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Full Court Press: Rylee Rosenquist's Dakota Valley Panthers are off to their best start in program history

The Mitchell Republic’s weekly web-exclusive look at high school basketball in South Dakota.

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Dakota Valley's Rylee Rosenquist celebrates a play against Corsica-Stickney on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021 during a game in the Parkston Classic at the Parkston Armory. Matt Gade / Mitchell Republic
Matt Gade
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NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. — There wasn't a better way to start the 2021-22 season for the Dakota Valley Panthers.

The Panthers have begun this season with an 9-0 record, its best start in school history. And the player most responsible for helping Dakota Valley reach new heights senior is Rylee Rosenquist.

Through the first nine games, Rosenquist is averaging 26.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 3.6 steals. In her senior campaign, the 5-foot-8 guard is shooting 54 percent from the field and 43 percent from the 3-point line.

Rosenquist has tallied four double-doubles this season, including a career-high 37 points and 15 rebound performance in the first game of the new year for the Panthers. She scored more than half of the team’s points as they went on to defeat Sergeant Bluff-Luton (Iowa), 65-59.

“Rylee is just very focused and she comes in every single day ready to work,” Dakota Valley head coach Tammy Lilly said. “She leads by example and when she’s working hard out there, she expects everyone to come right with her.”

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Action between Corsica-Stickney and Dakota Valley during a game on Tuesday in the Parkston Classic at the Parkston Armoury. Matt Gade / Mitchell Republic
Matt Gade

Rosenquist’s performances this season have not been anything new to Dakota Valley. She’s been a part of the varsity girls basketball team since her eighth-grade year. During her eighth-grade season, she had a season-high of 17 points, and the next season as a freshman, Rosenquist recorded her first double-double in the first game of the year, as she scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

Since that point, Rosenquist has accumulated 27 double-doubles for her career. During her junior year, she averaged 21.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.6 steals, and fell just one assist shy on two separate occasions of having her first career triple-double. During the 2021 Class A state tournament, she broke Dakota Valley’s all-time scoring record of 1,229 points, previously held by Peyton Wingert, who went on to play basketball at Midland University.

Rosenquist feels she’s taken her biggest leap as a player coming into her senior year because of the work she put in this summer. She worked out with Dakota Valley and the rest of her teammates as many as four days a week and also played AAU basketball with South Dakota Attack. Her 3-point percentage has risen from 25 percent last year to 43 percent this season.

“I worked on my jump shot a lot this offseason with my AAU coaches on South Dakota Attack,” Rosenquist said. “Playing against different competition and being around that every day helped me. I’ve always been an aggressive player so I try to get to the rim and get high percentage shots, but working on my jump shot as much as I did opened my game even more.”

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Dakota Valley's Rylee Rosenquist shoots over West Sioux's Megan Waterman during a high school girls basketball game on Monday, Jan. 18 at Dakota Valley High School. (Courtesy photo from Gene Knudsen of Knudsen Photography)

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The weight of a college decision has also been relinquished for Rosenquist, picking Dakota Wesleyan University in December. DWU head coach Jason Christensen said he couldn’t have been more ecstatic about getting a player of Rosenquist’s caliber.

“We watched her play a lot during her school season and with her AAU teams and we were just fortunate to get her to sign,” Christensen said. “She’s a complete all-around player. Her court vision is something that sticks out to me. The way she sees the floor and makes the players around her better is incredible. She also has the ability to take games over and she’s just a great kid on and off the floor.”

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Sitting beside coaches Tammy Lilly, left, and Jason Christensen, right, Dakota Valley's Rylee Rosenquist, center, signs her letter of intent to play basketball at Dakota Wesleyan University Thursday, Jan. 6 at Dakota Valley High School.

Now with Rosenquist completely focused on her senior year with the Panthers, the fast-paced Dakota Valley team has some areas of improvement they need to dial in, according to Lilly. Lilly said the Panthers — who were sixth a season ago in Class A — need to be more careful with the ball and improve on their shot selection. Last season was DV's second state tournament appearance in school history.

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Action between Corsica-Stickney and Dakota Valley during a game on Tuesday in the Parkston Classic at the Parkston Armory. Matt Gade / Mitchell Republic
Matt Gade

“We like to run the floor and we’re just working on cleaning that up and making sure we reduce our turnovers," Lilly said. "We want to play fast offensively and defensively, so we know we’re going to give up a lot of possessions, but we want to make sure we secure each and every one of our possessions and improve on our shooting percentages.”

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The Panthers have already passed a few key regular-season tests, defeating Class B No. 2 Corsica-Stickney on Dec. 28, 67-66, and topping a well-regarded Viborg-Hurley team on Jan. 7, 71-55. As of Jan. 10, the undefeated Panthers are one of seven remaining undefeated teams in Class A girls basketball.

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Howard's Luke Koepsell, center, drives to the basket past Freeman Academy/Marion's Quincy Blue in a Hoop City Classic boys basketball game on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic

With new core, Howard boys find successes again

The Howard boys basketball team came into the 2021-22 season with a few questions to answer, starting with how they would replace guard Tisyn Spader and forward Sam Aslesen.

Both helped lead a renaissance of Howard basketball and members of Dakota Wesleyan's men's basketball program. But Howard, which has had 16- and 19-win seasons the last two years after deep struggles in years prior, has no intent to step back from working to the top of Class B basketball.

Early in the new season, the Tigers have met the challenge, starting 5-1. The most impressive of those wins came at the Hoop City Classic, where they beat fellow upstart Freeman Academy/Marion 56-53 on Dec. 29.

"We have a group that we're learning and growing with every time we're on the court," Howard coach Nick Koepsell said. "They're doing a good job of playing hard and playing together for us."

The Tigers have had a mix of players with varying experience step forward. Seniors Brayden Hinker and Jace Sifore have been key upperclassmen, along with junior Ryder Erickson. Six-foot-six sophomore Kolt Koepsell and 6-foot-3 freshman Luke Koepsell have each been starters for the Tigers as well, with Will Maier, Taiden Hoyer and Colby Claussen coming off the bench.

"We're still figuring things out and everyone is trying to step into a role that is a little different for them," coach Koepsell said. "We're still a relatively young team but I think it's going to be one of those things where we're going to get better and better with each game and it's exciting to think about where we could be at the end of the year if we keep progressing."

Winners of their last four games, Howard will have some challenging games ahead, starting with a Jan. 11 contest at home against No. 1-ranked De Smet. They will also face Hanson, Bridgewater-Emery and Ethan in a 11-day span in late January, with those teams holding a combined record of 15-6.

Region 4B includes both Ethan and Bridgewater-Emery, an undefeated Oldham-Ramona/Rutland squad, 2021 state qualifiers Dell Rapids St. Mary and Canistota as the primary contenders in March.

"We know we're in a really good region and we're going to have to play some really good teams," coach Koepsell said. "We want to prepare ourselves and continue to improve."

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Lennox's Porter Ihnen holds the ball during a game against Pine Ridge on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022 at the Sacred Hoops Classic at the Corn Palace. Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic

Honor roll

Boys top performers

  • Gregory’s Daniel Mitchell had 24 points and nine rebounds in the 63-36 win over Andes Central/Dakota Christian on Tuesday. He followed that performance up with 24 points and eight rebounds in a loss to Lyman on Thursday.

  • Porter Ihnen outscored the opposition by himself, as the Lennox sophomore racked up 45 points — including 41 in the first half and 25 in the second quarter alone — in a runaway boys basketball win at the Sacred Hoops Classic on Saturday. The big day was without a 3-pointer, all two-point shots and free throws.

  • Carson Timmins of Elk Point-Jefferson went 11-for-15 from the field for 23 points as the Huskies defeated Canistota 64-35 on Tuesday evening.

  • In a win at home, Milbank’s Garrett Mertens scored 25 points on 10-for-12 shooting in a 66-56 win over Clark/Willow Lake on Thursday.

  • Isaac Bruns paced Dakota Valley with 31 points and seven rebounds in a 56-46 win over LeMars, Iowa on Thursday.

  • Caden Foxley of Platte-Geddes had 18 points and 13 rebounds in the 50-47 win at home over Corsica-Stickney on Thursday.

  • Bon Homme’s Riley Rothschadl exploded for 23 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists on Friday in a win against Wagner. Toby Zephier had 20 points, eight rebounds and four steals in the loss.

  • Jay Storm’s 22 points and 13 rebounds led Ethan past Wessington Springs with a 62-55 win on Friday. Mason Schelske scored 23 points in the loss for the Spartans.

  • Vermillion’s Charlie Ward notched 24 points to help the Tanagers earn their fifth win of the season on Friday.

  • Kalen Garry powered De Smet with 26 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in a 82-53 win over Arlington on Friday.

  • Deuel’s Cooper Schiernbeck recorded 30 points in the Cardinals 84-61 win Friday over Redfield.

  • Kyle Virtue of Custer scored 22 points in an overtime win over Parkston during the Sacred Hoops Classic on Saturday.

  • Corsica-Stickney’s Tyson Wentland had 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in a home win over Wagner on Saturday. He also had 20 points and 11 rebounds earlier in the week against Platte-Geddes.

Girls top performers

  • Tripp-Delmont/Armour’s Megan Reiner recorded 39 points, nine rebounds and five steals in a 61-47 win over Kimball/White Lake on Tuesday.

  • Emma Yost had 22 points and 12 rebounds in Wagner’s win over Sioux Falls Christian on Tuesday. Yost also scored 23 points on Friday to lead the Red Raiders, who have started 6-0.

  • Bella Swedlund of Winner notched 30 points for the Warriors in a 63-42 win over Chamberlain on Tuesday night. She followed that performance up with 23 points and six rebounds in a win against Gregory on Saturday.

  • Howard’s Abby Aslesen scored a game-high 24 points in a 56-48 loss to Sanborn Central/Woonsocket on Thursday night.

  • Viborg-Hurley’s Coral Mason had 23 points and 10 rebounds in a double-overtime win over Hanson on Thursday.

  • Emilee Fox’s 25 points, six rebounds and seven assists led Mount Vernon/Plankinton to a 64-37 win over Tri-Valley on Thursday.

  • Hannah Bartscher of Ethan carried the scoring load as she had 33 of the team’s 52 points, along with five rebounds and five steals in a home victory over Avon on Thursday.

  • West Central’s Rylee Haldeman had 23 points to help keep the Trojans perfect season alive in a 59-34 win over White River on Saturday. Maleighya Estes, a Dakota Wesleyan basketball commit, scored 26 of White River’s 34 points in the loss.

  • Kate Miller’s 27 points on 11-for-16 shooting and 15 rebounds led Freeman past St. Francis Indian during the Dakota State University Classic on Saturday.

  • Irene-Wakonda’s Nora O’Malley took home game MVP honors of the Dakota State University Classic on Saturday as she scored 16 points on 7-for-15 shooting and snatched 14 rebounds in a 46-28 win over Lemmon.

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Winner's Blake Volmer (24) shoots an uncontested jump shot during the second half of a Sacred Hoops Classic contest against Madison on Jan. 8, 2022, at the Corn Palace. Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

Classic catchup

ICYMI: The Hanson Classic pairings for Saturday, Jan. 15 with nine girls games were announced. Our staff breaks them down here.

Classic action took place Saturday at the Corn Palace, in Madison and in Redfield. Read all about it here.

Three to watch this week

Keep an eye on these games over the next few days:

  • Two of Class AA top teams face off on Monday, Jan. 10 as girls No. 1 Sioux Falls Washington hosts No. 3 Sioux Falls O’Gorman. Washington is 5-0 so far this season and O’Gorman has one loss on the season, which was a four-point loss to No. 2 Brandon Valley.

  • On Tuesday, Jan. 11, boys Class A No. 4 Winner hosts Class AA No. 3 Pierre T.F. Riggs. Winner has won each game at home this season by an average of 25.5 points but the undefeated Warriors will take a step up in class against the Governors and talented guard Lincoln Kienholz.

  • Two unbeatens take the court as girls Class A No. 3 West Central (7-0) takes on Class A No. 5 Dakota Valley (9-0) at Dakota Valley on Tuesday, Jan. 11. West Central defeated Dakota Valley at home last season 59-47.
Branden is a sports reporter that graduated from Purdue University Northwest with a bachelor's degree in communications and a focus in journalism. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 and covers prep and collegiate athletics. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Full-Court Press, providing a weekly web-exclusive look at high school basketball throughout all of South Dakota. Branden can be reached at bhull@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @bhullreports.
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