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State A basketball notebook: Chamberlain, MVP boast family connections

SIOUX FALLS--Moments after a crushing three-point loss to St. Thomas More in the consolation semifinals of the Class A state basketball tournament on Friday, Chamberlain head coach Adam Nelson expressed how proud he was of his team for playing it...

Chamberlain head coach Adam Nelson, center, watches the action during a game against St. Thomas More at the Class A state tournament on Friday at the Premier Center in Sioux Falls. Also pictured is Chamberlain assistant Steve Nelson, second from right. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Chamberlain head coach Adam Nelson, center, watches the action during a game against St. Thomas More at the Class A state tournament on Friday at the Premier Center in Sioux Falls. Also pictured is Chamberlain assistant Steve Nelson, second from right. (Matt Gade / Republic)

SIOUX FALLS-Moments after a crushing three-point loss to St. Thomas More in the consolation semifinals of the Class A state basketball tournament on Friday, Chamberlain head coach Adam Nelson expressed how proud he was of his team for playing its hardest.

The pride didn't stop there, as Chamberlain assistant coach Steve Nelson, Adam's father, expressed how proud he is of his son and the team he's helped form.

Chamberlain entered the state tournament with title aspirations and two tough losses have derailed that goal, but Steve reflected on how blessed he is to be able to share both the highs and lows with his son on the Chamberlain sideline.

"It's been great and very rewarding," Steve said on Friday. "The way he handles the kids and the way he coaches, I don't know how much prouder a person could be. It's been great to be a part of this staff."

In just his third season as the head coach in Chamberlain, Adam has helped guide the Cubs to back-to-back state tournaments and has an all-time coaching record of 52-18 heading into today's seventh-place matchup against Mount Vernon/Plankinton.

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"It's great to have him there for guidance and not a lot of people get that opportunity," Adam said about coaching with his father. "We share a lot of ideas and we are trying to establish something in Chamberlain."

Steve was an assistant for under former Chamberlain head coach Jim Frederick, who coached both Adam and fellow Chamberlain assistant coach Steve Schoenhard. Adam and Schoenhard were key players when they helped lead the Cubs to a runner-up finish at the Class A state tournament in 2000.

"We bleed red, we are Chamberlain Cub basketball and that's what we are about," Steve said. "It's not about Adam. He's all about Chamberlain basketball and that's it. It's about the team and that's a tribute to him as a fine man."

After Adam coached six years in Sisseton and secured the Chamberlain job, Steve said there's no single win or loss that can match how special sharing the sideline with his son has been.

"The only kid has been close to putting as much time as Adam did as a player is (current Chamberlain senior) Seth Friesz. Adam puts that same dedication into coaching and he's there at the gym at 6 a.m. in the summer nearly every day," Steve said. "He's there for those kids and he respects the kids. He is a great role model for the kids. Being able to see, as a father, there are no words to describe that."

Rihanek brothers thrive for Titans

Today's seventh-place game against Chamberlain will mark the end of a special era for Mount Vernon/Plankinton senior Devin Rihanek.

Rihanek, a 5-foot-11 senior forward, will play his last game as a Titan, but more importantly, it'll likely be the last game he plays with his younger brother-junior Dane Rihanek.

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"It's very special and it's been very meaningful getting to play with my brother," Devin said after Friday's 56-37 loss to Dakota Valley. "I'm not going to be able to do it next year. It's been exciting to play with him and I'm going to miss it."

Both brothers have been key pieces for the Titans, who are playing in their third straight Class A state tournament. Devin averages 12.7 points and eight rebounds per game, while Dane averages 11.3 points per game.

"I can't say enough about them, along with all our seniors" said MVP coach Eric Denning. "They are two very close brothers and they have each other's back. They each are a one-man machine and are great kids."

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