, but his coach says he’ll be even better this year.
“All he cares about is winning. And you can just see it in the way that he’s playing. He’s playing completely free, and unselfishly. He’s playing, doing all the little things with rebounding, defense, just another notch up from what he did last year,” Dakota Valley Head Coach Jason Kleis said.
Bruns’ younger brother Isaac, and senior Chayce Montagne are the other two returning starters for Jason Kleis, but the depth of this team as a whole stands out.
“Probably from one through seven or eight, the deepest team we’ve had in a long time,” Kleis said.
Kleis says this may be the best defensive team he’s ever had, and much of that has to do with the team’s length.
“Probably four or five kids over 6’2″, 6’3″, which you know, defensively and rebounding makes a big difference. We’re going to have at least three guys on the floor at least 6’3″ or taller on the floor at all times,” Kleis said.
The state tournament’s cancellation last year has provided DV with some perspective.
“You never know, especially with Covid and stuff, any game could be your last. So we’re going to take advantage of the moments we get out there, and try to do our best every game and every practice,” Bruns said.
But also with some added motivation.
“I feel an extra motivation to get these kids to be as good as they can be, to give them a shot to be back there again. I know they feel it too. They want to be as good as they can be. They want to give themselves a shot to potentially win a state title, and that’s what we’re after,” Kleis said.
The Panthers open their season at Tea Area on Friday, December 11th.