Full Court Press: Wolverines eye next step with experienced team

“It’s not something we talk a ton about, but it is a team we would like to take that next step,” HSA coach Steve Sawinsky said.

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Herreid/Selby Area described the end of last season as “heartbreaking.”

A 20-win season ended in the SoDak 16 to Highmore-Harrold, 53-49, a team it beat by 11 points earlier that month. The loss denied the Wolverines their first trip to the Class B girls state tournament as a co-op, igniting a fire to finally break through this year.

With an emphasis on improved defense and offensive rebounding, the Wolverines enter the final week of the regular season at 15-3, with their only Class B loss to No. 1 Corsica-Stickney, 64-53, on Friday at the DWU Classic. They also lost to Class A Aberdeen Roncalli and North Dakota’s Linton/Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock, which are a combined 30-4.

“It’s not something we talk a ton about, but it is a team we would like to take that next step,” HSA coach Steve Sawinsky said. “Last year, we had a heartbreaking loss at the end of the season. We brought this whole team back this year. They’ve been through some tough games. I know they’d like to take that next step.”


Herried/Selby's Jennica Berens grabs a rebound in front of Corsica-Stickney's Sutten Eide in a game during the DWU/Culver's Classic on Friday at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Herreid hasn’t made state since 2005 as a Herreid/Pollock co-op, while Selby Area last made it in 2004.

With a team featuring four senior starters, the Wolverines have the experience to punch the first state tournament trip in co-op history. The connections built over a decade playing together is the driving force behind their current success.

“It’s a huge relief since we’ve been playing with each other since third graders,” said HSA senior Rachel Fiedler, who will play volleyball at Dakota Wesleyan University next year. “We know each other well. We know how they play. Not having to reteach our plays was a huge help.”

The Wolverines are a slow-paced, grind-it-out team, one who hopes to get paint touches before firing up a shot and rely on an improving defense. The offensive philosophy derives from the desire to put more pressure on opposing defenses.

But to take the next step, Sawinsky preaches defense and offensive rebounding.

Corsica-Stickney exploited HSA’s zone early, finishing 11-for-20 from 3-point range and holding a 14-8 advantage on the offensive glass. But in the final three quarters, as it played more man defense and limited turnovers against Corsica-Stickney’s press, the Wolverines played the Jaguars to a stalemate. An 11-point first-quarter lead fluctuated, but HSA didn’t let it get to a blowout.

“In the locker room, we talked about how we haven’t played on this stage very often. It kind of looked that way the first quarter,” Sawinsky said. “It looked like this is maybe a little overwhelming. They’re more accustomed to being on this stage.”


Herried/Selby's Jennica Berens dribbles to the basket as Corsica-Stickney's Rachel Gerlach defends in a game during the DWU/Culver's Classic on Friday at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

HSA’s inside-outside game at times flourished at the Corn Palace, especially when 6-foot-4 Rylee Rossow received touches in the post. She finished with a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double, including four offensive rebounds.

“We call her ‘Our relief’ because if we’re in trouble, we just throw it to her,” Fiedler said.

The Wolverines’ next potential ranked opponent will come in the postseason. They finish the regular season against Potter County (4-11) and Northwestern (3-7), and according to Sawinsky, enter trending in the right direction, especially after getting their revenge against Highmore-Harrold in a 48-42 win on Feb. 6.

Soon, the improvements Sawinsky touted will be put to the test in another postseason run.

“One of the things we talked about going from last year to this year, we had some success last year, but if we were to make that jump to be a good to great (team), it was going to be defense and offensive rebounding,” he said. “I feel defensively, the last couple of weeks, we’ve played pretty good defense.”

-- Mitchell Republic sports reporter Jeremy Karll


Scott’s buzzer beater lifts White River over Winner

Colbe Scott drilled a 3-pointer to give White River a 70-68 boys boys basketball win over Winner on Tuesday. Scott finished with 15 points in the win.

White River’s Joe Sayler paced the Tigers with 35 points and five rebounds. Scott added 15 points, while Dylan Marshall tossed in 12 points and dished out three assists.

Dakota Wesleyan University commit Brady Fritz led the Warriors with 25 points.

Cheeseman jams two against Freeman

Hanson’s Ethan Cheeseman threw down a pair of dunks in an 81-27 win over Freeman on Tuesday.

Blue throws down first-career dunk

Freeman Academy/Marion’s Quincy Blue put down his first career dunk in a 30-point performance against Andes Central/Dakota Christian.

Barse, Sherman hit 1,000 career points

Corsica-Stickney’s Raven Barse and Viborg-Hurley’s Gradee Sherman scored their 1,000th career points.

CS-Herreid Girls23.JPG

Barse finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals in a 54-36 win over Kimball/White Lake.

Sherman hit the milestone in a 71-43 win over Parker.

Garry breaks De Smet scoring record

De Smet junior Kalen Garry became the program’s all-time leading scorer. He passed Matt Sutton, who scored 1,364 points between 1990-1994. Garry currently sits at 1,389 points.

Honor roll

Boys top performers

  • Dell Rapids St. Mary’s Ashaun Roach-Valandra erupted for 39 points in a 66-61 win over Howard on Thursday. Howard’s Sam Aslesen tossed in 31 points in the loss.

  • Arlington’s Ryker Erstad tossed in 36 points and 5 3-pointers in a 73-51 win over Lake Preston on Thursday.

  • Riley Endres paced Ethan with 27 points and 10 rebounds in a four-point win over Wagner on Monday.

  • Mount Vernon/Plankinton’s Reed Rus exploded for 30 points and nine rebounds on Thursday in a loss to Ethan.

  • White River’s Joe Sayler poured in 35 points and grabbed five rebounds to lead to a 70-68 buzzer-beating win over Winner. Brady Fritz scored 25 for Winner in a losing effort. Fritz had 34 points in a win over Pierre on Friday.

Girls top performers

  • Sioux Falls Christian’s Lexi Unruh netted a school-record 42 points in a 69-47 win over Tri-Valley on Tuesday. She set the previous record of 41 earlier this season.

  • Spearfish’s Stella Marcus scored 38 points in a 61-54 win over Custer on Thursday. She finished 10 of 20 from the field, 16 of 20 at the free-throw line and added two 3-pointers.

  • In a loss to Parkston on Tuesday, Scotland’s Grace Fryda posted 30 points and seven rebounds.

  • McCook Central/Montrose’s Madisen Koepsell posted a massive 21-point, 16-board double-double in a loss to West Central on Tuesday.

  • Sally Hakin poured in 26 points in Burke’s win over Bon Homme. On Friday at the Corn Palace, she added 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting.

  • Macy Koupal paced Wagner in a win over Tripp-Delmont/Armour, as she recorded 28 points, 15 rebounds and five assists.

  • Highmore-Harrold’s Letha Jessen recorded 26 points and 16 rebounds in a win over Sanborn Central/Woonsocket on Friday.

  • In White River’s win over Viborg-Hurley at the Corn Palace, Caelyn Vandra-Prue exploded for 46 points and 11 boards. She shot 11-for-21 from the field and made 23 of 24 free throws.
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