Aberdeen Central's Burckhard leads Class AA girls all-state team
On a team more concerned with winning than credit, sometimes it's hard to find a standout. Such was not the case with the Aberdeen Central girls basketball program, which bulldozed its way to a Class AA state championship earlier this month. The ...
On a team more concerned with winning than credit, sometimes it's hard to find a standout.
Such was not the case with the Aberdeen Central girls basketball program, which bulldozed its way to a Class AA state championship earlier this month.
The Golden Eagles set themselves on such a mission beginning at last season's state tournament when they finished third. And leading the way was senior Paiton Burckhard, who headlines the 2018 Class AA all-state squad.
Burckhard, who rounded up a bevy of accolades during and immediately following the state tournament, can add another to the list, as she was named as the Class AA Player of the Year and is one of six players on the first team all-state squad, as selected by the South Dakota Girls Basketball Coaches Association.
Joining Burckhard on the first team are Emma Ronsiek of Sioux Falls O'Gorman, Morgan Hansen of Sioux Falls Lincoln, Jeniah Ugofsky of Harrisburg, Danica Kocer of Brandon Valley and Emily Mikkelsen of Pierre. All but Mikkelsen were state tournament participants.
Burckhard, a South Dakota State signee and the lone senior on the first team list, averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds per game for the Golden Eagles despite being the centerpiece of opposing defensive schemes all season.
"Paiton was at her best this season and continues to improve as a player," said Central coach Dawn Seiler. "Her competitiveness and drive to succeed helped to lead us to a championship. She will be the first to tell you that her teammates helped to drive her and were critical to her individual and the team's success. Her athleticism is obvious, but it is her work ethic that makes her a great player. She doesn't take a play off in practice or in a game."
Ronsiek, a sophomore, proved to be a spark plug for O'Gorman, which stuttered out of the gates, going 2-4 in its first six games before finishing strong at the end. A 6-foot-1 guard/forward, Ronsiek averaged 19.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, while showing the ability to step out and hit from range when needed.
"Emma had a fantastic season," said O'Gorman coach Kent Kolsrud. "She can fill up a stat sheet in a hurry with her ability to score, rebound, pass, and create steals. She has a unique ability to score from the perimeter, dribble penetrate, and score in the post, playing any position on the court. We are very excited about her future and the leadership she provides to our team."
Morgan Hansen, another 6-foot-1 guard, paced Lincoln to a No. 2 seed in the state tournament and narrowly missed its first state championship game since 2013. Hansen tossed in 15.3 points and 6.7 points per game for the Patriots.
"Morgan is a special player because of her athleticism and length," said Lincoln coach Matt Daly. "She is also a very versatile player, being she's playing our wing and small forward spot at 6-1. She started 10 games last year as a freshmen, and filled in the scoring void left by Anna Brecht this year as a sophomore. Over her sophomore season, she improved many parts of her game - she became a more consistent shooter, she got physically stronger, she became the leading scorer on our team, she was our leading rebounder, and she also was second on the team in blocks this season. Morgan's speed and height allowed us to put four guards on the floor and play fast offensively, while still being able to defend teams that start multiple big posts."
Lincoln's dreams of a state title game showdown with Central were interrupted by sixth-seeded Harrisburg in the semifinals. Harrisburg, like most teams in the championship bracket, boasted multiple scoring weapons, but relied heavily on Ugofsky to get its offense rolling.
Ugofsky, a 6-foot junior forward, averaged 12.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game for the Tigers, who fell to Aberdeen Central in the state championship game.
"Jen has not only been our leading scorer and rebounder the past two seasons, she is our vocal and emotional leader as well," said Harrisburg coach Nick Mayer. "She comes to practice everyday with the mentality that she is going to improve some aspect of her game. She is incredibly coachable and has been a great leader to our high school kids and also to the youth of Harrisburg."
Kocer is a 5-foot-9 junior guard/forward who guided a dangerous Brandon Valley squad very nearly to an upset of Aberdeen Central in the state tournament semifinals. Kocer averaged 12.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per game for the Lynx, while tying the school record for 3-pointers made in a season.
Her perimeter play, said Brandon Valley coach Mark Stadem, opened up the Lynx playbook.
"Danica is a very intelligent and tough basketball player," Stadem said. "She works very hard on her game and is one of the handful of players (along with second-team selection Trinity Law) who stays after practice everyday to put in extra work. One of the areas where Danica grew the most this season was in her leadership. She was one of our captains, and she did a great job this year of reaching out and making connections with some of our younger players."
Rounding out the first team is Pierre's Mikkelsen, who guided the Governors to a 9-11 season and just missed out on a state tournament berth.
Mikkelsen, a 5-foot-4 guard, averaged 15.3 points per game while shooting nearly 30 percent from the perimeter.
"Emily has been a focal point (for our team) for three years, but exactly how she has had to fill her role has varied in each year," said Pierre coach Scott DeBoer. "In addition to her basketball skills she brings a level of poise to any situation we are in that is unique to the high school level. This tends to be a theme with All-State caliber kids, but she's also the kid in our program who puts the most time into developing herself as a player and works to set an example in and out of the season."
Michaela Jewett of Brookings, Trinity Law of Brandon Valley, Kyah Watson and Lexus Eagle Chasing of Rapid City Stevens, Brook Janz of Sturgis and Taylor VanderVelde of Sioux Falls Washington were all named to the second team all-state squad.
Class AA Girls Basketball All-State
*Paiton Burckhard, Sr., Aberdeen Central - 25 ppg, 11 rpg, 2 blks/gm
Emma Ronsiek, So., Sioux Falls O'Gorman - 19.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 33 pct 3FG, 40 stls, 22 blks
Morgan Hansen, So., Sioux Falls Lincoln - 15.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 31 stls
Jeniah Ugofsky, Jr., Harrisburg - 12.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 32 stls, 19 blocks
Danica Kocer, Jr., Brandon Valley - 12.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 47 pct 3FG
Emily Mikkelsen, Jr., Pierre - 15.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, 2.2 spg
Michaela Jewett, Jr., Brookings - 12.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg
Trinity Law, Jr. Brandon Valley - 11.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg
Kyah Watson, So., Rapid City Stevens - 9.2 ppg, 5 rpg
Lexus Eagle Chasing, Sr., Rapid City Stevens - 11.4 ppg, 3 rpg
Brook Janz, Sr., Sturgis - 15.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg
Taylor VanderVelde, Sr., Sioux Falls Washington - 11.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg