No. 1 STM, No. 2 Wagner to play todayClass A’s top-ranked St. Thomas More is playing No. 2 Wagner at today’s 29th annual Hanson girls’ basketball classic at the Corn Palace. This is the third time in three years the two teams have met at the Hanson Classic. The Red Raiders and the Cavaliers, both unbeaten, are playing the final game of the day at 8:30 p.m.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
Class A’s top-ranked St. Thomas More is playing No. 2 Wagner at today’s 29th annual Hanson girls’ basketball classic at the Corn Palace.
This is the third time in three years the two teams have met at the Hanson Classic. The Red Raiders and the Cavaliers, both unbeaten, are playing the final game of the day at 8:30 p.m.
Wagner (11-0) is averaging 64 points per game and features Northern State University recruit Devon Brecke, a senior who averages 24 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals per game. In the Red Raiders’ most recent game on Thursday, they picked up a win over District 10 rival and No. 5-ranked Parkston 65-55.
“We’re going to have to play mistake-free,” Wagner coach Mike Koupal said of today’s game. “We have to make sure we take care of our defense, and we’ll have to be patient on offense.”
St. Thomas More (10-0) stomped Custer 71-17 on Thursday. The team is coming off a fourth-place finish at last year’s state tournament and is led by senior Caitlin Duffy at 22 points per game. Duffy, a Division-I Colorado State recruit, scored 13 points in a game last year against Wagner.
Last year, the Cavaliers knocked off Wagner 45-43 at the Hanson Classic, winning on a last-second shot from Maddie Merriam, who’s a senior on this year’s roster. In 2010, the Red Raiders defeated St. Thomas More 40-25 in the first of three straight Hanson Classic games.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere,” Koupal said.
The eight-game Hanson Classic starts at 10 a.m. today with Madison playing Deuel. All games are at the Corn Palace.
In other games, Highmore-Harrold plays De Smet at 11:30; Scotland plays Corsica/Stickney at 1 p.m.; Mitchell Christian plays Hanson at 2:30 p.m.; Freeman plays Aberdeen Roncalli at 4 p.m.; Centerville plays Clark/Willow Lake at 5:30 p.m.; and Parkston plays Elkton-Lake Benton at 7 p.m.
Parkston lost to Clark/Willow Lake 64-51 at last year’s Hanson Classic.
This year, the Trojans (7-2) have lost to the state’s top two-ranked Class A teams, St. Thomas More and Wagner. Senior guard Marie Malloy is leading Parkston in scoring, averaging 24 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals per game. Elkton-Lake Benton (9-2) is receiving votes in the Class A poll.
Parkston coach Rob Van Laecken said Elkton-Lake Benton’s top threat is Cassidy Gebhart, a 5-foot-5 senior guard.
“You’ll probably see two of the quickest guards in the state,” Van Laecken said.
Hanson (7-3) is riding a three-game win streak into today’s meeting with Mitchell Christian (7-3). Since Dec. 16, the Beavers have won six of seven games, and their only loss was to Wagner.
“I think we’re starting to improve,” Hanson coach Jim Bridge said. “We had a nice win on Thursday against Parker. Our team is a work in progress, and we’re starting to come along.”
Freeman (6-2) lost its top scorer earlier this week in senior forward Carly Uecker and is playing Aberdeen Roncalli (6-3) today.
Uecker tore her ACL in a game against Bon Homme on Monday and is out for the season. Flyers head coach Ryan Mors said he expects Aberdeen Roncalli to play an up-tempo style of basketball.
“We changed the game plan as the week progressed with Carly being out,” Mors said. “We still have to continue to play, because no one is going to feel sorry for us.”
Admission for the classic, which is good for all of the games, is $8 for adults and $4 for students. All game times are approximate, and games will start 10 minutes following the conclusion of the previous game.