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Deal: It's time for some hoops

Bridgewater-Emery's Jamin Arend (2) goes up for a basket against White River's Jadice Morrison during the DWU/Culver's Classic last season at the Corn Palace. (Ryan Deal / Republic)

It's that time of year again.

You know what I am talking about, it's time for us to bundle up and pack tiny gyms across our great state for one reason: basketball.

From now until mid-March, basketball will be on the minds of coaches, fans and players to help us get through the harsh winter months. In my mind, it's the best time of the year and I know a lot of South Dakotans agree.

So to get everybody geared up for the next few months, here are some random notes and nuggets bouncing around in my basketball-crazed noggin:

Back for Mors

Last season, Yankton's Matthew Mors etched his name in South Dakota lore when he powered the Bucks to the Class AA state title—as a freshman. It will be interesting to see what Mors has in store for his sophomore campaign and how many people show up to watch the 6-foot-7 forward. It's not every year in South Dakota that we have a player of his caliber. So get out and watch Mors will you can. He plays in the Hoop City Classic on Dec. 28 at the Corn Palace and again on Feb. 15. Oh yeah, he's also been offered by Creighton, Iowa, Nebraska, TCU, Wisconsin, South Dakota State and South Dakota.

Back for More

The St. Thomas More girls basketball team has won six of the last seven Class A state titles, including the last five. The Cavaliers seem to lose future college basketball players every season, but reload each winter.

Can they make it six straight? That will be another storyline to track during the season. STM is No. 1 in the South Dakota Prep Media Basketball Poll, but watch out for Lennox and Winner, among others.

Also, STM will also play at the Hanson Classic at the Corn Palace on Jan. 12.

Tea Area among Class A favorites

The Tea Area boys basketball team has been a fun bunch to watch over the past three years and it should be again this season.

Powered by future Division I players Noah Freidel (Wright State) and Justin Hohn (University of California, Irvine), the Titans will be one of the hottest tickets in the state. They will make stops in Mitchell during the Hoop City Classic on Dec. 28 and again at the Hanson Classic on Jan. 19.

But before we get too far along, Class A boys are always loaded with talented teams and will be again this season. Dak-12 Conference foes Sioux Falls Christian and Tea Area have duked it out through the years and should again this season. Also, don't sleep on Pine Ridge, Red Cloud and St. Thomas More, among others.

Bridgewater-Emery ready for another run

Back to the "fun bunch to watch" category, the Bridgewater-Emery boys have been just that for the past three seasons in Class B.

The Huskies won it all in 2017 and took third last season. Now, the senior trio of Sawyer Schultz (a Dakota Wesleyan University commit), Jamin Arend and Carter Dye are back for one last run.

The trio is about as good as it gets in Class B and should once again be a blast to watch. The Huskies will again be regulars at the Corn Palace, as they will play five times at the venue.

Also in Class B, Clark/Willow Lake took second last season and all-state guard Jacob Prouty returns to pace the Cyclones. Also, keep an eye on White River, Sully Buttes and Timber Lake. Also, some of my sleepers in the class include: De Smet, Colome, Aberdeen Christian and Kimball/White Lake.

Ethan tops loaded Class B girls

The Ethan girls return everybody from last season's fourth-place team, highlighted by all-state pick Karly Gustafson.

The Rustlers have played in four straight Class B state tournaments and are among the favorites to contend for the crown this season.

Also, Warner and all-state standout Laurie Rogers will be among the contenders. Area teams—Tripp-Delmont/Armour and Avon—also return key players with state-tournament experience. Corsica-Stickney will also make some noise this season.

Also, make sure to keep an eye on White River. The Tigers have some new faces on the roster, including Class A all-stater and Todd County transfer Caelyn Valandra-Prue.