Chamberlain basketball teams thriving this seasonCHAMBERLAIN — Whether at home or on the road, the Chamberlain basketball teams love doubleheaders.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
CHAMBERLAIN — Whether at home or on the road, the Chamberlain basketball teams love doubleheaders.
Or at least their records prove so.
Five out of six times in which the girls play before the boys at the same venue against the same school, Chamberlain has swept the games.
“We have two quality teams to put on the floor,” Chamberlain girls’ coach Jeff Neuharth said. “ … I think we’re starting to get more and more people to come to our games that maybe haven’t come out in the past.”
That’s because basketball in Chamberlain is thriving this year. The girls’ team is 11-1 and on a nine-game winning streak, and the boys are 9-3 and are working to get back to their second consecutive state tournament.
“When you have doubleheaders, it brings a lot of people out to watch,” Chamberlain boys’ coach Allan Bertram said, “and I think our community has always done a good job supporting our programs. But this makes it easier for them to come out and watch when both teams are successful, and that makes for a nice experience for the kids. It’s really a reward for all the work they put in.”
Chamberlain’s boys’ program has experienced success in its history. It has made the state tournament 10 times, including last year’s seventh-place finish. In the last seven years, Chamberlain has been at state four times.
This season, junior guard Skyler Bertram leads the team in scoring at 14.8 points per game, senior forward Gage Basting is at 12 points and a team-best 7.9 rebounds per game and junior guard Reuben Estes averages 11.8 points per game. Coach Bertram said Hudson Priebe has been out with an ankle injury since the fourth day of practice, but the junior forward should be able to return for the final four games of the regular season and playoffs.
The Cubs’ three losses this year are to Miller, Lennox and Parkston, and Bertram said his team — which is guard-oriented — has had a tough night from the field in each of those games.
“Fortunately for the boys’ program, we’ve had a really good run over the last 10 or 11 years,” said Bertram, who’s in his 11th year at Chamberlain. “The girls’ program has always kind of struggled. The last couple years, the girls have improved and gotten better, and now it’s neat to see both teams come together and do well at the same time.”
The first time the boys’ and girls’ teams went on the road this year for a doubleheader, they each lost to Parkston by the same score, 49-46. The boys’ loss was in double overtime. Since that day, the teams have swept Winner, Scotland, Belle Fourche, Cheyenne-Eagle Butte and Gregory in doubleheaders.
“It’s been a fun environment to play in this year,” Bertram said of doubleheaders.
The last time the girls’ program has been a state-qualifying team was in 2005, when it took seventh place. The only other year the Chamberlain girls have made state was in 1990.
“It’s been a while since we’ve been as successful as we’ve been this year,” Neuharth said. “The girls are excited, but I don’t let them think any further than one game ahead.”
Neuharth took over the team three years ago, and the Cubs finished with six wins and were knocked out of the district tournament by Crow Creek in the first round. Last year they finished with 12 wins, but again were knocked out of the postseason in the first round by Crow Creek.
Since this year’s loss to Parkston, the girls have defeated both of their District 12A opponents in Crow Creek and Miller, making them the current favorite in the three-team district.
Kennedy Wagner’s 17 points per game leads the team in scoring. Abbey Handel is at 10 points per game, Logan Pickner is at nine points and eight rebounds, Jaymee Knippling is averaging 8.5 points and eight rebounds per game and Corrina Reuer is at eight points per game.
“Our points come from any player in any given night,” Neuharth said. “That’s what makes us hard to guard. We’ve had games where we shot the ball well and we’ve had games where our posts have done a nice job. It kind of comes and goes.”
Like most high school basketball teams, both Chamberlain programs have set a goal to get to the state tournament. Both teams have never made state in the same year, but Bertram said it would be great for the community if it happened this year.
“It would be a huge sense of pride,” he said. “It’s a way to tie the community together. I think for that to happen would just be phenomenal.”
Tonight, Chamberlain looks to keep its doubleheader success going. Both teams are traveling to play Mobridge-Pollock in Mobridge.