Eight Class A boys basketball teams will punch their ticket to the state tournament tonight as the SoDak 16 commences.
The winners of the SoDak 16 games qualify for the State A boys basketball tournament on March 14-16 at the Premier Center in Sioux Falls.
Two area teams-Bon Homme and Winner Area-hope to be among the teams advancing to the state tournament and a quick preview of those games is below:
Winner-Hot Springs matchup could offer no shortage of offense
Winner was a mainstay at the state tournament during the first half of the decade-qualifying five times between 2010 and 2016-and are looking to return after a two-year hiatus, despite a No. 10 seed.
Standing in the way is No. 7 Hot Springs, which has a 19-3 record and looking for its first state tournament appearance since 1945.
Both teams were originally the No. 3 seed in their regions, with Winner advancing with a 62-57 win over No. 2 Red Cloud in the Region 7A semifinals and Hot Springs besting No. 2 Rapid City Christian, 57-52, in Region 8A.
The Warriors (16-5) must make a 3-plus-hour trek to Rapid City Stevens High School for the 7:30 p.m. Central contest, while the Bison have an hour to drive. Still, the game could provide some offensive fireworks.
Both teams enter the game averaging more than 60 points per game and have four capable scorers. Winner comes in having scored at least 60 in its last eight games and the only during that span came in a double-overtime contest at Crow Creek on Feb. 18.
The Warriors will also look to to fire away from beyond the 3-point line, where they make 6.9 per game. The scoring should be balanced as well, as four players average in double figures this season.
Brady Fritz, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, averages a team-high 15.9 points per game, while Brandon Volmer is averaging 12.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per night and Joren Bruun puts 11.4 points per game. Senior Shea Connot does a little of everything, posting 10 points, 4.1 rebounds and three assists per game, while connecting on 35 3-pointers this season, second only to Fritz's 52.
Hot Springs is led by 6-foot-6 junior Alex Bilbruck, who is a double-double candidate each night. Bilbruck is surrounded by four seniors that can score in double-digits on any given night in Morgan Harkless, Matt Norton, Kelton Harris and Thane Lockhart. This is Hot Springs' third-straight trip to the SoDak 16 round, falling as 14-seed last year to Sioux Valley 79-57 in Pierre, and dropping a 2017 contest at the Corn Palace as the 15-seed, a 67-30 decision to Madison.
Styles clash in Bon Homme-Pine Ridge tilt
The other area matchup offers a contrast in styles, as No. 13 Bon Homme (15-7) prefers a much slower pace to grind out games, while No. 4 Pine Ridge (17-3) plays a bit faster.
The Thorpes advanced to the SoDak 16 out of Region 7A with an 89-64 win over Little Wound, while the Cavaliers scored a 47-42 win against Platte-Geddes in Region 5A.
Pine Ridge shoots 57 percent from the floor, while Bon Homme connects on 41.3 percent of its shots, and the team that controls the pace could come out on top in a game that tips off at 6 p.m. in the Chamberlain Armory.
If the Cavaliers are to advance to their first state tournament since 1988, a big game is likely needed from do-it-all senior Joey Slama. The 6-foot-3 guard leads the team with 18.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.5 steals per game.
Bon Homme excels best on the defensive end, where opponents are shooting 28.7 percent from 3-point range and 38.9 percent overall. The Cavaliers also force 16.4 turnovers per game, with 8.6 coming from steals. The Cavaliers were seeded eighth last year in the SoDak 16, falling 59-50 to Dakota Valley in Yankton.
The Pine Ridge offense is led by 6-foot guard Halin Bad Bear, who scores a team-high 19.9 points per game, while 6-foot-3 forward Corey Brown puts up 11.4 points and 11 rebounds per outing. Charles Schrader-a 6-foot-2 wing player-also provides 9.1 points per game.
The Thorpes are seeking their fourth trip to the state tournament since 2013. As an 11-seed a year ago, Pine Ridge upset No. 6 Dell Rapids 69-66 in Winner to advance to state.