Analysis: Girls’ region basketball standings take shape at season's midpoint
Class A, B basketball teams at halfway point of their schedules
The South Dakota high school basketball season is at the midway point, with plenty of teams halfway through their schedules.
That means the postseason picture is beginning to take shape, with the goal of reaching the SoDak 16 and the state basketball tournaments in March.
With the playoffs set to begin on Feb. 21 and Feb. 22, here’s a breakdown of where things stand in the area girls basketball regions of note in Class A and Class B:
(All records are prior to Tuesday’s games. A breakdown of the boys' regions will appear in an upcoming edition of the Mitchell Republic.)
A look at the top teams: West Central stands firmly in the driver’s seat in the region standings, with a record of 13-1. Sioux Falls Christian (9-3) leads the race for the No. 2 spot in the standings, followed by Garretson at 6-6. The region’s lone Mitchell-area team, McCook Central/Montrose, is 2-9 and in the seventh slot in the eight-team region.
How we got here? West Central affirmed its bonafides in this region with a 64-57 win over Sioux Falls Christian on Jan. 24. They were also 3-1 two weeks ago in a key stretch against other top teams in the class (defeating Dakota Valley and St. Thomas More and losing to Wagner) and topping Crofton, Nebraska. Entering Tuesday, they were also the only team to defeat Mount Vernon/Plankinton this season. The Chargers only have two losses to in-state opponents, those coming to Wagner and West Central, and both Sioux Falls Christian and West Central can consider themselves as battle-tested as anyone.
Looking ahead to March: West Central is in an enviable position, with 70% of its 20-game schedule already in the books and holding a 13-1 record. It is No. 2 in overall seed points in Class A, putting them in good position at the top of a potential draw in the SoDak 16. Sioux Falls Christian is 14th overall in the state, potentially putting the Chargers among the lower-seeded teams in a potential SoDak 16 but certainly among the dangerous potential opponents for a higher-seeded opponent.
A look at the top teams: Region 5A has a substantial claim to the title of toughest region in the state, as six of the seven programs own records of 8-3 or better as of Jan. 24, led by Class A No. 1-ranked Wagner (10-0). Behind the Red Raiders, Parkston (10-2), Mount Vernon/Plankinton (8-1), Hanson (9-3), Sanborn Central/Woonsocket (9-3) and Andes Central/Dakota Christian are jockeying for position and remain close enough to capitalize should Wagner falter down the stretch.
How we got here? Wagner has rolled through the first half of its schedule, defeating teams by an average of more than 24 points per game and headlined by back-to-back 28-point wins over Class A No. 2 West Central and regional rival Parkston. MVP isn’t far behind either of the top two with a 23-point average margin of victory. The Titans only loss came on Dec. 14 against West Central, after which they’ve reeled off seven-straight wins. Hanson and SCW have also strung together wins over the past several weeks, as, collectively, Region 5A’s top five are on a 30-game winning streak. ACDC has stumbled recently after an 8-0 start, but is still well within range to improve its seeding ahead of the postseason.
Looking ahead to March: With each team still to play at least eight games and several region games mixed in, the final standings could look much different, and the competition to claim the region’s two SoDak 16 berths will be fierce. As it stands, Wagner (No. 1), Parkston (No. 6), MVP (No. 9), and Hanson (No. 15) are all within the top 16 in the class, with SCW and ACDC not far out at No. 19 and No. 23, respectively. As of now, there’s not a deeper region or more competitive region in Class A.
A look at the top teams: Mobridge-Pollock leads Region 6A with a 7-2 record and 42.2 seed-points. Crow Creek (7-4) trails Mobridge-Pollock by 0.3 seed-points amongst the region standings, but also lost to the No. 1-seeded Tigers 68-59 on Jan. 13. Behind Crow Creek is Winner (6-5), Dupree (8-6) and Chamberlain (7-7) and each team is separated by 0.7 seed-points.
How we got here? Mobridge-Pollock got off to a good start winning seven of its nine games this season, including a current five-game win streak that features region teams Crow Creek and McLaughlin. The Tigers have won each game by an average of 18.3 points and one of its two losses came against Class B’s undefeated Aberdeen Roncalli. Just like Mobridge-Pollock, Crow Creek has three wins against teams with records better than .500 and their most recent win came against Winner. Winner may have lost five games this season, but each loss was against formidable opponents. The Warriors have lost to Wagner, West Central, Parkston, Corsica-Stickney and Crow Creek, all teams that are top-two in their respective regions. Dupree and Chamberlain are not too far behind rounding out the top five as both teams have three of their last four games.
Looking ahead to March: Looking at a potential SoDak 16, Mobridge-Pollock and Crow Creek would be in line to possibly be No. 15 and No. 16 seeds, without any upsets. Winner is No. 26 in the seed-point standings overall right now, and does not see its schedule get much easier in the second half of the season. But given the Warriors’ strong program and championship pedigree — state qualifiers the last three years and the 2019 champions — it’s going to be hard to count out Winner until all is said and done.
A look at the top teams: Bridgewater-Emery and Colman-Egan are the only two teams to have double-digit wins at this point of the season. The Huskies have the top spot of Region 4B by .148 seed points and play Colman-Egan on Feb. 1. Howard rounds out the top-three with a 7-5 record, while Ethan is in fourth at 6-4 and Dell Rapids St. Mary (7-6) sits at fifth.
How we got here? Bridgewater-Emery has beaten every team this season with a losing record but have also managed some formidable wins against Sanborn Central/Woonsocket and Highmore-Harrold, along with Ethan and Howard, two teams within its region chasing the Huskies for first-place. Colman-Egan will have a legitimate chance of surpassing Bridgewater-Emery as they play three games in a row, one against the Huskies, against teams with a combined record of 30-7.
Looking ahead to March: Bridgewater-Emery (No. 10) and Colman-Egan (No. 11) sit right behind the middle of the pack in Class B. Howard (No. 18) and Ethan (No. 21) are certainly capable of knocking off the teams ahead of them in the region playoffs, so this is going to be an interesting region to watch and one that should be battle-tested before the SoDak 16.
A look at the top teams: Viborg-Hurley sits atop Region 5B with 44.9 seed-points while one-loss Centerville is right behind the Cougars with 44 seed-points. Centerville’s opponents have a win-loss percentage of .442, which ranks among the top-10 easiest in Class B to this point, but they still have a nearly two-point seed advantage on third-place Irene-Wakonda and Freeman is in fourth and Alcester-Hudson in fifth.
How we got here? Viborg-Hurley has 11 wins this season, thanks to a four-game winning streak to start the year and currently riding a five-game winning streak. Centerville hasn’t lost a game since the season opener against Hanson. The two teams will likely put their streaks on the line on Jan. 27 in Centerville. They are the two teams that have winning records against opponents with records of .500 or better.
Looking ahead to March: Viborg-Hurley is knocking on the door of being a top-five team in Class B as they are currently at No. 7. Centerville is at No. 12, leaving both teams in decent position for seedings heading to a potential SoDak 16. Irene-Wakonda and Freeman are both worth watching in this region, considering they have experience playing in the state-qualifying round in recent seasons.
A look at the top teams: With a 12-2 record, Corsica-Stickney has asserted itself as the No. 1 team in the region. Only one other team in the region has a winning record at this stage of the season, as Platte-Geddes is 6-5 and third in the seed-points standings. Avon is currently ahead of them by less than two-tenths of a point and has a 5-7 record. Marty (4-4), Burke (5-8) and Wessington Springs (5-8) fill out the 4-6 positions in the region standings.
How we got here? Corsica-Stickney challenged itself with its schedule in the first half of the year. No Class B team has more wins against opponents with a winning record (nine) and its record ranks in the top-15 for opponents’ winning percentage. Aside from the Jaguars, Avon has the best win of the other contenders in the region, defeating former Region 6B foe Andes Central/Dakota Christian by three points last week.
Looking ahead to March: As it stands now, the Jaguars look like a potential state championship contender, with a challenging schedule and an impressive offense, averaging a class-best 63.1 points per game and allowing just 40.4 points per contest. A strong second-half to the season should have C-S in line for a good seed for the SoDak 16. The battle to be the second representative from this region should be fierce, even if they’ll be an underdog when they reach the state-qualifying round. A potential sleeper is Gregory, even at 2-9. They have lost six games by six points or less, including a one-point loss at White River on Jan. 20.
A look at the top teams: A gaudy 13-1 record has carried Wall to the top of the region standings, ahead of White River, which is the No. 4 ranked team in the Class B media poll and was the Class B champions a season ago. White River is second in the region with a record of 8-2 and stands a point and a half ahead of third-place Jones County, also 8-2. Kadoka Area has a 10-3 record to be fourth in the standings. Lyman is eighth in the standings with a record of 3-7.
How we got here? White River has played the region’s toughest schedule (opponent winning percentage of .560) and has a record of 8-2, with the only losses coming to Class A foes Red Cloud and West Central. Wall and White River will meet on Feb. 3 in White River in a game that will likely help decide the region’s top spot.
Looking ahead to March: Wall is the overall No. 5 team and White River stands as No. 6 in the Class B seed-point standings, meaning those two teams should end up with solid seedings if they make the SoDak 16. While White River is playing a diverse grouping of teams from around the state, Wall does not have any games scheduled against teams east of Chamberlain, likely making the Eagles a question mark before a potential meeting in the SoDak 16, because 19 of the top-25 in seed points in Class B are East River programs.