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Mitchell’s Sawyer Stoebner named to Class AA basketball all-state second team

The sophomore ended the season averaging 15.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.2 steals per game.

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Mitchell's Sawyer Stoebner goes to the basket through a pair of Spearfish defenders during a Jan. 22, 2022 at Mitchell Christian School.
Mitchell Republic file photo
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MITCHELL – Despite a season filled with ebbs and flows of success and misfortunes, Mitchell’s Sawyer Stoebner received Class AA girls basketball second team all-state honors in 2022.

Stoenber, a 5-foot-9 sophomore guard, was selected to the list of Class AA announced by the South Dakota Basketball Coaches Association after leading the Kernels girls basketball team in points, rebounds, assists and steals, ending the year ranking 10th in Class AA with a 9-11 record.

“I’m excited and proud because it’s just a culmination and recognition of all the work she’s put in,” Mitchell head coach Cole Knippling said. “Sawyer works so hard all months of the year, so it’s good to see her get the respect she deserves. All-state is such a special award because it’s selected by the other coaches and that’s the ultimate sign of respect.”

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Mitchell Head Coach Cole Knippling listens to Mitchell's Sawyer Stoebner ask a question during a free throw attempt during a game against Pierre on Friday, January 14, 2022 at the Corn Palace.
Mitchell Republic file photo

Every player on the first team competed in the Class AA state tournament, which included two representatives from the state champions Sioux Falls O’Gorman. Hannah Ronsiek and Mahli Abdouch were a part of the O’Gorman team that hoisted the state title, joined by Gatorade Player of the Year and senior forward from Sioux Falls Washington Ndjakalenga Mwenentanda. Brandon Valley’s forward Hilary Behrens also made the first team, along with Rapid City Stevens senior guard Jayda McNabb and Rapid City Central’s senior forward Josie Hill.

The second team included Stoebner, Sioux Falls Jefferson guard Cierra Watkins, Harrisburg senior forward Emilee Boyer, Brookings senior forward Ainsley Shelsta, Huron senior guard Isabella Shreeve and Yankton senior guard Ellie Karolevitz.

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At the beginning of the year, Stoebner and the Mitchell Kernels struggled, losing six of its first seven games. Mitchell turned its season around winning eight straight games and Stoebner raised her play in nearly each individual category averaging 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals in that eight-game span.

Before trying to reach its ninth win in a row, Stoebner suffered two-hairline fractures in her back that at the time was supposed to sideline her for the remainder of the season. Losing its leading point-guard at an inopportune time, Mitchell lost its next four games without Stoebner by at least 24 points, all against the top-five teams in Class AA.

“When she was absent, you saw how much she was missed for a team that was really rolling,” Knippling said. “It really put us in a bad spot because she affects the game in so many ways on both ends of the floor. It’s very rare you have a player that can score, can dominate on the glass, assist and provide opportunities for other players and have that ability to still go get a bunch of steals.”

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Mitchell's Sawyer Stoebner splits a pair of Spearfish defenders to the basket during a game on Jan. 22, 2022 at Mitchell Christian School.
Mitchell Republic file photo

Stoebner elected to return to the court after being cleared by doctors on Feb. 24, finishing out the last two games of the Kernels season in the lineup. In its regular season finale, Mitchell lost to O’Gorman 56-21 and lost in the SoDak 16 against Sioux Falls Lincoln 43-38.

The sophomore ended the season averaging 15.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.2 steals per game. In the 17 games she played this season, Stoebner only had two games where she scored less than 10 points. She ended the year with six double-doubles and nearly had a triple-double of 28 points, 10 rebounds and nine steals against Campbell County (Wyo.) on Dec. 29 to help the Kernels earn their first win of the season.

The first-team honorees began with Ndjakalenga Mwenentanda, a four-star recruit and the 34th-ranked player nationally in the 2022 class according to ESPN, was named the Class AA girls player of the year in a vote of the coaches.

Mwenentanda, the University of Texas commit, averaged 18 points, eight rebounds and 2.4 assists per game for the fifth-place finishing Sioux Falls Washington Rough Riders. The senior shot 52 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range in her final high school basketball season. This is Mwenentanda’s second-straight first-team all-state selection and her third overall selection.

After a second-team selection in 2021, Colorado State commit Hannah Ronsiek of Sioux Falls O’Gorman also received first-team honors after upping her scoring average by over five points, going from 13.4 points per game in 2021 to 18.6 points per game in 2022. She follows in the footsteps of her sister Emma, a four-time all-state selection and current Creighton Blue Jays standout, with her third career all-state selection, making the first-team roster for the first time.

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Ronsiek was the centerpiece of O’Gorman’s championship run, scoring a game-high 15 points in the Class AA championship win over Rapid City Stevens.

Brandon Valley’s Hannah Ronsiek earned back-to-back first-team all-state honors after her team finished in fourth place at the Class AA tournament. The South Dakota State commit averaged 16.4 points and had 44 total steals in the 2021-22 season.

Class AA girls basketball all-state teams

As selected by the South Dakota Basketball Coaches Association

First Team

Ndjakalenga Mwenentanda, Sioux Falls Washington, senior, forward-guard (18 ppg, 8 rpg, 2.4 apg)

Hannah Ronsiek, Sioux Falls O’Gorman, senior, guard-forward (18.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.3 apg)

Hilary Behrens, Brandon Valley, junior, forward (16.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.3 apg)

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Jayda McNabb, Rapid City Stevens, senior, guard (12 ppg, 8 rpg, 5 apg)

Mahli Abdouch, Sioux Falls O’Gorman, sophomore, guard (13.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 5.4 apg)

Josie Hill, Rapid City Central, senior, forward (12.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.5 apg)

Second Team

Emilee Boyer, Harrisburg, senior, forward (14 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.2 apg)

Cierra Watkins, Sioux Falls Jefferson, junior, guard (11.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2 apg)

Sawyer Stoebner, Mitchell, sophomore, guard (15.9 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 3.4 apg)

Isabella Shreeve, Huron, senior, guard (11.9 ppg, 4 rpg, 3.4 apg)

Ainsley Shelsta, Brookings, senior, forward (15 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.1 apg)

Ellie Karolevitz, Yankton, senior, guard (15 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.6 apg)

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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