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    Weekly Top 12 - February 12

    I was sitting around doing coffee at Stone’s with a group of friends, and one of them suggested that I do a Top 12 this week.   Considering all that is going on this time of the season and looking ahead to the post season, a weekly top 12 is the right thing to do this week.    And, because it is February 12 … a top 12 is appropriate. 

    Here it is: the Weekly Jackalope Top 10 plus 2 for the week of February 12, 2018.

    12.) The good news story of the week is from Bridgewater.   Cole Gassman returned for Bridgewater Emery.   The senior point guard, who is also an all-state football player, tore his ACL playing football last fall.   The injury caused Cole to miss the rest of his senior football season and the first two plus months of the basketball season.  He is back now ... returned Saturday February 3rd against Gregory.   Cole scored 8 points and added a rebound, an assist, and a steal.  His leadership and all around floor play will add to the Huskies depth and give BE another guard with scoring, passing, and ball handling skills. 

    11.) Dynamic duo of the week award goes to Bridgewater Emery's Sawyer Schultz and Carter Dye as they combined to score 44 points in their 80-52 win over Canton. 

    10.) Last year I recommended that AA include all the teams and let the bottom seeds “play-in” against each other to get the final 16 teams that would then playoff in a sweet 16 format.  Currently how this would change the AA final teams in:

    • Mitchell with zero wins is out under current format
    • Brookings with three wins over AA teams is out (although the Bobcats wins are: two over Mitchell and one over Huron ... not compellingly impressive)
    • Spearfish with zero wins over AA teams and six wins over A teams ... only two with winning records (Hot Springs and Hill City) ... is in
    • Pierre with a “reasonable resume” of six wins ... including wins over Yankton and Harrisburg is in

    Under my process, Mitchell would play Pierre and Brookings would play Spearfish with the winners becoming the final two in.   In my opinion, Brookings deserves a chance to compete against Spearfish on the floor to determine the final one in to the Sweet 16.   Other interesting phenomenon: Aberdeen Central continues to rise and at 8th would play 9th Seed O’Gorman if the season ended today.   Two Black Hills area teams continue to slip in Seed Points and are now 10th (Douglas) and 12th (Sturgis).   The two Rapid City public schools continue to sit on top of the Seed Points: Stevens at number 1 and Central 2nd.   

    9.) AJ Plitzuweit has played his junior and senior basketball seasons in South Dakota after beginning his high school career in Kentucky.   AJ’s play has been spectacular.   In his junior season, he earned Class A all-state.   His senior season has been even more stellar and has been one of the most prolific scoring seasons in recent memory ... as each game brings even more super play.  AJ and his Tanagers team mates did not make the state tournament last season ... even with all-state running mate Cooper Williams sharing some scoring load.  What is the outlook this season for Vermillion?   Will the fans get to see arguably the most exciting player in the state, play in the state tournament in Rapid City?   Well ... Vermillion currently sits 3rd in Seed Points in Region 4 ... behind Tea at number 2 and Dakota Valley at number 1.   This probably means Vermillion would have to beat one of those teams just to make the Sweet 16 and would then need another upset over a higher seeded team to make the state tournament.   Vermillion lost to Tea in late December by 22, and lost to Dakota Valley by 10 last week.   Don’t ever say never, but Vermillion will need to string together 3 or 4 solid post season games … and spring an upset or two … to make the final 8 and play in Rapid City.   

    8.) Biggest surprises of the season, Class B: Herreid Selby is 16-2 and is powered by 6'6 Emmit Bohle ... I am not surprised if you are saying out loud: who?   Timber Lake is 13-3 and the Panthers junior guard Brayden Pay is having a nice season.   Warner is 16-3 and getting positive traction from the entire team as opposed to any one individual having a stellar season.  Derek Hoellein is an outstanding young coach ... my pick for best young coach under 30.   Class A: Dakota Valley has successfully reloaded and sits at 12-4 while playing a freshman guard, Paul Bruns and a pair of Jacks: Jack McCabe and Jack Graves.   Canton, although they are sub-500, still have one of the leading scorers and a strong all-state contender in sophomore guard Kayden Verley.  Bon Homme is a surprising 13-3 and have a potential all-state player in Bryce Scieszinski.  Crow Creek is leading Region 6 Seed Points with a 14-3 record.  Josiah Blue Arm and Luke Wells and Joe Sazue are a potent scoring threesome.   Class AA: Rapid City Central is 13-3 and 2nd in AA Seed Points.   Kailleb Walton-Blandon is a dynamic guard for the Cobblers.   Rapid City Stevens is 14-2 and leading AA Seed Points.  Connor King and Cooper Bowman are senior leaders.  Harrisburg at 15-2 is arguably the best team in AA.  Ace Zorr complements guards Brady Van Holland and Chase Altenburg. 

    7.) Sioux Valley almost hit the century mark in their 99-47 win over Deuel.  Whisky Tango Foxtrot?   Deuel can beat Clark Willow Lake and Clark Willow Lake can beat Sioux Valley and then the Cossacks can piss pound Deuel by 50?  This is the latest "comparative scores don't mean Jack Schitt exhibit".  The Cossacks sweet shooting southpaw, Trevor Olson, scored a school record tying 47 points, including 7 treys.  Deuel's Kellen Benck, who twisted the three point dagger in the Cyclones when they played, scored 17, including 5 triples.   Back to the school record of 47 points: Trevor Olson shares the record with current team mate Trevor Hanson who scored 47 earlier this season.   Last week I mused about a team with three 1000 point scorers in the lineup ... like Sioux Valley had last year with Olson, Hanson, and Tayt Vincent ... that couldn't get out of the round of 16.  I consistently have the Cossacks in the top 3 of my Class A rankings ... we shall see if Trevor x 2 = Final 8 and road trip to Rapid City in March.   The continued improvements from sophomore point guard Max Nielson is critical as is the continued scoring and all around play from fellow sophomore Ryan Schuster.

    6.) The very best of the non-seniors (and a tribute to the Super 8) are: Class of 2019 Super 8 -- Sawyer Schultz (Bridgewater Emery); Noah Freidel (Tea); Jacob Prouty (Clark Willow Lake); Ale Rama (Red Cloud); Trey King (Irene Wakonda); Mitchell Goodbary (Sioux Falls Christian); Drew Cole (Brookings); Nick Hoyt (Harrisburg).  Class of 2020 Super 8 - Kayden Verley (Canton); Kobe Busch (Huron); Max Nielson (Sioux Valley); Luke Wells (Crow Creek); Noah Dickson (Sanborn Central Woonsocket); Shane Sazue (Lower Brule); Akoi Akoi (O’Gorman); Andrew Rohrbach (Aberdeen Christian).   Class of 2021 Super 8 - Matthew Mors (Yankton); Paul Bruns (Dakota Valley); Connor Libis (Dell Rapids St Mary); Jace Kelley (Custer); Tyce Ortman (Canistota); Ryan Wojcik (St Thomas More); Kaylen Clairmont (St Francis Indian); Brady Fritz (Winner). 

    5.) Players with big games included: De Smet’s Gage Gruenhagen with 29 against James Valley Christian; Burke South Central’s Jaden Frank hit for 33 vs Wessington Springs; Irene Wakonda’s Tre King scored 34 in their win over MVP; Dane Rihanek from MVP had 27 in that same game; Gus Reede scored 30 in the Green Cavaliers loss to Sioux Falls Christian; Pine Ridge’s Corey Brown scored 25 in the Thorpes win over Parker; believe it or not, Vermillion’s AJ Plitzuweit scored 45 in the Tanagers loss to Le Mars Iowa; Gregory’s Jayd Van Der Werff scored 30 against Scotland; Beresford’s Jonah Larson scored 23 vs EPJ; Chamberlain’s Riggs Priebe scored 25 against Wagner; Jeffrey Schuch scored 27 in the Quarriers big win over Dakota Valley; Harrisburg’s Nick Hoyt scored 23 against Watertown; St Thomas More’s Caden Casey scored 27 vs Red Cloud and Red Cloud’s Russell Leader Charge scored 25 in that same game; Pine Ridge’s Halin Bad Bear had 23 in their loss to Crow Creek; Joe Sazue had 25 in that win and Josiah Blue Arm had 24; Langford’s Mason Larson scored 24 against Faulkton; Lyman’s Tate Wagner scored 26 vs Philip; Noah Freidel scored 29 for Tea against Parkston; Connor Libis, Dell Rapids St Mary, scored 35 vs Elkton Lake Benton; Dylan Le Brun dropped 29 for Flandreau over Parker.    These are many of the names you will hear called when the all-state teams are announced after the season … and the next few years for those players who are sophomores and freshmen. 

    4.) In the most painful category: Mitchell lost ... again ... and sits at an embarrassing 0-17.   The Kernels are riding a 40 game losing streak!  Remember Iroquois from a few years ago?   Mitchell is ‘the Iroquois” of Class AA.

    3.) If you are a Cavalier fan, you need to avert your eyes from the Seed Point standings as both the Roncalli Green Cavaliers and the Blue Cavaliers from St Thomas More are riding in the slow lane.  Roncalli is number 4 in Region 1 ... trailing the leader, Sisseton, and Redfield Doland and Tiospa Zina.  STM is number 3 in Region 8 ... behind Rapid City Christian and Hot Springs ... gulp ... that is not a typo!  Traditional powerhouses Mc Laughlin, Stanley County, Bon Homme, Hamlin, Redfield Doland and Tiospa Zina all have higher Seed Points than Tommie More.   All right, I will stop the blog flogging ... and the sarcasm.   I still predict that St Thomas More will be a Sweet 16 participant.  I am not as sure about Roncalli ... as I really like the upset capability of Tiospa Zina.  The Wambdi have a plethora of guards ... and guards rule in South Dakota high school basketball ... especially in post season.

    2.) Current Power Rankings:

    • Sioux Falls Christian — traveled to Iowa and beat Western Iowa and then beat Roncalli at the DWU Classic and are the only undefeated team left in the state
    • Harrisburg — the hits just keep coming for the 15-2 Tigers
    • Madison — Bulldogs are 16-1 with lone loss to SFC
    • Rapid City Stevens — Cobblers are on top of AA with 14-2 record
    • Sioux Falls Lincoln —the best Sioux Falls AA team

    1.) The number 1 tidbit of the week comes out of Mitchell and the DWU Classic.   The spotlight game of the night pitted defending Class B champs Bridgewater Emery, 14-3, against perennial powerhouse, 15-2, White River.   The final result: Bridgewater Emery over White River, 65-52.   This was a battle of top 5 Class B teams and could be a preview of what you might see at the B tournament in Aberdeen.   Both teams currently lead their respective regions in Seed Points and are expected to advance to the Sweet 16.  Except for some runs by White River, Bridgewater Emery controlled the game throughout.    I am more impressed with the Huskies Carter Dye every week with his outstanding all around play.   He scored 17 and added 13 rebounds and gives BE a great third option to complement all-state guards: Sawyer Schultz and Jamin Arend.   White River lost for only the 2nd time and were led by Teron Sazue and Jadice Morrison with 14 points.   Cole Gassman got another game under his belt for the Huskies as they march towards March and prepare for post season play.  

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