The Argus Leader highlights the top girls and boys basketball players of the year with its annual First and Second Five teams.
Here’s who made this year’s girls First and Second Five teams. Check back Friday morning for the boys teams.
Players are listed in alphabetical order.
Senior | 6-1 | Forward
The Argus Leader First Five Player of the Year was an unstoppable force for the Class B runners-up. Myah Selland capped her high school career by pouring in 20 points on 59 percent shooting, 7.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. On defense, she accounted for 84 steals and 60 blocks.
Opposing defenses knew who the ball was going to, but only a select few were able to even slow down the South Dakota State commit.
“She’s had the radar on her since she was a freshman,” coach Tim McCain said. “She’s adapted well to it. She’s seen various types of defenses – box-and-ones, sometimes triangle-and-twos – and she handles herself well. She doesn’t really get frustrated with that. She knows she’s going to see the best defensive player the other team has and they’re going to try to stop her.”
MORE ON MYAH: Selland’s small-town appeal looms large
Senior | 6-0 | Guard
When they sat down to compile stats at the end of the season, Lincoln coach Matt Daly and his staff came to a rather remarkable realization.
Lost in the excitement of her clearing Steph Schueler’s career scoring record and matching her own single-season scoring mark, senior Anna Brecht had also become the program’s all-time leading rebounder.
“Anna’s a well-rounded basketball player,” Daly said. “She’s also been a part of four team records since she’s been here, so in her career, she has probably been a part of seven school records – and they’re not just scoring records. That’s kind of the fun thing.”
Armed with a lethal jump shot and a willingness to attack the basket, Brecht led Class AA in scoring, averaging 23.9 points per game on 41 percent shooting. She also pulled in six rebounds per game and shot 82 percent from the free throw line.
For her career, the Wisconsin-Green Bay commit graduates with 1,662 points, over 300 more than Schueler, whose scoring record had stood since 1986.
“Anna’s a special player,” Daly said. “We really feel like we have a great basketball culture that’s developing here at Lincoln and players like Anna with her work ethic and determination have really helped that.”
Junior | 6-0 | Forward
The centerpiece for Aberdeen Central, Paiton Burckhard was tasked with helping to fill the void left by the loss of six seniors from last year’s state championship squad. But the heightened expectations did little to deter the junior forward, who averaged a double-double with 19.5 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Golden Eagles.
“Paiton tends to be pretty vocal as a leader,” coach Dawn Seiler said. “She’s always pulling kids in to get them to work harder and encouraging them. With her, the focus is on the team and that really helps the other kids buy in.”
Burckhard, a Second Five selection last season, focused on expanding her game in 2016-17, honing in on aspects that would complement her skillset in the post and natural athleticism.
FROM THIS SEASON: Burckhard helps Golden Eagles fight off Lynx
A South Dakota State commit, Burckhard had arguably the best single-game performance at this year’s Class AA tournament, erupting for 38 points in a 51-43 win over Brandon Valley in the quarterfinals.
“She was playing with so much passion,” Seiler said of Burckhard, who had to overcome an injury in January. “She is one of those kids who is always looking for ways to get better and the development of some of that outside game has really made her a tough guard for other teams.”
Senior | 5-11 | Guard
It was Dru Gylten’s turn to run the show in 2016-17.
The latest in a line of Division I recruits from St. Thomas More, Gylten led by example. A pure playmaker, she excels at creating opportunities for her teammates and is a shutdown defender.
Though the face of the team changed, the final result was the same: Another Class A championship.
“One of the special things Dru brings is her basketball knowledge,” coach Brandon Kandolin said. “Her ability to anticipate is quite remarkable. She can see plays developing early on the offensive end and can get her teammates involved by her creativity.”
An infectiously energetic presence, Gylten accumulated 233 points and dished out 3.9 assists per game. Defensively, she averaged 4.2 steals for a Cavaliers team that allowed just 29 points per game.
The future Utah Ute showed off her scoring prowess in the state quarterfinals against Madison, pouring in a game-high 29 points on 12 of 14 shooting with five 3-pointers.
Though an injury prevented her from playing in the championship game against Lennox, Gylten made one final appearance, entering the game to dribble out the final eight seconds on the Cavs’ fourth consecutive state championship.
Senior | 5-11 | Forward
Joie Spier literally rewrote the Oldham-Ramona/Rutland record book in 2016-17.
The Northern State commit claimed the school’s single-season records for points (501), 3-point percentage (49 percent) and assists (93). She also set, then reset her own single-game scoring record, posting 36 points in January against Estelline, then besting that mark with a 38-point effort in the District 7B championship game against Chester.
Spier led Class B in both points (22 ppg) and rebounds (14 rpg), to go with four steals, four assists and four blocks per game.
“Joie absolutely refuses to quit,” coach Sara Holmberg said. “She will continuously and tenaciously work on her weaknesses until they are no longer a weakness of hers. She’s always the one in those big moments and she’s played so much basketball that no moment is too big for her at this point.”
For her career, Spier graduates atop the all-time list in points (1,627), rebounds (1,259), assists (287) and blocks (279). She fell 10 steals shy of the program record.
“When you have a role model like Joie, kids want to be like her,” Holmberg said. “For her setting that bar so high, it makes those younger kids want to do better, to be better.”
Senior | 5-7 | Guard
One of just two returning starters, Ashlee Beacom provided a steady presence through what was a roller-coaster season for the Class AA champions.
The senior guard averaged nearly 11 points per game and knocked down 48 of 117 3-point attempts. She set a school record from behind the arc in early February, draining eight 3-pointers in a rout of Sioux City East.
“Ashlee was just steady for us all year,” coach Kent Kolsrud said. “She had a really, really good regular season and led us through the ups-and-downs.”
MORE ON ASHLEE: Cinderella dressed in blue
It was a solid regular season for Beacom, but in a trend that came to define the 2016-17 O’Gorman Knights, she played her best basketball at the state tournament. Beacom averaged 11 points over three games. In the championship against Harrisburg, she logged 11 points, five assists, three steals and a pair of blocks.
“Throughout the district tournament and in the state tournament, Ashlee made huge plays on both ends of the court,” Kolsrud said. “She played with great poise and great composure. She was ready for the big moments and continued to perform in the clutch the bigger the games got.”
Junior | 6-2 | Center
In order to duplicate the success she enjoyed last season, Morgan Koepsell had to adjust to her role as the centerpiece of McCook Central/Montrose’s offense. A year older and a season wiser, Koepsell not only adjusted to her position within the program, she embraced it, building confidence as the season progressed.
Despite being consistently double-teamed, the 6-foot-2 center averaged 21.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. She also found a way to improve upon her field goal percentage from a year ago, knocking down her shots from the field at a 62 percent clip (.644 on 2-point field goals).
“She’s just matured so much,” coach Doug Durfee said. “Morgan knows that she is best offensive weapon. She just kind of took that as a challenge. I just think she really embraced it and stepped up to the challenge: ‘Try to stop me, but I’m going to keep pushing through.’ She just kind of challenged herself a little bit.”
Looking ahead, Koepsell has been drawing attention from colleges since her freshman year, and hopes to make a decision by the start of her senior season.
Senior | 5-9 | Guard
2016-17 marked the completion of Chloe Lamb’s transformation as a basketball player. Primarily a distributor when she first stepped onto the floor, Lamb started to become more aggressive offensively, attacking the basket more frequently. This season, she blossomed into a full-fledged scoring threat, averaging 21 points with a Class B-best 187 field goals made. She rounded out her statline with six assists and four steals per game.
Lamb’s efforts resulted in a second consecutive Class B championship for Sully Buttes.
“For her and Racquel (Wientjes), our two seniors, to go back-to-back like that, it was really special,” coach Mark Senftner said. “Chloe has been so instrumental in helping these young kids develop and gain confidence as the year went on.”
Lamb graduates as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,913 points. She will continue her playing career at the University of South Dakota.
“Any time that you can move on, especially at that level, and get an education – that’s very exciting,” Senftner said. “I can’t wait to see her game grow as she gets challenged there. I can’t wait to see her grow as an individual and as a basketball player.”
Senior | 5-10 | Forward
A unique combination of size and athleticism, Haley Rithmiller’s lightning-quick reaction time made her a danger no matter where she was on the floor. The Northern State commit averaged 7.5 steals and nearly 11 rebounds per game last year for third-place finisher Webster.
“Haley’s reaction time – I don’t know how to explain it,” coach Jared Vergeldt said. “She has such a natural instinct for the game, and on top of that she’s such a physical player. A pass will be made and she’s already gone with it – a steal. She explodes so fast. Sometimes you just stand back on the sideline and ask how do you do that?”
Rithmiller contributed offensively, as well, averaging 21.5 points per game on 48.5 percent shooting.
For her career – which began her eighth-grade year, but spanned just three high school seasons due to injury – Rithmiller accumulated 1,832 points and 934 rebounds.
“There would be games when she would just take over,” Vergeldt said. “She’s so highly competitive. There are times when you can tell that she’s had enough and next thing you know we’re up by 20 points because she’s gone on a tear.”
Senior | 6-1 | Forward
On the court, Sami Slaughter was the anchor for Class AA runner-up Harrisburg.
In her final year of organized basketball (she’s headed to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to play volleyball), Slaughter registered 41 blocks, and averaged 11.3 points per game on 43 percent shooting. She also accounted for over three assists per game.
For her career – which spanned just three full seasons – Slaughter accumulated 827 points and graduates as the program’s all-time blocks leader with 165.
“To be able to compile that many points, that many blocks in just three seasons is impressive,” coach Nick Mayer said. “Sami has got so many skills and brings so many attributes to our team, it’s been special to be able to coach her, that’s for sure.”
MORE ON SAMI: Slaughter’s last hurrah
Slaughter has also made an impact within the community, volunteering and at the Humane Society of Sioux Falls and as a youth volleyball and basketball coach.
“The leader that she is for our young kids on the team and in the community, they look up to her and they love her,” Mayer said. “She’s got such a great personality, a great character kid. She’s meant the world to this program and we’re going to miss her.”
Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen .