The Quick Hitter: In each class, parity reigns for SD basketball
It may very well be the year of parity in South Dakota high school basketball.
We're less than a month out from the postseason getting underway and the six classes of play all appear to be without an absolute, clear-cut favorite.
That's pretty rare, because in most years there's at least one class that has a dominating power. For example, that's been St. Thomas More basketball in the last few years for Class A girls basketball but, while still a threat, they've already lost twice this season.
So let's take a quick rundown of the classes and outline just how hectic it is.
• Class AA boys: In a surprise, Rapid City Central and Rapid City Stevens have asserted themselves as the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked teams. The Cobblers' only loss came to Sioux Falls O'Gorman, which is the defending state champion and will likely be reckoned with before it's all over, even with a 7-8 record. Harrisburg is 11-2 and appears in line to win the Eastern South Dakota Conference, while Sioux Falls Lincoln and Sioux Falls Washington both lurk in the background for a state run. State runner-up from a year ago Aberdeen Central, Sturgis and Yankton are capable of getting hot.
• Class A boys: Like a year ago, when five Dakota 12 Conference teams made the state tournament and then dominated the semifinals and championship games, that might be the case again this season. Sioux Falls Christian is the only undefeated team left (13-0), while Madison (14-1) and Tea Area (8-5) are very talented. Sioux Valley is getting hot at 14-1 and Dakota Valley (10-3) and Dell Rapids (10-4) are threats. Bon Homme (11-2) is the local interest to potentially make the state tournament and Rapid City Christian (10-1) is the enigma, a mystery on just how good they are.
• Class B boys: In this week's media poll, Clark/Willow Lake, Bridgewater-Emery and Sully Buttes were the top three teams, which seems about right. But there's a litany of solid teams lurking out there. We profiled Region 5B last week, but Herreid/Selby Area is 15-1, joined by Warner (13-2) and Langford Area (11-3) as northeast teams to watch. White River (12-1) comes to the Corn Palace next week for the DWU Classic and Colome and Corsica-Stickney are both in Region 6B, both at 12-1. Even at 11-2, Sanborn Central/Woonsocket is a pretty good dark horse.
• Class AA girls: Aberdeen Central looks good at 13-1, with their only loss at Rapid City Stevens, which is 13-2 and also a tough squad. Sioux Falls Lincoln is 12-3 and with its only South Dakota loss to O'Gorman, which won the state title a year ago. Add in Brandon Valley and Harrisburg and those six teams in the class are the only teams with a winning record.
• Class A girls: St. Thomas More, as mentioned above, has lost two close games this season, including Tuesday night at Belle Fourche. The Broncs are undefeated at 16-0 and have a big win on their record now. McCook Central/Montrose is 15-1 and West Central is 13-2, as is Vermillion, Hamlin, Winner and Lennox at 14-2. It's crowded.
• Class B girls: With Warner knocking off defending state champions Sully Buttes on Saturday, Faith (17-0) and Waverly-South Shore (13-0) are the lone unbeatens. They're challenged by 15 teams with three losses or less. Just the local list includes Hanson (12-3), Ethan (13-2), Freeman (10-2), Avon (14-2), Corsica-Stickney (12-2), and Tripp-Delmont/Armour (11-2). It's hard to handicap any of this, even with three-fourths of the regular season in the books.
That's a long way of saying: In South Dakota, all the classes are there for the taking.