Scotland hoopsters riding high
On the Class B boys' basketball scene, Scotland has taken some people by surprise this season.
One could put the team's head coach in that column, as well.
The Highlanders are 6-0 and No. 5 in this week's South Dakota Sportswriters Association Class B boys' basketball poll. Scotland has already surpassed last season's win total, when it finished 5-15.
"Honestly, it's kind of taken me by surprise," Scotland coach Bryan Fuks said about the undefeated start.
Fuks, who was promoted to head coach after being the team's assistant for seven seasons, said the team didn't jell last season.
The Highlanders, led by six seniors and five juniors, have a different feel this season.
"Now this year, I don't know if it's that one more year of experience, maturity, but they have all come together," Fuks said.
It all starts with brothers Tanner and Travis Skorepa for the Highlanders. Tanner, a senior, stands 6-foot-6 and Travis, a junior, is 6-foot-5.
"It is huge when you have got two guys that you can throw the ball into and consistently they know what to do with the ball," Fuks said. "They are very smart players."
Tanner leads the team with 14.5 points per game, while Travis is just behind at 14 points a contest. Tanner averages 12.3 rebounds per game and Travis grabs 9.7 boards a game.
Stats aside, the towering brothers impose their size and cause fits for Class B teams on the defensive end.
"They really control the lane well for us," Fuks said. "They have such good size. I mean not just height, but their wingspan. You can put them block-to-block and they move well. They have great defensive footwork and ball awareness. They play great help-side defense and they really play well together."
The rest of the Highlanders have elevated their game to start the season. They have also found a balance between guards and post players.
"The past couple of games, we have really found that stride with that inside-outside game," Fuks said.
Point guard Bryan Vaughan (4.5 points per game), shooting guard Tanner VanDriel (9.7) and Chandler Diede (4.7) round out the starting unit. Fuks said Vaughan is also a lockdown defender, as is reserve Chase Mogck (5.0).
To date, Scotland has wins over Burke/South Central, Viborg-Hurley, Andes Central/Dakota Christian, Bon Homme, Gayville-Volin and Tripp-Delmont/Armour.
The Highlanders will continue to get tested as the season progresses. They will play last year's state runner-up Irene-Wakonda, rival Avon and will play in the Dakota State Classic. Scotland's schedule also includes Class A teams Wagner and Parkston, along with Class B Platte-Geddes. The Highlanders will play at Centerville tonight.
Fuks said as the schedule gets tougher, it will only benefit the team later in the season.
"That way a guy can gauge how our team is going to be," Fuks said.