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Prep Focus: Witte showcasing all-around talents on hardwood

WESSINGTON SPRINGS -- Even after long wrestling practices, John Witte always found himself shooting hoops. The Wessington Springs senior had decided to give wrestling another try at the start of the winter season, but after nearly a month, he dec...

Wessington Springs' John Witte dribbles the ball up the court during a prep boys basketball game against Kimball/White Lake on Tuesday in White Lake. (Eric Mayer / Republic)
Wessington Springs' John Witte dribbles the ball up the court during a prep boys basketball game against Kimball/White Lake on Tuesday in White Lake. (Eric Mayer / Republic)

WESSINGTON SPRINGS - Even after long wrestling practices, John Witte always found himself shooting hoops.

The Wessington Springs senior had decided to give wrestling another try at the start of the winter season, but after nearly a month, he decided to switch back to the hardwood.

"It was my senior year and I had to ask myself: 'What do I really enjoy?'" said Witte, who compiled an 11-6 record on the mat. "I felt like basketball was the right decision."

Witte, a 6-foot-1 guard, had an instant impact for the Spartans. After starting the season 1-11, Wessington Springs went 3-2 in its next five games after Witte returned.

"He was a big addition," Wessington Springs head coach Alan Walls said. "We were missing the dribble penetration and the ability to kick the ball out. He brought that and it opened a lot of things up for everybody."

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While there was some adjusting back to basketball, Witte had already been a regular contributor for the Spartans as a sophomore and junior. He's reached double figures four times since returning, including a 36-point output against Class A Miller on Feb. 8.

"I hit two threes back-to-back to start the game and I got a rhythm," Witte said. "I just kept shooting because I was making them."

Walls said Witte's leadership has helped the team play with a higher intensity.

"He gets the guys to play a little more physical. He demands more out of them, which is great," Walls said. "He sees the floor phenomenally. He can find the open person or drive into the lane and make a layup."

Walls pointed to Witte as a perfect example of an all-around, three-sport athlete. He noted how Witte has passion and success in every sport he competes in. For the Wessington Springs/Woonsocket/Sanborn Central football team, Witte helped the Blackhawks to the Class 11B semifinals. He was named an all-state running back after rushing for 1,775 yards on 239 carries with 26 touchdowns, while adding 251 receiving yards. He finished his career with 3,997 yards from scrimmage and 57 touchdowns.

Along with football, Witte competes in baseball during the warmer months and added he's a fan of all sports.

"If you ask me what my favorite sport is during basketball season, I'd say basketball. If you ask me during football (season), I'd say football," Witte said, adding he's undecided on his post-high school plans. "It's whatever sport I'm in at the moment."

But as the basketball season wraps up, Witte said he wants the Spartans to be playing their best basketball.

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"I don't want to go out in my senior year losing to someone we shouldn't," Witte said. "If we play to the best of our abilities and lose, then that's sometimes how it goes. I want us to go out with our best effort."

Wessington Springs plays James Valley Christian on Friday in Huron.

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