Full Court Press: Historical stakes for all 32 Class A, Class B girls SoDak 16 teams

In this edition of the Full Court Press, we brush up on the past postseason successes — whether plentiful or scarce — for each team in the Class A and Class B girls state tournament qualifying round.

Wagner's Ashlyn Koupal (24) looks to score around Vermillion's Brooke Jensen (33) during the girls Hanson Classic on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023 at the Corn Palace.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — One game stands between the 32 remaining teams across the Class A and Class B girls basketball and a trip to the state tournaments in Watertown and Huron.

For some programs, SoDak 16 and state tournament appearances are regular events, but for others, it’s a chance to write a new chapter in school history.

Here’s a look at the postseason history for each program ahead of Thursday’s SoDak 16 contests.

Class A

No. 1 Hamlin (21-0) vs. No. 16 Milbank (14-7)

We start with Hamlin, the lone unbeaten team in all of South Dakota girls basketball. The Chargers have finished as the Class A runners-up in two-straight seasons and are after a fourth consecutive state tournament appearance. Hamlin is also making a sixth appearance in the seven-year history of the Class A SoDak 16 and owns a 4-1 record at this stage.

Being undefeated in the SoDak 16 has been a good omen. Undefeated teams in all girls classes are 10-0 when facing their opponent in the SoDak 16 round.


In this edition of the Full Court Press, we take a look at the Hamlin girls, who are the last unbeaten girls basketball team in the state.

Milbank is back in the SoDak 16 for the first time since 2017, the first year the state qualification round existed in Class A. The Bulldogs haven’t advanced to a state tournament since 2007, when they took third place for a second-straight season. A win would give Milbank its eighth all-time state tournament berth.

No. 2 Wagner (21-1) vs. No. 15 Tea Area (13-9)

For a second year in a row, Wagner is a top-two seed in the SoDak 16 and it's playing at the Corn Palace. Last season, Wagner won as the No. 1 seed over Winner, 36-33.

It’s the Red Raiders’ third appearance in the SoDak 16 overall, having split the prior two trips. Wagner finished fourth in last season’s state tournament, which snapped a 12-year state tournament drought for the program. A return trip would be the Red Raiders’ sixth appearance all-time.

Fresh off a region tournament upset of Vermillion (the No. 3 team in the Class A standings) spurred by SDSU-bound Katie Vasecka, Tea Area is a team no one wants to see at this stage. However, the Titans are 0-for-2 in their previous trips to the SoDak 16 and, per the SDHSAA’s records, have never made a state tournament.

No. 3 Sioux Falls Christian (20-2) vs. No. 14 Lennox (16-6)

Making a fourth appearance in the SoDak 16, Sioux Falls Christian is after a third-straight state tournament trip. The Chargers are in pursuit of the program’s fifth state tournament appearance all-time, having finished seventh last season.

Lennox last qualified for the state tournament in 2020 but is making its fifth SoDak 16 appearance. The Orioles are 3-1 in their previous four state qualification games. Another win would give the program its 14th state tournament bid all-time.

No. 4 Red Cloud (19-2) vs. No. 13 Garretson (15-7)

Red Cloud is back in the SoDak 16 for the third time and is 2-0 in its previous games, including advancing through this stage last season and taking home the consolation championship. The Crusaders are looking for the program’s 11th state tournament berth.

Garretson is one of the programs making its SoDak 16 debut this season. The Blue Dragons are in search of an elusive state tournament bid, as their last state tournament appearance came in 2014 and the only other in program history was in 1980.


No. 5 St. Thomas More (17-4) vs. No. 12 Flandreau (18-4)

St. Thomas More's Reese Ross (20, in white) attempts an underhanded layup on a fastbreak as Flandreau's Morgan Sheppard (20, in purple) and Hannah Krull (14) trail the play during the girls Hanson Classic on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, at the Corn Palace.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

One of the perennial contenders in Class A, St. Thomas More has played in and won each of the first six iterations of the SoDak 16 and could make it 7-for-7. Overall, the Cavaliers are in search of a 10th consecutive bid into the state tournament and have appeared in 11 of the last 12, winning seven state titles since 2012. Of note, STM defeated Flandreau earlier this season, 54-34, at the Hanson Classic.

Meanwhile, Flandreau is making its sixth-straight SoDak 16 trip, but hasn’t seen the same success at this stage as their counterparts. The Fliers are 1-4 in their previous five SoDak 16 contests, advancing to their most recent state tournament in 2020. Flandreau is aiming for an upset to qualify for the fourth state tournament in program history and just the second since 1997.

No. 6 Lakota Tech (18-4) vs. No. 11 Dupree (17-5)

A state tournament qualifier last season in its first-ever crack at the SoDak 16, Lakota Tech is back looking for a return trip. The Tatanka denied Flandreau a trip to the state tournament last season, 59-54.

Dupree, meanwhile, has never made a state tournament appearance and has reached the SoDak 16 once back in 2019 when the Tigers were still in Class B.

No. 7 Sisseton (19-2) vs. No. 10 Parkston (16-6)

Having made the SoDak 16 for the first time last season but coming up short, Sisseton returns looking for redemption in the state qualifying round. Sisseton has a dozen prior state tournament appearances but hasn’t been back since 2012, the last in a three-year run. Interestingly enough, Volga, the site for Thursday’s clash, was also the host of Sisseton’s SoDak 16 game last season (against Sioux Falls Christian).

Parkston is making its second SoDak 16 appearance, having also made it in 2021 before bowing out, when the Trojans lost 50-46 at Kadoka in a game against Belle Fourche. The Trojans have not qualified for a state tournament since recording a runner-up finish in 2012 but have 10 all-time appearances to their credit.

Parkston's Abby Hohn (12) attacks the basket as Florence/Henry's Trinity Watson (23) defends during the girls Hanson Classic on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, at the Corn Palace.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

No. 8 Rapid City Christian (18-4) vs. No. 9 Miller (18-4)

Another first-time SoDak 16 participant, Rapid City Christian is gunning for the program’s first-ever Class A state tournament led by the talents of USD-bound Olivia Kieffer. The Comets’ only previous state tournament berth came at the Class B level in 1996.


Miller has played in four prior SoDak 16 games — a run of four in a row between 2018 and 2021 — but has not advanced through this round, coming in as the lower-seeded team each time. However, a No. 9 seed is the highest the Rustlers have been at this stage (previously No. 12), and they’re in search of a first state tournament since 2012 and just the second since 1993.

Class B

No. 1 Wolsey-Wessington (20-2) vs. No. 16 Leola/Frederick Area (16-6)

Wolsey-Wessington is already into its first-ever SoDak 16, and if ever there was a time for the Warbirds to make their state tournament debut as a co-op, it’s now as the top seed. Between the two communities, there are only two prior state tournaments to speak of, as Wolsey won the 1977 Class B title and Wessington qualified the year prior.

Leola/Frederick Area is similarly inexperienced on this stage, as the Titans are also making their first SoDak 16 appearance and the program has only qualified for the state tournament once, in 2016.

No. 2 Ethan (19-2) vs. No. 15 Corsica-Stickney (13-8)

In a clash of Mitchell-area state tournament regulars, Ethan is looking to get back to the state tournament after qualifying seven-straight seasons and never finishing lower than fourth between 2015 and 2021. All-time in the SoDak 16, Ethan is 4-0.

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The Rustlers have a record of 8-2, with three-straight victories and wins in eight of their last nine games.

Also 4-0 in the SoDak 16 is Corsica-Stickney, as the Jaguars look to extend their state tournament streak to five in a row. However, C-S, the 2022 third-place finisher, has never been seeded lower than fourth in the state qualifying round, making for a new test.

No. 3 Viborg-Hurley (19-3) vs. No. 14 Lyman (14-7)

Though they’ve been ranked No. 1 in the South Dakota Prep Media polls all season, the defending state champions of Viborg-Hurley enter as the No. 3 seed. On top of winning it all last season, the Cougars also qualified for the state tournament in 2021 and are in search of the program’s fourth all-time bid, the previous three all coming since 2015. V-H comes into the SoDak 16 having won 24 straight games against South Dakota Class B competition dating back to Feb. 1, 2022.

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“We don't ever talk about our repeat. That was last year,” coach Molly Mason said. “We're going to pursue a new championship, just like everybody else.

Lyman will make its SoDak 16 debut on Thursday, having made one state tournament since 1989 back in 2014. An upset to make this year’s tournament would give the program its fifth berth all-time.

Action from a girls basketball game between the McCook Central/Montrose Fight Cougars and the Lyman Raiders during the 8th annual DWU Classic on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023, at the Corn Palace.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic


No. 4 Sully Buttes (19-3) vs. No. 13 Harding County (14-8)

A state tournament regular, making seven consecutive trips between 2012 and 2018, Sully Buttes is looking to get back for the first time since. Apart from a win in the first iteration of the SoDak 16 in 2018, the Chargers made their only other appearance last season.

Out west, Harding County was a six-time state tournament qualifier between 2001 and 2009 but hasn’t been back since. The Ranchers have never participated in the SoDak 16 round.

No. 5 Wall (17-5) vs. No. 12 Warner (16-6)

In the only SoDak 16 matchup from either class featuring two region No. 1 seeds, Wall aims for a return trip to the state tournament after finishing eighth last season. That was the Eagles’ only SoDak 16 appearance, though they’ve been to seven total state tournaments since 1990.

Warner made three-straight trips to the state tournament between 2017 and 2019, but hasn’t even been back to the SoDak 16 until this season. The Monarchs have also been to seven state tournaments since 1995, with five in the past decade.

No. 6 Howard (18-4) vs No. 11 Wessington Springs (16-6)

Another Mitchell-area matchup features a Howard squad eager to get back to the state tournament after COVID-19 cut their last trip short in 2020. In addition to 2020, the Tigers were in the SoDak 16 last season, falling short. A fifth all-time state tournament appearance would be the just the second for the program since finishing as Class A runner-up in 1995.

Inside: Corsica-Stickney battles back to the SoDak 16 and Howard is one step from the state tourney again

Wessington Springs is making its SoDak 16 debut this season, as the Spartans have been to just three state tournaments in the program’s history, the last in 2003.

No. 7 Castlewood (15-7) vs. No. 10 Timber Lake (16-5)

Castlewood's Madeline Horn (5) drives toward the basket as Hanson's Kylie Haiar defends during the girls Hanson Classic on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, at the Corn Palace.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

After making the state tournament in 2020 and finishing as runner-up in 2021, Castlewood was knocked off in the SoDak 16 last season by eventual champion Viborg-Hurley. The Warriors have made it to all six Class B SoDak 16s, notching a 3-2 record in their previous five appearances.

Timber Lake has been in the SoDak 16 twice, most recently in 2021, falling short of the state tournament both times as a No. 14 and No. 15 seed. The Panthers’ most recent state tournament came one season before the SoDak 16 was introduced, in 2017.


No. 8 Jones County (17-4) vs. No. 9 Centerville (17-5)

The final member of the SoDak 16 debut club is Jones County. The Coyotes last qualified for a state tournament in 2015 and have been to three all-time.

Centerville is right back where it was a year ago in the No. 8 versus No. 9 game (8-seed in 2022), which was its first SoDak 16 appearance. The Tornadoes have just two state tournament bids all-time, the last coming in 2011.

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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