Bridgewater-Emery's Sutton Arend selected to senior-laden Class B all-state first team

The Huskies' Arend is joined on the six-player first team comprised solely of seniors this year.

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Bridgewater-Emery's Sutton Arend steps back against Gregory during a high school boys basketball game at the DWU Classic on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, at the Corn Palace.
Zech Lambert / Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — Bridgewater-Emery’s Sutton Arend was among Class B boys basketball’s top scorers in 2023 and the Huskies’ senior has been recognized as a first-team all-state selection by the South Dakota Basketball Coaches Association.

Arend is joined on the six-player first team comprised solely of seniors this year. It includes White River guard Joe Sayler, Lower Brule guards Brian LaRoche Jr. and Gavin Thigh, De Smet center Damon Wilkinson and Aberdeen Christian guard/forward Ethan Russell.

Arend, a 6-foot-4 guard, was one of the area’s top scorers, posting 22.2 points per game, along with 8.3 rebounds per contest for the Huskies, shooting 54% from the field and converting 76% of his attempts from the free-throw line. Arend has pledged to play basketball at Mount Marty University in Yankton.

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White River's Joe Sayler brings the ball up the court during the boys Hanson Classic on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023 at the Corn Palace.
Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic

The 6-foot-4 Sayler leads the first-team contingent as the Class B player of the year, as selected by the SDBBCA. Sayler had 30.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game for the Tigers, who finished 20-6 and in fourth place in Class B, while he was the Spirit of Su winner in Aberdeen. Sayler, who has signed to play college basketball at South Dakota State, finished with 2,702 career points, which ranks as fifth-most in South Dakota history.

Wilkinson represents the state champion Bulldogs, with De Smet earning its third consecutive Class B state title in 2023. The 6-foot-10 Wilkinson had 22 points and 13 rebounds per game, shooting 54% from the field. He committed Tuesday to play basketball at South Dakota State and join up with current Jackrabbit freshman Kalen Garry.


LaRoche, a 6-foot-1 senior, logged 24.6 points, 5.1 rebounds per game and had 83 steals on the season for the state runner-up Sioux. He scored a season-high 57 points in a win over Cheyenne-Eagle Butte on Jan. 17 in a 21-for-33 shooting game, one of six games in which LaRoche scored 30-plus points. He also made 91 3-pointers, shooting 38% from deep.

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Lower Brule's Brian LaRoche Jr. faces up against Castlewood's Booker Schooley during a high school boys basketball Class B state quarterfinal game on Thursday, March 16, 2023, in Aberdeen.
Zech Lambert / Mitchell Republic

Coming off an All-Nations Conference football championship as quarterback, the Sioux’s Gavin Thigh helped lead the way on the basketball court, as well. The 5-foot-11 Thigh had 18.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, plus 65 steals on the season.

Aberdeen Christian’s contingent was led by the 6-foot-7 Russell, who finished with 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for the Knights, who finished third in Class B.

Members of the Class B all-state second team include Castlewood junior guard Lane Tvedt and sophomore center Bryon Laue, Aberdeen Christian senior guard Malek Wieker, Harding County senior guard Keegan Hett, Viborg-Hurley sophomore center Nick Hanson and Faith junior guard Jackson Schauer.

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Gregory's Daniel Mitchell looks to make a pass against Bridgewater-Emery during a high school boys basketball game at the DWU Classic on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, at the Corn Palace.
Zech Lambert / Mitchell Republic

Three area players were third-team selections, including Ethan senior forward Riley Endres, Gregory junior forward Daniel Mitchell and Canistota junior guard Tage Ortman.

Endres helped Ethan reach the Class B state tournament. The 6-foot senior guard averaged 15.2 points and seven rebounds per game, while shooting 45% from the field in a 20-6 season.

A 6-foot-7 junior, Mitchell helped the Gorillas reach the Class B SoDak 16 for the first time. Shooting 55% from the field, Mitchell posted 15 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game, and it is the third consecutive season that Mitchell has received all-state recognition, honored on the second team in 2022 and the third team in 2021.

Ortman, a 5-foot-11 guard, posted 18.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game, while logging 50 steals for the season for the Hawks.


Other members of the third team include White River junior guard Nicolas Marshall, Faulkton Area junior forward Layne Cotton and Herreid/Selby Area senior guard Tray Hettick.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at
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