RAPID CITY — Greetings from Rapid City!
The Class AA girls and boys state basketball tournaments will get underway out here on the west side of the state Thursday at Barnett Arena and the Ice Arena.
Here is an assortment of odds-and-ends ahead of tomorrow’s quarterfinals.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: Class AA state tournaments
► You can stream all the Class AA state tournament games through our website compliments of SDPB. The games at the the Ice Arena (including Roosevelt-O’Gorman) will be broadcast exclusively online, so if you’re interested in that matchup (you probably should be. It’ll be pretty good), I recommend bookmarking this page.
► Craig Mattick, John Gaskins and I will be previewing Thursday’s quarterfinal matchups LIVE on the Argus Sports Facebook page tomorrow afternoon around 12:45 central. Y’all should tune in.
► Follow Argus_Sports on the Snapchat. We’ll be v. active on that platform over the coming days.
WIDE OPEN GIRLS BRACKET
Roosevelt coach Dave Maxwell pointed something out during our interview: Aside from Harrisburg, three of the top four seeds lost at least once during the season to their quarterfinal opponent. His Rough Riders fell to No. 7 O’Gorman in districts, No. 3 Brandon Valley fell to No. 6 Aberdeen Central in double overtime late in the year and No. 4 Rapid City Central actually lost twice to No. 5 Rapid City Stevens.
Even No. 1 Harrisburg, which swept past No. 8 Pierre during the regular season, is not necessarily an overwhelming favorite in its opener. The Governors more than held their own against the Tigers. They lost by one (60-59) in their first meeting on Feb. 4, then were within striking distance before the Tigers managed to pull away for a 63-54 win in the rematch on Feb. 17.
CINDERELLAS LURK IN BOYS BRACKET
On paper, the top two seeds in the boys bracket, O’Gorman and Brookings, are the clear-cut favorites. Both teams have built strong resumes. Though the Bobcats not have the same amount of state tournament experience on their roster as the Knights, they are enjoying one of their most successful seasons in recent memory, having won the ESD for the first time since the late 80s.
However, neither team has a clear path to the championship game.
We’ll start with O’Gorman.
Its first opponent, Harrisburg, is a textbook Cinderella team. The Tigers have found new life late in the season and knocked off one top-ranked team to reach this point of the season (they beat top-seeded Brandon Valley in the District 2AA semifinals). They’ve basically been playing with house money these past few weeks and seem to be heating up at just the right time.
Another team that’s found its stride — and one which has something of a knack for peaking come tournament time — are the Lincoln Patriots. I wrote about their recent history in my Class AA preview.
On the bottom half of the bracket, Brookings should be able to handle Aberdeen Central. Sure, things could get a little tricky if Cole Bergan catches fire, but the Golden Eagles are sort of stumbling into the tournament. They had lost four of five before beating winless Mitchell in the District 3AA 3rd place game to extend their season, and Sturgis Brown in the Region 2AA championship to punch their ticket to state.
Barring something crazy happening, the Bobcats’ biggest hurdle will come in the semifinals where Rapid City Stevens will likely be lurking. The Raiders feature a prolific talent in guard Mason Archambault, who enters his final state tournament averaging 18.0 points per game with 76 assists and 41 steals. He’s a dangerous talent that could spark Stevens to a run through the right side of the bracket.
CAN’T MISS MATCHUP
No. 4 Rapid City Central vs. No. 5 Rapid City Stevens, 6 p.m. at Barnett Arena — For as much trouble as Pierre caused Harrisburg during the season, I don’t think that game will end up being that close. This one, however, should be high-quality entertainment. It’s a primetime game pitting the host schools against one another for the fourth time this season. Their last meeting, which came in the District 4AA championship, saw Stevens grind out a 52-45 win.
No. 1 O’Gorman vs. No. 8 Harrisburg, 4 p.m. at Barnett Arena — This will be the third time I’ve written it, which almost guarantees that this game will suck, but don’t sleep on the Tigers. They just may have one more run in them. If nothing else, maybe this game will be closer than most are anticipating.
Thanks for reading!
Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen .