Full-Court Press: Impressive start to the season only the start for West Central girls
Trojans off to impressive 4-0 start
West Central simply wants to play top-notch teams.
To start this girls basketball season, the Trojans have done just that. Their 4-0 start couldn’t have been scripted much more difficult than a pair of Class AA schools and Class A powerhouse Winner, which was on a 49-game win streak when West Central pulled the 53-43 upset on Dec. 18.
Along with wins over Huron (88-81, in overtime), Watertown (53-30) and Mount Vernon/Plankinton (57-45), the Trojans have found ways to win against several play styles to vault them to No. 2 in the latest prep media poll.
“We just like to play the best competition that’s out there,” said West Central coach Joe Caffrey, who has scheduled Watertown the past two seasons. “It’s kind of fun to play those bigger schools and someone we don’t see all the time. It’s definitely more fun. The girls get up for it.”
West Central has risen to every challenge. It needed to win a shootout to top Huron, played in a physical, defensive battle against Watertown and saw a mixture of both the Class AA schools against MVP and Winner. Each time, the Trojans came out on top.
They gained an extra two seed points by playing Watertown and Huron, but on the court, they showed they’re not susceptible to one style of play.
“You play hard, do what we do in practice,” Caffrey said. “Nobody needs to do anything out of the ordinary. Just rely on team play and get it done as a team.”
That’s the message Caffrey told his team against the previously-unbeaten Warriors. He didn’t want anyone trying to play hero ball. He just wanted his team to stick to its practice habits.
Led by University of Sioux Falls commit Cassidy Siemonsma’s 18 points, the Trojans did what none of the previous 49 teams could do -- beat Winner. Josslin Jarding also scored 13 points, while Addy Kramer finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
“It’s always a little more motivation when you have something like that in front of you,” Caffrey said. “It’s easier to get the girls up and excited for something like that.”
The Trojans aren’t ready to hang a banner for a 4-0 start, though. They know what it takes to make a deep run in the state tournament, with a runner-up finish in 2019 and third place in 2018. West Central didn’t make the state tournament last season.
Caffrey wants to see better communication on the court, along with improved decision making and shooting.
And like its first four games, West Central will continue having to earn its undefeated record. It faces Class B No. 4 White River on Jan. 2 at the Corn Palace.
That’s welcomed, however. The Trojans want to play the best teams. And they know, this is just the beginning.
“We just want to stay grounded,” Caffrey said. “We haven’t arrived yet.”
Mitchell Republic sports reporter Jeremy Karll
Determan, Ortman hit milestones
The 1,000-point club recently added a few new members. Who did we miss? Let us know at email@example.com.
Gregory’s Coy Determan and Canistota’s Tyce Ortman both recently scored their 1,000th career points. Determan reached the milestone in Gregory’s 76-43 win over North Central. A 6-foot-2 junior guard, Determan finished with 30 points and five assists in the win.
Ortman reached the milestone on Dec. 17. The senior guard finished with 25 points, six steals and three assists in Canistota’s 73-18 win over Freeman.
Kieffer pours in 41 points, scores 1,000th career point
Rapid City Christian’s Olivia Kieffer had a night to remember on Dec. 18.
The sophomore guard erupted for 41 points as the Comets down Lyman 85-28 in girls basketball action. The 5-foot-10 Kieffer scored her 1,000th career point in the contest.
Kieffer, who was a third-team all-stater last season, also has games of 25 and 28 points this season. The Comets (2-1) play Class A No. 1 St. Thomas More (4-0) on Jan. 2.
Unruh scores school-record 41 points
Sioux Falls Christian’s Lexi Unruh shot her way into the school record books on Dec. 19.
The senior guard exploded for a school-record 41 points in SFC’s 59-39 win over Clark/Willow Lake.
Unruh, a 6-foot senior guard, will play basketball next season at Creighton University. She missed last season with an ACL injury, but was an all-state selection as a sophomore.
She also holds SFC’s single-season record with 93 steals in 2018-19. She already holds the school record for most career steals.
SFC Lady Chargers with the 59-39 victory over Clark/Willow Lake! @lexi_unruh with a school record 41 points! pic.twitter.com/ym8imDq0kp— SFC HOOPS (@sfchoops) December 20, 2020
Rentz’s shot lifts Dell Rapids over Tea Area
Colin Rentz hit a late shot to cap off a 12-point fourth-quarter rally for Dell Rapids on Dec. 19. Rentz, who finished with 29 points, scored as time expired to give the Quarriers a 67-65 win over the Titans. He added seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Connor Rentz finished with 17 points. Tea Area’s Cael Lundin led all scorers with 32 points, along with five rebounds, and four assists for the Titans.
LETS GOOOOOOO @ColinRentzzzz🔥🔥 My guy with the clutch bucket. Big Time Players Make Big Time Plays! #Q #sdpreps @RyanDeal_DR @Brian_Haenchen pic.twitter.com/ACk8ZvCWDn— Coach Kahler🏀 (@GK_1423) December 19, 2020
Top boys performers
Gregory’s Daniel Mitchell posted a 33-point, 13-rebound double-double in a 76-43 win over North Central (Neb.) on Tuesday.
Sioux Valley’s Oliver Vincent netted 32 points in a win over Beresford on Tuesday. He added 27 points in a win over Sisseton on Monday.
Stratton Eppard finished with 30 points and eight rebounds in Chester Area’s 53-48 win over McCook Central/Montrose on Tuesday.
De Smet’s Kalen Garry continued to pour in the points. The junior guard had had 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists against Dell Rapids St. Mary on Monday, while adding 30 points against Estelline/Hendricks on Tuesday.
White River’s Joe Sayler tossed in logged 26 points and 10 rebounds in a 68-60 win over Custer on Saturday. Dylan Marshall added 21 points for the Tigers.
McIntosh’s Zach Bertolotto scored 32 points in a win over South Border (N.D.) on Saturday.
Mitchell’s Zane Alm logged 27 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots in a 50-49 win over Rapid City Stevens on Saturday.
Top girls performers
Timber Lake’s Shay Kraft recorded 22 points in a 56-19 win over Strasburg-Zeeland, North Dakota, on Saturday.
Ipswich’s Halle Heinz recorded 35 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals on Friday. She erupted for a school-record 37 points, while adding six rebounds, eight assists and seven steals on Saturday.
Flandreau’s Claire Sheppard logged 20 points and 11 boards in a 57-52 overtime win over Colman-Egan on Saturday. Colman-Egan's Josie Mousel had 27 points and eight rebounds.
Castlewood’s Alayna Benike recorded 23 points and six boards in a 50-48 win over Hamlin on Saturday.
Hadley Carlson erupted for 29 points and 15 rebounds in Arlington’s 41-40 victory over Milbank on Saturday.
Rapid City Central’s Jordon Heckert finished with 32 points (6 3-pointers) and six rebounds in a 65-54 win over Huron.
White River’s Caelyn Valandra-Prue posted 24 points in a 63-30 victory over Custer on Saturday. Maleighya Estes added 16 points for the Tigers.
Centerville’s Haley Meyer (30 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals) led the Tornadoes to a 73-50 win over Iroquois/Doland.
Tea Area’s Katie Vasecka erupted for 31 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in an 80-79 overtime win over McCook Central/Montrose on Tuesday. MCM’s Madisen Koepsell finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.