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Full Court Press: Pierre's talented Lincoln Kienholz receives three sports worth of D-I attention

Mitchell Republic’s Full Court Press, the weekly web-exclusive look at high school basketball in South Dakota

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Pierre's Lincoln Kienholz shoots a three over Rapid City Steven's Hayden Gebhart during a high school boys basketball game on Dec. 10, 2021 in Rapid City.
Courtsey photo of Brandon Campea
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PIERRE – From one sport to the next, Lincoln Kienholz can excel like most can’t.

It’s not often that a multi-sport athlete has the opportunity to decide which sport he might want to play at a Division I program on a full-ride scholarship, but Kienholz will be one of the few that has to make that decision sometime in the near future.

The 6-foot-3 junior in Pierre received his first Division I scholarship football offer from South Dakota State University on Feb. 6 and four days later, he received his first Division I basketball scholarship offer from University of South Dakota on Feb. 10. Kienholz has not received a baseball scholarship offer from any program, but has been in talks with SDSU about that opportunity possibly coming to fruition after the spring season is complete.

He hasn’t decided on what sport he will choose to play at the next level, let alone what school he will commit to, but Kienholz said the most important factor in his decision will be the academic programs the school can provide.

“When I think about it, the culture and success they’ve had in the past couple years comes first to my mind,” Kienholz said. “The coaches and history plays a part as well, but the main thing I’m looking for right now is the schooling. I want to become a dentist, so I’ve been looking into schools that have great dentistry programs.”

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Kienholz has been playing at least three sports since he was in third grade. The Pierre player has been a guard in basketball, the quarterback in football, and the shortstop and pitcher in baseball since the age of 10. Now at the age of 17, months away from completing his junior year, he still has a passion for every sport, ranking basketball first and football second.

As colleges hone in on Kienholz and hopes he chooses their college to play sports starting in 2023, he said every school has said one of the reasons they’ve reached out to him is because he’s good at multiple sports.

“All of them love multi-sport athletes. They keep telling me that playing baseball, basketball and football in high school really helps you become a well-rounded athlete because it puts you in so many different situations,” Kienholz said.

First love: basketball

Kienholz said his favorite sport as of right now is basketball if he had to choose one.

When he started high school, he was a freshman playing on the junior-varsity team. Just three games into the season, Kienholz was bumped up into the varsity rotation and remained there ever since.

His first year with the Governors, the basketball team posted a 1-19 record. The following season, they went from one win to seven and lost in the SoDak 16 to Sioux Falls O’Gorman. The team was progressing and so was Kienholz’s game. As a sophomore, he earned Class AA all-state boys second team honors. He averaged 18.5 points and 5.3 rebounds, making 43 percent from 3-point range and 73 percent of his free throws.

Heading into his junior year, Kienholz began playing for his new head coach Brianna Kusler, who had already seen Kienholz play the year before as she sat on the bench as an assistant coach. In just one year, Kusler noticed that Kienholz was a very gifted athlete who can be the best player on the floor every time out.

“He brings so much versatility to a team that it’s very helpful for a coach like myself coming into this position,” Kusler said. “He’s got the ability to create for teammates, create for himself, he can attack at the rim with his quick first step and also has the ability to elevate and pull up from the mid-range and hit those extended-range shots.”

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Pierre's Lincoln Kienholz gets a fast break two-handed dunk against Spearfish on Dec. 18, 2021 during a high school boys basketball game in Pierre.
Courtsey photo of Brandon Campea

The Governors just finished its regular season, losing to undefeated Sioux Falls Roosevelt in Sioux Falls 63-55 on Saturday. Pierre concludes its regular season with a 8-11, making that the most wins in a season for the Governors since 2016-17. As Pierre awaits to see who they’ll match up with in the SoDak 16, Kienholz leads the team heading into postseason play with 19.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and two steals per game. He notched season-highs of 35 points against Watertown on Feb. 18 and 13 rebounds against Yankton on Feb. 4.

Excelling in football

In Kienholz's first year of high school, the first sport he played was football. During his freshman season, he was one of the three quarterbacks on the roster. He sat second string behind Garrett Stout, Pierre’s then starting quarterback who now plays baseball for South Dakota State University.

Stout had just come off back-to-back Class 11AA football championships as the starting quarterback, heading into his senior year. Kienholz still played in 10 of the Governors’ 12 games that season as the quarterback but said he didn’t mind coming off the bench since he learned valuable lessons from Stout and other seniors on the roster.

“We had a lot of really good seniors as athletes that year so not starting was still beneficial for me,” Kienholz said. “Grey Zabel, who plays at North Dakota State University now, was a big influence on me. There were a couple of guys that taught me a lot and prepared me well and gave me great advice whenever I needed it.”

Kienholz had the opportunity of playing in the second half of games because Pierre usually had a big lead after halftime. He managed to complete 50 percent of his passes his freshman year and averaged 14.2 yards per completion.

In his second season, starting all 11 games, Kienholz led Pierre to its fourth-straight Class 11AA state football title. At the beginning of the season, the Governors showed some vulnerability with their new quarterback, losing their first football game in almost two calendar years.

After suffering its second loss of that 2020-21 season to Brookings, Pierre head coach Steve Steele said at that point they thought it was going to be a growing year for Kienholz.

“His first year as a starting quarterback, we knew it was going to be a growing year in terms of progression because it’s a lot different having to be the guy on varsity,” Steele said. “As the season went on, right after that Brookings loss, the game started to slow down for him. We played Mitchell at home and from there he didn’t really make any bad decisions or force things. He allowed his ability to just shine through.”

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Pierre's Lincoln Kienholz avoids a sack by Mitchell's Joe Van Overschelde on Friday, September 3, 2021 at the Hollister Football Field in Pierre.
Courtesy photo of Scott Millard

He finished the season throwing for 20 touchdowns and averaged 197 passing yards per game. The sophomore threw for 2,163 total yards and had a completion percentage of 59. In the championship game against Brookings, Kienholz avenged the loss earlier in the year by completing 10 of 19 passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns.

Coming off his first state title as the starting quarterback, Kienholz finished his junior year with another state title, making five straight football championship wins for the Governors.

He led the team in passing and rushing, throwing for 3,356 yards and rushing for 1,165 yards. Kienholz completed 55 percent of his passes, passing for 280 yards per game and threw 37 touchdowns to only six interceptions. He also rushed for 12 touchdowns.

As Class AA schools enter the postseason for boys basketball, that means baseball season is right around the corner.

Kienholz plays spring and summer baseball for Pierre and this season might come with a little more suspense than usual. Even though he hasn’t received any offer to play baseball, he hopes the spring season will be an opportunity for schools to recognize him for his baseball talents.

As he continues to have talks with SDSU and several junior colleges like Iowa Western, Kienholz just wants every offer to be on the table before he sits down to make a decision. Throughout this unique process, Kienholz said he’s leaning on his coaches and his loved ones when it comes to a decision.

“I’ve been talking to my coaches, especially Steve Steele because he has a lot of knowledge on this stuff and we have a great relationship,” Kienholz said. “I also talk to some of the coaches that recruit me and see what advice they have. My parents are a big part of this as well.”

Oakley’s 3-pointer lifts Parkston over Bon Homme

Parkston’s Gracie Oakley drilled a 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining in overtime, that provided the winning difference as the Trojans held off Bon Homme in a Region 5A quarterfinals girls basketball 45-42.

Honor roll

Girls top performers

  • Hanson’s Annalyse Weber had 24 points and five assists to lead the Beavers to a 68-39 Region 5A quarterfinal win against Sanborn Central/Woonsocket on Tuesday. She also had 21 points and seven steals in the semifinal loss to Wagner on Thursday.
  • Parkston’s Abby Hohn scored 21 points, along with five rebounds and three assists, in the Trojans 45-42 overtime win in the Region 5A quarterfinals over Bon Homme on Tuesday. Erin Heusinkveld had a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in the loss for the Cavaliers.
  • Emilee Fox recorded 32 points and seven steals as Mount Vernon/Plankinton took down Andes Central/Dakota Christian 57-48 on Tuesday in the Region 5A quarterfinals. Fox’s teammate Maria Baker had 20 points and five rebounds in the win for the Titans.
  • Ashtyn Wobig posted 29 points in McCook Central/Montrose’s 55-52 Region 3A quarterfinal loss to Tri-Valley on Tuesday.
  • Corsica-Stickney’s Avery Broughton exploded for 31 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals in Tuesday’s 66-28 Region 6B quarterfinal win against Kimball/White Lake.
  • Avon’s Courtney Sees had 22 points and five assists at home in the Pirates 72-29 Region 6B quarterfinal victory over Marty on Tuesday. Tiffany Pelton recorded a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds in the Pirates win.
  • Julia Weber notched a game-high 20 points, along with five steals, in Bridgewater-Emery’s Region 4B quarterfinal win over Oldham-Ramona/Rutland on Tuesday.
  • Mackenzie Hemmer’s 22 points and 11 rebounds lead Colman-Egan past Canistota in the Region 4B quarterfinals on Tuesday night at home. She also had 30 points, 17 rebounds, five assists and six steals in the Hawks loss on Thursday.
  • Winner’s Bella Swedlund led the way for the Warriors on Thursday with 32 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals in a Region 6A quarterfinals victory over Stanley County.
  • Howard’s Kate Conner posted a double-double of 27 points and 11 rebounds in an upset win over No. 1-seeded Colman-Egan Thursday to advance to the SoDak 16.

Boys top performers

  • Mount Vernon/Plankinton’s Reed Rus scored 25 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in the Titans final regular season game, beating McCook Central/Montrose at home 54-49 on Monday. Gavin Gordon had 16 points in the loss for the Fighting Cougars.
  • Hanson’s Noah Price notched a near double-double of 20 points and nine rebounds in a 58-48 win against Chamberlain on Monday. Price’s teammates Ethan Cheeseman and Luke Haiar had 16 points each in the win.
  • Blake Volmer recorded 21 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one block in Winner’s 75-42 victory over Crow Creek on Monday.
  • Tate VanOtterloo paced Beresford with 20 points in the Watchdogs 71-54 win against Wagner on Monday.
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Mount Vernon/Plankinton's Reagan Rus (1) shoots around Chamberlain's Jayslee Petersen (32) during a game on Friday, February 4, 2022 in Plankinton.
Republic file photo

Super SoDak 16 showdowns to watch

With the SoDak 16 right around the corner in girls basketball on Thursday and Friday this week, here's four games we're looking forward to:

Class A: No. 4 Lakota Tech (19-1) vs. No. 13 Flandreau (18-3), 6 p.m., at Kadoka.

A three-loss team such as the Fliers holding the No. 13 seed tells you how competitive this SoDak 16 round is likely to be in Class A. This matchup features two of the top-five scoring teams in Class A girls basketball, with the Tatanka as the No. 1 scoring team in the class at 72.8 points per game and the Fliers averaging 61.7 points per game. (Crow Creek and West Central fit that high scoring criteria, as well.) Flandreau has the three-player attack of Claire Sheppard, Lizzie Pavlis and Maria Parsley, while Lakota Tech is one win away from a state tournament bid in its second year as a program and looking for its 15th straight victory.

Class A: No. 7 Dakota Valley (18-4) vs. No. 10 Mount Vernon/Plankinton (17-5), 7 p.m., at Tea.

One of the other marquee games in Class A comes in a rematch of a game that took place about a month ago. The two teams played on Jan. 29 at the Sacred Hoops Classic in Sioux Falls, with Dakota Valley winning 51-43. That will be an asset for both teams in preparing for a rematch on Thursday. Dakota Valley standout Rylee Rosenquist is averaging nearly 23 points and 10 rebounds per game, while MVP's Emilee Fox continues to be a do-everything player for the Titans, with Maria Baker and Reagan Rus proving to be strong running mates.

Class B: No. 3 Wall (20-2) vs. No. 14 Howard (15-7), 7:30 p.m., at Kadoka.

Wall has a gaudy record with 20 wins and has wins over Faith, Jones County and Kadoka Area (twice). But the Eagles only played one East River opponent all season — Chamberlain in Game 1, which was a 49-47 win — leaving questions about the quality of their schedule, which ranked 29th in opponent winning percentage in the class. Wall will get to face Howard close to home, with the Tigers riding high off a two-overtime win over Region 4B top-seed Colman-Egan. Howard won a 2020 SoDak 16 game to reach the state tournament, but had their stay wiped out by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Class B: No. 6 Castlewood (16-5) vs. No. 11 Viborg-Hurley (18-4), 7:30 p.m., at Madison.

Playing in the SoDak 16 for a fifth consecutive season, Castlewood will take on fellow Class B state qualifier from last season. The Warriors finished second in Class B, while Viborg-Hurley was seventh. Castlewood had five losses during the season and four of those came to SoDak 16 qualifiers and the Warriors avenged the fifth in its Region 3B semifinal win over Arlington. Both teams having scoring defenses that allow 40 points per game or less. Coral Mason and Denae Mach average nearly 30 points per game in unison for the Cougars' offense.

Branden is a sports reporter that graduated from Purdue University Northwest with a bachelor's degree in communications and a focus in journalism. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 and covers prep and collegiate athletics. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Full-Court Press, providing a weekly web-exclusive look at high school basketball throughout all of South Dakota. Branden can be reached at bhull@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @bhullreports.
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