South Dakota Full Court Press: Hamlin girls roll through regular season
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.
MITCHELL — The Hamlin girls basketball team hasn't left much doubt during the regular season.
Through 18 games, the Chargers have been rolling, taking on some of the stiffest competition in the state and going unblemished with just two games left in the regular season.
And with losses in the past two Class A state championship games, head coach Tim Koisti wanted his girls to be battle tested this year and ready for the state tournament.
“I knew that we had a good team coming back and I wanted to test us,” Koisti said. “Not expecting to win all of them but just knowing that playing good teams is going to make you better and better.”
The schedule has forced the Chargers to consistently prove themselves against tough competition, and they’re tied with Chamberlain for the most difficult schedule in Class A with an opponent’s winning percentage of .606. Yet despite this, Hamlin has the third-best point differential in the class at plus-26.1.
They’ve taken Class B No. 1 Viborg-Hurley, beating the Cougars 63-46 at DWU Classic, while also giving Vermillion its only loss of the season, beating a 15-4 St. Thomas More team, a 15-4 Flandreau squad, a 16-2 Sisseton team and 15-1 Florence/Henry. And they’ve been doing it without a senior-laden roster.
They’re led by senior Kami Wadsworth, who poured in 25 points against Viborg-Hurley, but outside of her there are only two seniors on the squad — Brooklyn Brandriet and Ally Abraham.
“We’ve got great senior leadership. Kami Wadsworth, obviously a leader with points, but not just that,” Koisti said. “She means everything. We feed off of her energy. We feed off of her leadership.”
Despite the youth on the roster, though, much of the team returned from last season when Hamlin fell to St. Thomas More in the state title game.
“Being that close is very difficult, but it certainly drives my kids,” Koisti said.
One of the team’s strongest assets is its passing. It was on full display against V-H, assisting on 19 of its 23 made baskets, which Koisti said isn’t an anomaly for his team.
To get to this point, Hamlin has made sure to not look too far ahead. Koisti emphasized the Chargers take it one game by game, focusing on winning the game in front of them as opposed to looking toward an end goal.
“I try to tell my kids,” Koisti said. “‘You got to take it one game at a time. Every game is a game, whether you’re playing somebody that’s 0-10 or whether you’re playing somebody that’s 10-0.’”
Three that impressed
A look at the top team performances of the week.
- Arlington girls: Not only did the Cardinals make their way into the Class B top five this week, but recent wins over Deubrook Area, Dell Rapids St. Mary and James Valley Chistian — all with at least 14 wins — have boosted Arlington to No. 4 in the Class B seed-point standings. Arlington (16-4) is done with its regular season schedule and has just one loss to another Class B team, which occurred at Howard all the way back on opening night.
- Hamlin boys: A win over a No. 1-ranked team can never hurt, and the Class A Chargers led wire-to-wire in taking down Class B top-ranked Aberdeen Christian at the DWU Classic. Hamlin also has wins over double-digit win teams in Milbank, Castlewood and Deuel in its last five outings and somewhat quietly sits at No. 7 in the Class A standings.
- Brandon Valley girls: Since Feb. 3, the Lynx are 5-0 with a head-turning 58-50 win over second-ranked Sioux Falls Washington last week. Overall, Brandon Valley has won 11 of its last 13 following a 1-3 start and is playing as well as anyone in girls Class AA.
What we’re watching
Three games we’re watching in the coming week:
- Howard at Viborg-Hurley (doubleheader), Thursday, Feb. 16: Two teams from both the girls and boys side of Class B will get a stiff test come Thursday night. On the girls side, Viborg-Hurley sits at No. 3 in the seed-point standings with Howard is seventh. In the boys standings, Viborg-Hurley is sixth and Howard is 10th. All four teams will be in search of a resume-boosting win, or perhaps more importantly avoiding a dreaded late-season setback.
- Sioux Falls Christian at Sioux Valley (Boys), Friday, Feb. 17: Class A’s No. 3-ranked team visits No. 2 in a contest all-important for postseason positioning. The winner has the inside track to the No. 2 seed, and the loser falls into a mix with several teams battling for third through seventh. Between the two sides, they’ve experienced just two setbacks to fellow Class A opposition all season, both falling to No. 1 Dakota Valley.
- Sioux Falls Jefferson at Sioux Falls Lincoln (Boys), Friday, Feb. 17: A tilt between the top-two ranked teams in Class AA becomes all the more intriguing given Lincoln’s recent 70-56 stumble to No. 5-ranked Sioux Falls Roosevelt. Jefferson, on the other hand, has yet to lose this season and beat Lincoln 71-57 in the second game of the season on Dec. 20. The two squads are Nos. 1 and 2 in the Class AA seed points, with the Cavaliers sitting atop the standings by 1.665 points over the Patriots.