Tigers play familiar foe in Cavaliers
By Jay Davis
The last time the Tigers played in the state basketball tournament, the current players were just learning how to dribble. This is the first time in 19 trips to state that a Tiger team will play in Rapid City. But not all is unfamiliar, as the Tigers will open against a team they know very well in the Aberdeen Roncalli Cavaliers.
The Tigers and Cavaliers will tip off in the 6 p.m. (MDT) game at the State A Basketball Tournament at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City on Thursday.
“We like the matchup,” said coach Tim Frederick. “That being said, we have a lot of respect for one of the best basketball programs in the state.”
Mobridge went to Aberdeen early in the season. The Cavaliers beat the Tigers 70-59 that night. In that game, the Cavaliers jumped out to a 13-point lead in the first quarter. The Tigers fought back to get within seven points before the Cavaliers used free throw success to stave off the comeback attempt.
The Tigers know they can do battle with Roncalli, even though they enter state as the seven seed with the Cavaliers rated as the second seed.
The Tigers will also have to overcome what Frederick calls the “Roncalli factor.” The Cavaliers have been a dominant team against the Tigers over the years. Roncalli leads the all-time series 34-13 and holds a nine-game win streak. The Tigers have not beaten the Cavaliers since the 2004-05 season.
Frederick said his Tigers don’t care about that.
“This group of players has already done things that some other teams haven’t,” said Frederick. “All the pressure is on them. The boys are excited for a chance to play and beat Roncalli and move on in the tournament.”
The Tigers averaged 65 points per contest in their first 23 games, while surrendering an average of 56 points. The Cavaliers in contrast won a 57-46 game on the average night.
The Tigers battled hard through three postseason games to get to state. They edged Stanley County 60-53 in the District 11A semifinals and then won an 87-77 two-overtime game against Cheyenne-Eagle Butte in the District 11A championship game. The Tigers used an overpowering fourth quarter to defeat Miller 55-45 in the Region 6A championship game.
In having a three-team district, the Cavaliers have played just two postseason games. They ousted Groton Area 60-53 in the District 1A title game and fought for a 56-54 triple overtime win over Sisseton in the Region 1A championship game.
The Tigers have three players who have scored more than 300 points this season. Senior point guard Zach Dockter leads the team with 349 points, an average of 15.2 points per contest. Senior forward Daniel Roberts has 326 points for an average of 14.8 and junior guard Mitch Heumiller averages 14.5, having scored 319 points. Senior center Pearson Wientjes and senior guard Cody Schaefbauer added to the potent lineup with six points each per game. Wientjes leads in rebounding with 7.1 per outing. Roberts averages 6.5 caroms and Schaefbauer averages 4.4.
The Tigers are not as tall as the Cavaliers. The starting lineup has Dockter at 5’11”, Heumiller at 6’1”, Wientjes at 6’4”, Schaefbauer at 5’11” and Roberts at 6’2”.
Junior Jason Hill (6’2”) and sophomores Preston Frederick (5’9”) and Mason Keller (6’0”) added quality time off the bench. Hill averages 4.6 points and 4.3 rebounds. Frederick scores 2.5 points and shoots 40 percent from outside. Keller brings 2.7 points and two rebounds.
The Cavaliers will start three seniors in 6’0” senior guard Kendal Deutsch, 6’1” senior guard Kory Schwan, 6’1” sophomore forward Brayden McNeary, 6’2” junior forward Zach Andera and 6’6” senior center Dominic King.
Schwan is the leading scorer at 13.3 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game. King gets 10.6 points and 6.5 boards on a given night. Andera averages 8.1 points and 5.7 rebounds. McNeary gets 6.6 points and four rebounds and Deutsch gets 4.9 points and two rebounds.
Juniors Zach Schaefbauer (6’1”) and Lucas Lorenz (6’1”) are the Cavaliers’ top bench players. Schaefbauer gets 5.7 points and 1.4 boards, while Lorenz averages 4.6 points and 3.4 rebounds.