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BALL FIVE: Naming my All-All-Tournament Team

The way the four state basketball tournaments were played this weekend offered a chance to see a lot of each of the tournaments. With the Class B tournament being played East River, the Class A tourney being played West River and the Class AA tournaments being played in alternate fashion, Friday and Saturday’s championship round action had all the games starting at different times.
The double overtime game between Bridgewater-Emery and White River in the Class B third-place game kind of messed up the timing of everything, but on Saturday I was able to watch, in order, Dawn Seiler and the Aberdeen Golden Eagles win their second Class AA girls’ state championship together, the Sully Buttes Chargers win their second Class B title, while making Clark and Willow Lake the bridesmaid for the fourth time (without ever winning), the Yankton Bucks led by a 6-foot-7 freshman phenom win its first Class AA title in 40 years, and the Madison Bulldogs win the Class A title by playing like they were the best team in the state.
So yes, I missed all the NCAA upsets. Well not really. I didn’t see them, but I didn’t miss them either.
You know what? South Dakota high school basketball puts some talent on the floor. It made me think of which players were the best I saw during three days of championship play. Actually, I saw too many good players to give everyone their due. So, I decided to list my All-All-Tournament Team, comprised of players from all three boys’ state tournaments (Central’s win was the only girls’ game I watched).
Because of just how long this list could possibly be, this team is made up of almost entirely players from teams that played in the championship games. There is one exception, or make it two, that is that a pair of Timber Lake Panthers (who I watched every minute of every game) are on the team.
Let’s start right there. Making the AATT from Timber Lake are juniors Brayden Pay Pay and Tucker Kraft. The duo played some top-notch basketball in leading the Panthers to the Class B consolation championship. Pay Pay was the tourney’s third leading scorer with 63 points. He lit up state champion Sully Buttes with five three-pointers and then dropped 28 on Canistota in the fifth-place game. Kraft put up 14 points against Sully Buttes and 19 against Canistota, but it was his rebounding that puts him on the team. Kraft led the entire tourney in defensive rebounds with 26. He pulled down 13 boards in the win over Langford Area.
Also making the team from Class B are seniors Lincoln Jordre and Jacob Howard and sophomore Nick Wittler of Sully Buttes. The trio were the driving force for the state champs. Their championship game numbers are all you need to see. Jordre scored 16 points and blocked four shots. Howard put up a 15-point, 16-rebound, double-double. Wittler hit six threes and scored a team-leading 18 points. They did okay in their other games too.
Runners-up Clark/Willow Lake puts junior Jacob Prouty and senior Ntai Stevens on the team. Prouty can make shots. He scored 75 points in three games, hitting 11 three-pointers to tie with Pay Pay for the tourney lead. Prouty scored a game-high 21 in the championship, while scoring 27 in each of the first two games. Stevens, while fighting with the Sully Buttes big boys, registered a 12-point, 10-rebound championship game, his second double-double of the tournament.
Madison has a three-headed monster making the team in twins Jaxon and Jadon Janke and Aaron Fiegen. Here’s all you need to know about the three Bulldog seniors. With Madison leading Tea Area 48-47 with 6:30 to go, Madison went to Jadon Janke and he hit a three. After a defensive stop they went to Jaxon Janke, he got fouled and made two free throws. After another defensive stop they went to Fiegen, he too was fouled and sank both shots. While the trio did myriad things, such as combining for 61 points, 24 rebounds, six assists and four steals in the title game, the seven-point run exemplifies what champions are. On three consecutive possessions, the Bulldogs went to their three stars and they each produced, turning a back-and-forth contest into game that was basically won with four minutes left to play.
Tea Area did not win the title last year and take second this year without some really good basketball players. The two best in my eyes will be back for another run in juniors Noah Friedel and Justin Hohn. Friedel is simply a beast. At 6’4”, he plays like he is destined to become a college guard. Friedel scored 25 points, grabbed seven rebounds and added three blocks and three steals in the championship game. In three games he scored 76 points, hit nine three-pointers and blocked six shots, all tourney-leading numbers. Hohn had 18 points, six assists and three steals in the title game. He led the tourney in assists with 15 and was second in steals with 10.
Class AA was all about a 15-year-old who is on his way to becoming the state’s next superstar. In leading Yankton to its first state title since 1978, Mors has already put his name up where it will be mentioned with the likes of Eric Piatkowski and Mike Miller. All the freshman did was score 86 points, the most in any tournament, including 30 points in the first round and 36 in the semifinals. In the championship he scored 18 of the Bucks’ 39 points, including hitting the game winner, an 18-foot turn-around jumper with a man in his grill with 16 seconds left. Just think about this. Mors has to have another birthday before he is even old enough to drive after dark.
Joining Mors is teammate Rex Ryken. The junior scored 14 points on five-of-seven shooting and grabbed seven boards in the championship game.
Harrisburg’s Ace Zorr rounds out the All-All-Tournament Team. The 6’5” senior scored just seven points in the championship game, but in a low-scoring game, he scored six in the fourth quarter. Zorr also scored 20 points to lead Harrisburg to its semifinal win over number one seed Rapid City Stevens.

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