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Four storylines to watch at this year's Hoop City Classic

A total of 28 games are scheduled for three days, including 19 at the Corn Palace between Dec. 28-30

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Houston's Brock Vice (10) shoots a layup over a St. Thomas More defender during the first half of a Hoop City Classic contest on Dec. 30, 2021, at the Sanford Pentagon, in Sioux Falls.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL — The 12th edition of the Hoop City Classic has a lot of the traits that have made the event a holiday staple for high school basketball fans.

The three-day basketball festival includes a number of top teams, both in South Dakota and from around the country, along with highly touted future collegiate players in two of the state’s iconic basketball venues.

Here’s a look at what to watch for in this year’s event:

Sizing up Class B

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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

For the first time this season, the opening day of the Hoop City Classic will likely provide a top opportunity to evaluate some of the Class B contenders in South Dakota boys basketball.

Among the teams in action includes No. 1 White River, No. 3 Aberdeen Christian, No. 4 Lower Brule, plus Gregory and Howard, which are each receiving votes in the most recent South Dakota Prep Media poll. Waubay/Summit, a Class B state qualifier from last season, is also back in the event, putting four of last year’s eight qualifiers in Aberdeen in the Corn Palace for the Hoop City event.

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Fans will also get a sampling of potential contenders in Region 3B, with Howard, Ethan, Canistota and Bridgewater-Emery all in action on the first day, with the Huskies taking on White River on Dec. 28, plus a game against Campbell County (Wyo.) on Dec. 30. Bridgewater-Emery is 6-6 since starting play in the event since 2015, which is the most of any Class B school, which speaks to the quality of coach Scott Schultz’s teams on an annual basis.

Most interesting among those Class B teams is Howard, which will play Hamlin on Dec. 28 and then turn around and take on Lower Brule on Dec. 30 at the Huron Holiday Classic. It is a quick gauntlet for the Tigers, which also has No. 2 De Smet, Hanson and Bridgewater-Emery on the schedule before Jan. 20.

Minnesota powers

The rankings are also looking fondly upon the talented teams that are making their way across the eastern border of South Dakota to play in Mitchell and Sioux Falls this week.

According to the most recent rankings from the Minnesota Basketball News, the top-three ranked teams in Minnesota’s Class 3A — No. 1 Totino-Grace, No. 2 DeLaSalle and No. 3 Orono — will each play on Dec. 29 and Dec. 30.

On the girls side, the defending state champions in Minnesota’s Class 3A in Providence Academy will play two games, facing Brandon Valley at 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 29 in Sioux Falls, followed by Thunder Basin (Wyo.) at 10 a.m. on Dec. 30 in Mitchell. The school, based in Twin Cities suburb Plymouth, Minneota, edged Fergus Falls last season for the state championship, the school’s first.

Division I talent

A record of 20 NBA draft picks and 18 McDonald’s All-Americans speaks for itself at this point for the Hoop City Classic, with the 2022 slate of players coming through

Starting on the girls side, Maddyn Greenway, the daughter of Mount Vernon native and former NFL linebacker Chad Greenway, is among the Providence Academy’s stars, averaging nearly 24 points per game a season ago. A freshman point guard, she already has surpassed 1,000 career points and is drawing interest from a number of Big Ten programs for women’s basketball.

Totino-Grace brings in Ohio State signee Taison Chatman, plus Tommy Humphries, who will play college basketball at Furman. Freshman recruit Dothan Ijadimbola, who stands at 6-foot-5 and plays small forward, is a fast-rising prospect, as well.

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Houston's (Tenn.) Mavrick Miller puts up a shot during a Jan. 7, 2021 game at the Corn Palace against Lower Brule.
Mitchell Republic file photo

For Houston (Tenn.), 6-foot-10 power forward Brock Vice signed with Saint Louis in November, as Vice starred last season in a trio of games in the event. The Mustangs also have Mavrick Miller, the son of former NBA veteran Mike Miller, with the young Miller playing both forward and guard at 6-foot-6 as a senior.

For in-state players, White River’s Joe Sayler is signed to South Dakota State, as is Brandon Valley’s Hillary Behrens and Tea Area’s Katie Vasecka, and Lennox’s Porter Ihnen holds scholarship offers from both South Dakota and South Dakota State.

The Wyoming connection

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Thunder Basin (Wyo.) coach Rory Williams talks to his team at the end of the first quarter during a Hoop City Classic basketball game on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021 at the Corn Palace.
Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic

For the third season in a row, Mitchell will take on the two Gillette, Wyoming teams involved in the Hoop City Classic, with the boys and girls teams taking on Campbell County and Thunder Basin.

The Mitchell boys are 3-1 in those games, with only the loss to Thunder Basin last season by a 61-53 score, before winning an 84-79 shootout with the Camels in Game 2 last season. Thunder Basin went on to win the Class 4A boys state title in 2022 in Wyoming. The Kernel girls are 2-2 in those games, defeating Campbell County in both matchups and dropping the meetings with the Bolts.

As it stands, Thunder Basin’s girls teams will play Mitchell on the back end of a twinbill on the final day of the event, facing Providence Academy in the morning and then Mitchell at 7 p.m. later in the day.

Hoop City Classic Schedule

Wednesday, Dec. 28 — at Corn Palace

9 a.m. — Boys: Ethan vs. McCook Central/Montrose

10:30 a.m. — Boys: Viborg-Hurley vs. Gregory

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Noon — Boys: Howard vs. Hamlin

1:30 p.m. — Girls: Mitchell vs. Campbell County (Wyo.)

3 p.m. — Boys: Houston (Tenn.) vs. Thunder Basin (Wyo.)

4:30 p.m. — Boys: Mitchell vs. Campbell County (Wyo.)

*5:30 p.m. — Girls: Colome vs. Thunder Basin (Wyo.)

6 p.m. — Boys: Waubay/Summit vs. Canistota

7:30 p.m. — Boys: Bridgewater-Emery vs. White River

9 p.m. — Boys: Aberdeen Christian vs. Lower Brule

Thursday, Dec 29 — at Sanford Pentagon

9 a.m. — Girls: Campbell County (Wyo.) vs. Viborg-Hurley

10:30 a.m.: Boys — Waconia (Minn.) vs. Lennox

Noon — Boys: Campbell County (Wyo.) vs. White River

1:30 p.m. — Girls: Providence Academy (Minn.) vs. Brandon Valley

3 p.m. — Boys: Dream City Christian (Ariz.) vs. Totino-Grace (Minn.)

4:30 p.m. — Boys: DeLaSalle (Minn.) vs. Harrisburg

6 p.m. — Boys: Sioux Falls Jefferson vs. Orono (Minn.)

7:30 p.m. — Boys: Brandon Valley vs. Houston (Tenn.)

9 p.m. — Boys: Sioux Falls Christian vs. Thunder Basin (Wyo.)

Friday, Dec. 30 — at Corn Palace

8:30 a.m. — Girls: Tea Area vs. Campbell County (Wyo.)

10 a.m. — Girls: Providence Academy (Minn.) vs. Thunder Basin (Wyo.)

11:30 a.m. — Boys: Elk Point-Jefferson vs. Waconia (Minn.)

1 p.m. — Boys: Houston (Tenn.) vs. Totino-Grace (Minn.)

2:30 p.m. — Boys: Dream City Christian (Ariz.) vs. DeLaSalle (Minn.)

4 p.m. — Boys: Bridgewater-Emery vs. Campbell County (Wyo.)

5:30 p.m. — Boys: Orono (Minn.) vs. Houston (Tenn.)

7 p.m. — Girls: Thunder Basin (Wyo.) vs. Mitchell (Girls)

8:30 p.m. — Boys: Mitchell vs. Thunder Basin (Wyo.)

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 mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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