Sawyer Stoebner does it all in Mitchell's state tournament win over Watertown
The junior forward tallied 24 points, 16 rebounds, six assists, four blocks and four steals.
SIOUX FALLS — She’s admittedly an aggressive player.
It helps her rebound the ball, get to the rim for layups and come up with blocks and steals on the defensive end.
And Sawyer Stoebner's aggressiveness was on full display Friday in Mitchell’s 48-37 win over Watertown in the Class AA state tournament consolation bracket, as the junior tallied 24 points, 16 rebounds, six assists, four blocks and four steals.
The performance comes on the heels of a contest in which she picked up nine points and 12 rebounds in a first-round loss to Sioux Falls Jefferson on Thursday. And prior to that, Stoebner had a 25-point outing against Brandon Valley in Mitchell’s upset win over SoDak 16.
“Our mentalities of (Friday) and the Brandon Valley game were to just play our game. We got nothing to lose,” Stoebner said after taking down the Arrows. “I feel like that’s what kind of helped me play my own game."
As the lone player among Class AA tournament teams to average a double-double this season, her game has adapted and grown, even just from the start of the season.
Her shooting continues to develop, and it makes trying to guard her in the high post all the more difficult.
“She’s a good one to put up there against that 2-3 zone,” coach Dave Brooks said of Stoebner following the win over Watertown. “She’s developing a mid-range jump shot so we keep telling her, ‘Turn and look. If it’s open, take that. It’s just a free throw.’”
Against Watertown, she said it was tougher to get the ball into the high post because of the Arrows' aggressive defense on her.
But when she did have the ball, her shooting showed up. And it wasn't only from the high post but from the free-throw line, too.
The junior connected on eight of her 11 attempts from the line and iced the game by hitting seven of eight tries down the stretch.
“At the beginning of the season, I did not do very good at free throws,” Stoebner said. “So it’s good to see them finally come together when it really counts.”
Part of her increased success at the free-throw line comes just from repetition. She said throughout the season, Brooks had his team getting to the line more during practice in an attempt to up its percentage, which she said was beneficial for not only her, but the whole team.
But besides scoring when she gets the ball in the high post, she’s just as adept as a passer. Her six assists against Watertown were one shy of her season high of seven that she set against Rapid City Central.
“We’re going to live with her decisions,” Brooks said. “We put it in her hands, that’s a pretty good person to put it in the hands of.”
When the ball isn’t in her hands, the forward is as much of a coach on the court as a player can be. She said she tries to be as encouraging to her teammates as she can be, whether she’s on the court or on the bench.
And for Brooks, having her on the floor is a welcome sight for the first-year head coach.
“She makes up for what I don’t do,” Brooks said with a chuckle. “That’s a good one to have to do it, and the kids, obviously they respect her.”