This is it.
The Class AA State Boys’ Basketball Tournament gets under way Thursday at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City.
Second-seeded Brookings (19-4) faces a familiar foe in seventh-seeded Aberdeen Central (10-13) in the quarterfinals at 4 p.m. CT in the Ice Arena.
“Right now we’re just trying to keep them focused on one game at a time,” BHS coach Travis Engebretson said Monday night. “We had a really good practice tonight.
“With playing a team you’ve beat twice, it’s kind of hard to stay focused with that. But Aberdeen is good. They have Cole Bergan, who’s a really good basketball player. They’re getting healthy. Nate Rook, who is their point guard, didn’t play either game against us this season. He kind of brings a different gear for their team and he’s a pretty good point guard for them.”
The Bobcats held off a late Golden Eagle rally for a 49-48 home win Jan. 17 and then prevailed 55-44 on the road Feb. 21.
“I would probably compare it to the Watertown district game in the fact that personnel-wise, you know everything,” Engebretson added when asked about facing Aberdeen Central for a third time this year. “It’s one of those basketball games where I think it’s going to come down to a few plays, so obviously, we have to make sure we stay focused with our game plan and continue trying to be consistent on the offensive end.”
A pair of All-Eastern South Dakota Conference selections pace a balanced Bobcat offense.
Josh Mohs averages 13 points, 3.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. He’s shooting 47 percent from the field, including 41 percent from 3-point range with a team-best 28 makes.
Brennan Carlson adds 12.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and one steal per contest. He is making 53 percent of his shots from the field.
Devin Coughlin, an All-ESD honorable mention, averages 8.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists while shooting 43 percent. He has 27 3s.
Carter Holm is also shooting 43 percent and putting up 8.9 points per game to go along with 4.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists.
“On any given night, there are seven kids that can put some points on the board,” Engebretson noted. “It puts a lot of pressure on a defense when every time a kid catches the ball he’s a threat to shoot or a threat to put the ball on the floor. So it’s definitely a good quality for us to have – the fact that we have a lot of guys that are pretty versatile and at the same time they’re a threat to score baskets.
“I think a big part of it is the fact that our kids play unselfishly on the offensive end. We’re averaging about 13-14 assists per game, and that’s a pretty high number.”
The fifth starter, Jameson Meyer, has taken 13 charges on the defensive end. He adds two points and 1.6 boards per contest.
Sophomore Drew Cole is contributing 5.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game off the bench. He’s shooting 50 percent from the field (40-of-80 on field goals, including 20-of-40 from long range) and 88.9 percent (16-of-18) at the free-throw line.
Also reserves, Sam Wilber averages 4.2 points and 2.2 rebounds; and Ryan Argust, who missed a pair of games earlier in the year, averages 1.7 points and 1.1 rebounds.
Seven of the Bobcats’ eight primary contributors are seniors. The upperclassmen combined for 88.9 percent of the team’s points – 50.4 per game.
Points 56.7 46.7
FG percentage 45.1% 39.3%
3-point percentage 37.2% 33.2%
Turnovers 9.1 9.3
Rebounds 29.4 21.8
The Golden Eagles, on the other hand, have just one senior – Cannon Hannigan, who puts up 10.8 points per game off the bench – as their roster is primarily made up of juniors.
Bergan, a 6-foot-7 junior, is a force in the paint, averaging 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and three assists. He shoots 50 percent from the field and 75 percent at the line.
Jonah Dohrer adds 8.6 ppg; Rook 8.1 ppg in limited action; Collin Stoebner 5.7 ppg; Brandon Kusler 5.3 ppg; Christian Goetz 4.8 ppg; Andrew Bergan 3.7 ppg; and Mason Flakus 1.5 ppg.
They’re all juniors, with the exception of the younger Bergan, a freshman.
Aberdeen Central has outscored its opponents an average of 57.5-56 per game and holds a slight advantage on the glass, 26.2-26.1, this season.
As for the Bobcat defense, it’s pretty solid.
“I think a big part of it is the fact that we have smart basketball players. They buy into the game plan,” Engebretson said. “We spend a lot of time watching film; we spend a lot of time with our scouting reports in practice; and I think that has a lot to do with it. I think a lot it has to do with the fact that they’re just savvy basketball players.
“When we get on the court, they know where to help off of; they know where to go; and at the same time, it’s just unselfish basketball. Defensively, they play well together and have just done a really good job of executing a game plan.”
No. 2 seed
Being a No. 2 seed can bring added pressure but it can also lead to optimism.
“These kids have been so level-headed; they’ve been so much about the process and just playing one game at a time,” Engebretson added. “I don’t really think that’s going to affect us a lot.
“You know, it’s exciting because we’re in a position that we haven’t been in in a while and looking forward to the challenge and at the same time going up there with the thought that we’re going to put three good games together.”
How they got here
The Bobcats have had win streaks of seven, five, four and two games this season.
They went 14-2 while winning the ESD title – their lone losses were 67-62 in overtime at Huron on Jan. 7 and 54-47 to Watertown on Jan. 27.
Brookings also fell 62-48 to Sioux Falls O’Gorman on Feb. 17.
The Bobcats beat Watertown, 49-44, to open the District 1AA Tournament but dropped a 53-48 decision at O’Gorman in the 1AA final.
They defeated Brandon Valley, 68-56, in the Region 1AA game to complete a three-game season sweep of the Lynx, who took second in the ESD standings, and qualify for state.
The Bobcats are 8-3 against the rest of the teams in the state tourney field this season – 2-0 versus Aberdeen Central, Pierre and Harrisburg; 1-0 against Sioux Falls Lincoln; 1-1 in matchups with Huron; and 0-2 in games played against the top-seeded Knights. Brookings did not face Rapid City Stevens.
The Golden Eagles lost their District 3AA opener, 64-55, at Pierre. They beat winless Mitchell, 75-52, in the third-place game and prevailed by a 59-46 margin at Sturgis in a Region 2AA game.
Brookings is making its 35th trip to the state boys’ basketball tournament.
Champion (5): 1946, 1952, 1962, 1968, 1987.
Runner-up (4): 1949, 1963, 1969, 1986.
Brookings placed fifth in its past two appearances – 2012 and 2013.
The Bobcats were the No. 3 seed in 2013, falling 53-48 to Sioux Falls Lincoln in their opener before bouncing back to beat Rapid City Central, 73-61, and Huron, 61-54.
Brookings was the fifth seed in 2012 and dropped a 53-47 quarterfinal game to Sioux Falls Washington. It then toppled Rapid City Central, 78-59, and Sioux Falls Roosevelt, 56-47.
Other quarterfinal games
No. 1 Sioux Falls O’Gorman (19-3) vs. No. 8 Harrisburg (12-12)
4 p.m., Barnett Arena
Augustana commit Matt Cartwright leads the Knights – and all state tourney participants – with 20.9 points per game. He shoots 55 percent from the field and 84 percent at the foul line.
JP Costello adds 13.3 points for the District 1AA champs, whose lone in-state loss was a 64-54 home setback to Rapid City Stevens on Jan. 6.
OG also fell 92-71 to the IMG Academy (Fla.) and 69-56 to Minneapolis North Community during an event at the Sanford Pentagon on Dec. 30 and 31, but have picked up 14 consecutive victories since.
The Tigers, who took second in District 2AA as the No. 4 seed and then beat one-win Sioux Falls Roosevelt to get to state, have a balanced offense. Brand VanHolland averages 9.3 points, Ace Zorr 8.2, Justis Clayton 8.1, Wil Johnson 7.8, Chase Altenburg 7.0 and Nick Hoyt 6.4
Harrisburg has won eight of its last nine games.
The teams have not met this season.
No. 4 Huron (17-6) vs. No. 5 Sioux Falls Lincoln (11-10)
8 p.m., Barnett Arena
The Tigers took a 10-game win streak into the District 3AA championship before getting upended 56-52 by Pierre. They drilled Rapid City Central, 57-36, to advance to the dance.
Clay Korkow averages 12.7 points and 4.7 rebounds. Tye Evers picks up 12.2 points and five boards per game. Hylan Heinz has contributed 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest.
The Patriots won a pair of road games, beating Sioux Falls Washington, 62-60, and Harrisburg, 45-41, to take the District 2AA title as the third seed.
Diang Gatluak puts up 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 48 percent from the field.
Lincoln’s other four starters average nine or more points – Dillon Barrow is at 9.5 ppg; Carson Coulter 9.2 ppg; Alex Glanzer 9.1 ppg; and Simon Higgason 9.0 ppg.
Lincoln has won seven of its last eight games.
The teams have not met this season.
No. 3 Rapid City Stevens (16-5) vs. No. 6 Pierre (12-10)
8 p.m., Ice Arena
The Raiders’ current five-game win streak began with a 60-44 home defeat of the Governors on Feb. 14. They beat the Golden Eagles, 72-65, in their regular-season finale on Feb. 18.
Stevens cruised past cross-town rival Central, 65-49, in the District 4AA semifinals and edged Sturgis 44-42 in the final.
Senior Mason Archambault scores 18 points per game while shooting 48 percent from the field and 88 percent at the stripe.
Jacob Martin adds 14.1 points and 4.4 rebounds for Stevens.
Stevens is led by second-year head coach Chris Stoebner, a member of South Dakota State’s 1,000-point club.
The Raiders went 4-3 versus the Sioux Falls Class AA schools, including a split with O’Gorman – they lost the second meeting, 71-65, at home on Jan. 21.
The Governors had a rollercoaster-type season, which included a pair of three-game win streaks. The No. 2 seed in District 3AA, they beat Aberdeen Central, 64-55, and top-seeded Huron, 56-52, to take the title.
Brad Dean (19) and Peyton Zabel (17) combine for 36 points per game. Zabel is also averaging 9.1 rebounds.
The Raiders and Governors are on the same half of the bracket as the Bobcats and Golden Eagles.
Notes: The top four seeds have a combined 71-18 record while the bottom four seeds are 45-45. … The Class AA State Girls’ Basketball Tournament is also being contested this week at the RPCC.
CLASS AA STATE BOYS’ BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, Rapid City
No. 1 Sioux Falls O’Gorman (19-3) vs. No. 8 Harrisburg (12-12), 4 p.m. CT [Barnett Arena]
No. 2 Brookings (19-4) vs. No. 7 Aberdeen Central (10-13), 4 p.m. [Ice Arena]
No. 4 Huron (17-6) vs. No. 5 Sioux Falls Lincoln (11-10), 8 p.m. [Barnett Arena]
No. 3 Rapid City Stevens (16-5) vs. No. 6 Pierre (12-10), 8 p.m. [Ice Arena]
SFO/Harrisburg loser vs. Huron/SFL loser, 1:45 p.m. [Ice Arena]
Brookings/AC loser vs. RCS/Pierre loser, 1:45 p.m. [Barnett Arena]
SFO/Harrisburg winner vs. Huron/SFL winner, 5:45 p.m. [Barnett Arena]
Brookings/AC winner vs. RCS/Pierre winner, 9:15 p.m. [Barnett Arena]
Seventh place – 12:45 p.m. [Ice Arena]
Fifth place – 12:45 p.m. [Barnett Arena]
Third place – 4:15 p.m. [Barnett Arena]
Championship – 8:30 p.m. [Barnett Arena]
CLASS AA STATE GIRLS’ BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, Rapid City
No. 1 Harrisburg (21-1) vs. No. 8 Pierre (10-13), 2 p.m. [Barnett Arena]
No. 2 Sioux Falls Roosevelt (17-6) vs. No. 7 Sioux Falls O’Gorman (11-11), 2 p.m. [Ice Arena]
No. 4 Rapid City Central (16-7) vs. No. 5 Rapid City Stevens (15-6), 6 p.m. [Barnett Arena]
No. 3 Brandon Valley (19-4) vs. No. 6 Aberdeen Central (17-5), 6 p.m. [Ice Arena]
Harrisburg/Pierre loser vs. RCC/RCS loser, noon [Ice Arena]
SFR/SFO loser vs. BV/AC loser, noon [Barnett Arena]
Harrisburg/Pierre winner vs. RCC/RCS winner, 4 p.m. [Barnett Arena]
SFR/SFO winner vs. BV/AC winner, 7:30 p.m. [Barnett Arena]
Seventh place – 11 a.m. [Ice Arena]
Fifth place – 11 a.m. [Barnett Arena]
Third place – 2:30 p.m. [Barnett Arena]
Championship – 5 p.m. [Barnett Arena]