As the dust settles from another successful Summit League basketball tournament at the Arena, it’s time to make way for the Class AA boys hoop fest, which tips off Thursday with Roosevelt as the No. 1 seed.
After picking the Lincoln girls to lose in the first round of last week’s ‘AA’ tourney in Rapid City and seeing them surge to their first-ever state title, I’m hoping for better luck with my forecast this time around.
Here’s a look at how I think the boys bracket will shake down in Sioux Falls:
First round: Roosevelt over Rapid City Stevens, Brandon Valley over Huron, Pierre over Rapid City Central, Lincoln over Brookings.
Semifinals: Roosevelt over Brandon Valley, Pierre over Lincoln.
Championship: Roosevelt over Pierre.
Summary: Expectations were high for the Rough Riders this season, and they have exceeded them in many respects. The team’s frenzied full-court style perfectly suits the depth and athleticism that Lee Taylor and his staff roll out each night, led by seniors Tyler Howard, Brandon Boggs, Nate Cole, Lucas Wilber and Jeremiah Clark. This shapes up as their shining moment, with a chance to give Roosevelt its first state title since 2000 in front of a Sioux Falls crowd. But it will be a battle, rather than a coronation. Though the Riders set a school record with 1,582 total points this season (an average of 71.9 a game), they are not known for great perimeter shooting. They feed off their defense and need to be opportunistic, but they are vulnerable in close games that come down to half-court possessions. Still, their only loss came in a border battle with Marshall (Minn.), and they have senior leadership on their side. A semifinal clash with Brandon Valley is potentially troublesome, though Roosevelt ripped the Lynx 82-55 on the road back on Dec. 21. Chase Marso gives Brandon Valley hope, but the erstwhile quarterback would probably have to put up 40 for the Lynx to pull of the upset. On the other side of the bracket, I look for Pierre to assert itself as a team determined to claim its school’s first title since 1982. As Zach Hanson and Lane Severyn came up through the ranks, we kept hearing that the Governors were a team destined for big things, and now the time has arrived to make good on that promise. I look for Severyn to have a stellar tournament and lead Pierre to a thrilling semifinal win over the pesky Pats, who surprised a lot of doubters with their do-or-die regional win at Watertown. But this tournament is destined to come down to Roosevelt and Pierre, and I think the Riders will have just too many fresh legs and fast-moving parts for the Govs to handle once Saturday night rolls around.