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Not your ordinary freshman, Corsica-Stickney's Tyson Wentland is making an instant impact

In his first eight career games on the Jaguars' varsity basketball team, Wentland is averaging 25.4 points and 10.1 rebounds.

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Corsica-Stickney's Tyson Wentland rises to shoot a 3-pointer over Mitchell Christian's Syver Enga during a high school boys basketball game on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022 at Mitchell Christian High School.
Branden Hull / Republic
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CORSICA, S.D. – Rising star Tyson Wentland has been playing well above his years in his first chances at varsity basketball this season.

For a team that won 11 straight games last year before losing to Viborg-Hurley in the SoDak 16, the Jaguars, who graduated six seniors, were possibly looking at a rebuilding year.

Wentland, a 6-foot-3 freshman forward, has helped point the Jaguars (6-2) upward. In the freshman’s first opportunity during the first game of the season, he surpassed any expectations, scoring 23 points and made six 3-pointers, along with 10 rebounds and five assists.

“He’s a freshman, but he’s playing like a junior or senior,” Corsica-Stickney head coach Mike Tuschen said. “He’s a huge leader on our team, leading us in some big categories and it's quite a luxury for a coach to have a freshman step up and take leadership and do what he does for our team.”

Three days after his debut, he posted 24 points and a career-high 16 rebounds three days later in a 58-22 win against Avon. As the season continued, Corsica-Stickney lost its first game of the year to McCook Central/Montrose on Dec. 28. Wentland’s response two days later resulted in a career-high 31-point performance while making seven 3-pointers in a hard fought 74-72 win over Bridgewater-Emery.

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Wentland is averaging 25.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 steals through eight games this season. He leads the Jaguars in points with 203 and in rebounds with 81. He’s second on the team in steals with 18 and third on the team in assists with 41.

“I think I’m playing pretty good, but it's nice to have some teammates help me out,” Wentland said. “We’re able to pass the ball and get open shots whenever we can. When teams close out on me, I can count on my teammates to make a shot and score for us. … I dump it down to the 7-footer or kick it out to pretty much anyone on our team and they’ll make the shot.”

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Corsica-Stickney's Tyson Wentland attempts to drive to the basket against Mitchell Christian's Carson Johnson, Carson Johnson, middle, and Syver Enga (20) during a high school boys basketball game on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022 at Mitchell Christian High School.
Branden Hull / Republic

Wentland is accompanied by teammates Taven Burke, a senior averaging 12.8 points and six rebounds per game, and Robert Nichols, a 7-foot senior that’s a defensive presence, averaging seven points and six rebounds per contest. The Jaguars have six seniors on the roster again this year, as well.

As a team, the Jaguars are shooting 42 percent from the field and holding teams to under 30 percent on 2-point shots. From behind the arc, Corsica-Stickney is shooting 28 percent as a team, but Wentland is the team’s best shooter by a wide margin. He’s shooting 37 percent from 3-point range and has made 22 more 3-pointers than the entire team combined. Wentland said his confidence to shoot the ball came from his AAU coach Sam Willard this past summer.

“The AAU season was really beneficial because I wasn’t that good last year and then I got a really good coach to work with me in the summer and he taught me a lot,” Wentland said. “He taught me how to be a big player and play inside-out. It helped me a lot with my post game and then he’d let me go out to the 3-point line whenever I was feeling it. He gave me that confidence to shoot the ball.”

The freshman has also posted five double-doubles of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds and has scored at least 20 points in every game this season.

Tuschen said Wentland has provided some needed tenacity to the team and is a high IQ basketball player. His lead-by-example mentality is something that has spread throughout the entire team, the longtime coach said.

“When you see a player of his magnitude show you that he wants to win, that competitiveness comes out and he brings a lot of things to our program with that,” Tuschen said. “He doesn’t want to make mistakes and he knows as a leader that he wants to show his team that we only accept 100% effort. He’s a great player to have and its creating a great team atmosphere because everybody is playing off of him.”

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Corsica-Stickney hosts Andes Central/Dakota Christian on Jan. 18 and Ethan on Jan. 20.

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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