As worthy rivals in a loaded Region 3, the fates of Sioux Falls Christian and Dell Rapids were tied from the season’s start to finish. When they met for the 3A title — with the winner advancing to the state tournament — it was a game for the ages in front of 4,000 people inside a packed Elmen Center in Sioux Falls.
The Chargers, with help from Chad Barkema’s late free throws, eked out the win and rode the wave of momentum all the way to the program’s first state championship. But before Barkema’s heroics, SFC first had to limit the effectiveness Ty Hoglund, Dell Rapids’ senior point guard at the top of his game in a banner season.
For their efforts, and because of their value on two of the state’s top teams, Hoglund and Barkema were named to this year’s Class A boys all-state first-team, as chosen by the South Dakota Basketball Coaches Association.
Joining them on the first team are Jacob Hinker of Lennox, Noah Vettrus of West Central, Ethan Freidel of Tea Area and Tayt Vincent of Sioux Valley.
The 6-foot-3 Hoglund electrified the state’s hoops scene this season with 26.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 3.1 assists per game. Hoglund scored with efficiency — shooting 51 percent from the field — and was a constant threat to create plays in transition. The Dakota Wesleyan recruit also carved his name into the Dell Rapids record books in five different categories: career points (1,600, on the dot), points in a season (604), career three-pointers (160), career steals (199) and points in a game (44 against Tea Area on Dec. 18).
“It starts with all the hours of hard work he’s put in to make himself the basketball player that he is,” said Coach Jason Fersdahl. “He’s going to be a great college player as well — he’s very driven. He’s the hardest worker at all times when he’s on the floor — in every practice and in every game.”
Barkema’s hard work paid similar dividends for Sioux Falls Christian, though the Chargers had arguably more pieces to disperse the load. Barkema turned in 16.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game this season, but offered value well beyond the numbers.
“I think Chad is one of the best in the state at any level,” said Coach Mike Schouten. “His numbers may not be gaudy, but it’s because of the team we had and because he’s just an unselfish player. If he’d wanted to, he could have scored more. But he’s a team player and was always willing to make that extra pass to a teammate instead of taking the shot himself.”
Barkema also came up big in the team’s biggest moments, whether in the state tournament — where he averaged 18.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.7 blocks a game — or against Dells in the 3A championship, or in his full-court alley-oop to teammate Keegan Van Egdom in a last-second win over Western Christian on Feb. 11.
The 6-foot-3 Hinker was a jack-of-all-trades for Lennox and averaged 20.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists in his senior campaign. Another Dakota Wesleyan recruit, Hinker eclipsed 1,200 career points and nearly 700 rebounds. His versatility gave the Orioles a true impact player at both ends of the court.
“Jacob started off as more of a wing player, but he became a hybrid ‘point-forward’ for us,” said Coach Paul McVey. “Defensively he was a power forward charged with grabbing rebounds and guarding big guys, and offensively he created mismatch problems because he could handle and shoot the ball on the perimeter and also post-up and attack the rim with force.”
Vettrus was one of of the state’s most prolific and versatile scoring threats. The Trojan senior averaged 23.4 points a game — on an efficient 52.4 percent from the field — while chipping in an additional 6.8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.8 steals per contest. Long known as a danger from the perimeter, Vettrus took his game to new heights as a senior.
“Starting off as a freshman, Noah was primarily a shooter,” said Coach Jacob Sittig, “It changed so much that, in the end, he was known more as an attacker of the basket instead of simply an outside threat.”
Freidel, a junior, was the offensive heartbeat for the Titans. Look no further than his gaudy 42.3 percent mark (101 for 239) from three-point range. On the season, Freidel averaged 23 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.6 steals a game. As the team’s main threat, a lot of work — from Freidel and teammates — went into creating his opportunities.
“He’s a natural shooter, but what stood out this season was the work he did off the ball to get those shots,” said Coach Chris Fechner. “We ran a lot of screens for him and he will be the first to say his teammates did a lot of work for him to get those shots. He never got frustrated with seeing multiple defenses — he just seemed to work harder.”
Vincent formed one half of Sioux Valley’s dangerous one-two punch along with Collin Kramer (a second-team selection), and impacted the game in several ways for the Cossacks. The point guard averaged 18 points, 5 rebounds and 5.1 assists while shooting 53 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from beyond-the-arc.
“It is like having a coach on the floor,” said father and coach Bill Vincent. “Tayt has a great court sense, contributing to his all-around balanced game.”
Vincent is in line to push for several school records, including career points, assists and steals. The junior is already the program’s most prolific three-point shooter (180 makes).
Second-team selections to the all-state team are Kramer of Sioux Valley, Noah Huber of Clark-Willow Lake, Seth Friesz of Chamberlain, Kobey O’Rourke of Red Cloud, Cooper Williams of Vermillion and Devon Leiferman of Winner.
Third-team selections are Tate Deinert of Mt. Vernon/Plankinton, Ethan Kranhold of Sisseton, Dylan LeBrun of Flandreau, Isaac Kortmeyer of St. Thomas More, Keegan Van Egdom of Sioux Falls Christian and Grant Kohlus of Cheyenne-Eagle Butte.