Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.
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KIMBALL -- The way Jesse Taylor finishes games is reminiscent of famous Indiana prep star Jimmy Chitwood, according to Kimball/White Lake boys' basketball coach Kamden Miller. A senior at Kimball High School, Taylor always wants the ball to close out games. When describing Taylor, Miller even quoted Chitwood, who knocked down a game-winning shot to help his team win the 1954 Indiana state high school basketball championship that inspired the movie Hoosiers. " 'I'll make it,' " Miller said, referring to Chitwood's infamous line in the movie that also coincides with Taylor's mindset.
College basketball players are still hitting the court and so is Kelly Pfeifer. Pfeifer, of Mitchell, recently refereed two NCAA Division I College Insider Tournament games Tuesday and Wednesday in Chicago and Youngstown, Ohio. This is Pfeifer's third year of refereeing Division I-level games and the postseason games rank at the top for him. "The intensity is higher and there is more pressure," he said. "Teams are wanting to stay alive and everything gets elevated." Pfeifer, who played basketball for the Mitchell Kernels and Dakota Wesleyan Tigers, got into reffing in 2004.
The Mitchell High School boys' tennis team has had one practice outside since it started its season March 11, making it hard for head coach Pat Moller to mold his varsity lineup. "When you have 11 guys on one court, it's difficult to see where they're going to end up," said Moller, whose team is practicing at Puetz Construction's indoor court. The Kernels' first scheduled match of the season was today against Huron and St. Thomas More, but because of cold temperatures it has been postponed to April 5 and will be held at Hitchcock Park in Mitchell.
WINNER -- Jayd Docken's journey to earning All-American status was "bitter sweet." The Augustana College sophomore went 2-0 on the first day of NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships, which was last weekend in Birmingham, Ala., before finishing the tournament 2-3 and in sixth place. "The first day I did well and fell off the next day," Docken said. "It feels good to be an All-American but it's not how you want to end the year." The Winner native is Augustana College's 110th All-American and the 42nd wrestler to earn All-American status under head coach Jason Reitmeier.
Mitchell senior Seth Cavanaugh was named to the all-Eastern South Dakota Conference first team. The all-conference selections are voted on by ESD coaches and they can't vote for their own players. "I'm happy for him because he had to battle through health issues during the year and he was a real key to the victories we had this year," Mitchell coach Tom Young said. "He was a great leader out on the floor and has athleticism." The senior led the Mitchell High School boys' basketball team in scoring, averaging 13.8 points per game this season.
Two area players earned spots all-tournament team status at the state boys' basketball tournaments this weekend. Platte-Geddes' Coby Johnson was selected in the Class A tournament in Rapid City and South Central's Tyler Frank was named to the team in the Class B tournament in Aberdeen. Johnson averaged a double-double in the tournament, recording 18.3 points per game and 10 rebounds per game.
ABERDEEN -- South Central's second-half turnovers led to a 64-51 loss to Dupree in the third-place game of the Class B state boys' basketball tournament at the Barnett Center on the Northern State University Campus in Aberdeen. "That's what really caused the difference in the ballgame," said South Central head coach Clayton Steele, whose team finished the season 22-4 overall. "We were pretty much controlling the game until we started turning the ball over, and we can't afford to do that.
ABERDEEN -- For Sen. John Thune, it makes sense to come to the Class B state boys' basketball tournament. The annual tournament allows Thune to watch high quality basketball, come back to his roots and interact with South Dakotans. "I've always liked the 'B' tournament," said Thune, a Murdo native. "It's a lot of our smaller communities across South Dakota and that's where I grew up.
ABERDEEN -- South Central struggled against top-seeded White River's defense, suffering an 86-55 defeat in the semifinal round of the Class B state boys' basketball tournament Friday at the Barnett Center on Northern State University's campus in Aberdeen. The Tigers forced 28 turnovers in the game and only committed nine themselves. "We knew going in that they were a very quick team and their quickness bothered our kids," South Central coach Clayton Steele said.
Derek Robey, a Mitchell native, is being recognized by the South Dakota High School Coaches Association this weekend for dedicating 25 years to helping student-athletes. Robey, who played for the Mitchell Kernels under then-coach Gary Munsen, began his coaching career as head coach of the Aberdeen Roncalli girls' basketball team in 1987. Four years later, he became the head coach of the Aberdeen Central girls' team.