South Dakota Full Court Press: Pierre's Lincoln Kienholz savors basketball season ahead of football future
In this edition of the Full Court Press, we take a look at Pierre standout guard Lincoln Kienholz, who's enjoying the time he has left on the hardwood before a college football future at Ohio State.
PIERRE — If it weren't for basketball season, Lincoln Kienholz might already be in Columbus, Ohio, gearing up for spring football with Ohio State University.
The four-star quarterback recruit from Pierre had the opportunity to enroll early and head east in January, but as Kienholz put it, "you only get one senior year."
"Obviously a lot of people get the senioritis feeling where you just want to get out, but I stayed because I wanted to finish out basketball and baseball," he said.
A first-team all-state athlete in all three sports — football, basketball and baseball — it's pretty easy to see why once Kienholz started receiving Division I interest, particularly for his exploits on the gridiron, the scholarship offers started flooding in.
Back in late May 2022, Kienholz revealed he'd narrowed his list of suitors down to four -- North Dakota State, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. A month later, he announced his intentions to head west and attend the University of Washington.
But that was well before Kienholz stepped onto the football field for his senior season, where he led the Governors to a 12-0 record and the program's sixth-straight Class 11AA state championship, breaking South Dakota's all-time passing record in the process.
That final push caught the Ohio State coaching staff's attention, and after hearing from the Buckeyes in early October, Kienholz visited in November. Just a few weeks later, Kienholz de-committed from Washington and committed to Ohio State.
"At the time (when Kienholz first committed), Washington was the highest (on my list)," Kienholz explained. "I had the best feeling with the coaches there and kept a good contact with them."
But when the opportunity to join a program that has been a national semifinalist in three of the past four seasons (national runner-up in 2020-21), it was an opportunity Kienholz couldn't turn down.
"All the coaches are really good guys, they all want to win, and it's just something that I want to be a part of," Kienholz said. "Something my mom, my coach and even Washington pushed for was finding something that I wanted and that I thought would be best for me. I feel Ohio State is that college."
However, he's savoring the time before he packs his bags for the next chapter.
With Kienholz leading a talented crew, the Pierre boys basketball team is battling for position in a crowded Class AA field, but wouldn't be a shock to contend should the Govs make the state tournament.
Come springtime, Kienholz will put the finishing touches on his prep athletic career from the baseball diamond. However, Legion summer baseball isn't in the cards for the standout shortstop, as he'll report to Columbus in early June.
With so much activity — Kienholz squeezed in an appearance at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio in early January, throwing a pair of touchdowns — not to mention anticipation, Kienholz admitted it's been a little difficult to stay focused on the short term. But with it comes a great deal of appreciation for the future he's been afforded.
"The craziest part was getting the looks from all the big-time colleges across the country," Kienholz said. "It's a little stressful, but I'm grateful for it because not a lot of people get the opportunity to do this. I get to go college for free and also go play football."
Sioux Falls Christian girls not worried about ‘outside noise’ in ‘stacked’ Class A
SIOUX FALLS — Head coach Dan DeJong may not think about it, but Sioux Falls Christian made a statement at the DWU Classic.
With a 37-32 win over Class A No. 5-ranked St. Thomas More on Feb. 10, the Chargers vaulted back into the South Dakota Prep Media basketball poll at No. 4 and remain there two weeks later with an 18-2 record.
But the win over STM was more than just a win that put the rest of Class A on notice. With 37 points, it was the lone win on the season the Chargers didn’t post at least 50 points, using a different style of play to down last year’s state champion.
“That’s usually not the type of game that we like to play. However, we did a good job playing their type of game”, DeJong said. “We like to be able to press, to get up into your shorts and get up and down a little bit more. So it’s fun to be able to play a different style and still be able to get a win.”
The Chargers run a 2-2-1 press that DeJong said they’ve gotten better at throughout the season. Against most teams, DeJong said the press speeds their opponents up, leading to turnovers and easy transition baskets for his squad.
On top of improving on the press, Sioux Falls Christian has gotten better at running its motion offense as the season has gone along. Usually Ellie Lems is the leading scorer, but when STM limited her to three shots and four points, the Chargers showed off their depth with five other players cracking the scoreboard in the win.
“It just shows us that we’re able to adapt,” DeJong said of getting a win despite playing a different style.
While Lems is usually at the top of box score, DeJong said the Chargers feature multiple girls that average somewhere in the five- to 10-point range, and that it’s a different girl almost every game that will give them around 10 points. He cited Brenna Beyke as a key shooter off the bench and Peyton Poppema as another consistent contributor in the starting lineup.
The Chargers closed out the regular season winners of five straight, with their only losses coming to No. 2 Vermillion on Feb. 2 and No. 3 Wagner on Dec. 29. But DeJong said his team isn’t focused on who it lost to or who it beat. Rather, his team is focused on itself.
“Class A is so stacked,” DeJong said. “We don’t worry about anything else, we don’t worry about any of the outside noise. We show up, we go to work, we try to get better every single day and that’s one thing that we can control.”
Three that impressed
A look at the top team performances of the week.
- Lower Brule boys: Don't look now, but with less than a week remaining in the regular season, the team atop Class B's seed-point standings isn't No. 1-ranked Aberdeen Christian, defending champion De Smet or perennial contender White River; it's Lower Brule. The Sioux wrapped up their regular season schedule over the weekend by taking down a 15-win Wolsey-Wessington squad. A week earlier, they knocked off White River at the DWU Classic, and the week before that it was 13-win Wessington Springs. Starting with three wins in three days at the Dakota Oyate Challenge, Lower Brule will enter the playoffs having rattled off eight wins in a row.
- Ethan girls: Since much of the attention has been on the top two ranked teams — Viborg-Hurley and Wolsey-Wessington — in Class B, some might be surprised to see the Rustlers in claiming the No. 2 seed in the postseason. Somewhat quietly, Ethan has piled up a squeaky-clean resume, with a 17-2 record that includes a 14-0 mark against other Class B teams (losses to Region 5A opponents Wagner and Hanson) and an active 12-game win streak. Down the stretch, the Rustlers defeated four straight teams with double-digit wins, headlined by a 15-point defeat of Andes Central/Dakota Christian, another top seed in its region.
- Sioux Falls Washington boys: Talk about making a statement. The Warriors put all of Class AA on notice by knocking off three straight top-five-ranked opponents — No. 3 Mitchell, No. 5 Sioux Falls Roosevelt and No. 1 (and previously unbeaten) — in the span of just five days. What's more, Washington won all three without scoring more than 49 points. If the Warriors can keep up that level of defense, there won't be a game they aren't in down the stretch.
What we’re watching
Three games we’re watching in the coming week with a focus on the final days of the boys basketball regular season as girls regional tournaments ramp up:
- Viborg-Hurley at Dell Rapids St. Mary, Monday, Feb. 20: In a last-week postseason tune-up, this pair of top-15 Class B programs look to bolster their final seed position. A win would be more impactful for DRSM, which could vault into second position within Region 3B as well as sneak into the overall top 10 if everything falls in its favor. For Viborg-Hurley, already assured of the top spot in Region 4B, it's a chance to extend a 10-game winning streak and cement itself as a challenger for the Class B crown.
- Yankton at Sioux Falls Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 21: Perhaps the two hottest teams in Class AA boys basketball meet in a top-five clash with significant postseason seeding implications. On the visitor's side, the Bucks have won eight games in a row. Meanwhile, the Warriors are own their own five-game win streak. Yankton enters the week at No. 4 in the seed-point standings with Washington right behind at No. 5.
- Lennox at Dakota Valley, Friday, Feb. 24: Lennox has largely had its way this season but will learn how it stacks up against the program that currently sets the standard in Class A. Dakota Valley comes in riding a 46-game winning streak as the Region 4A foes collide to close the regular season.