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 boys First and Second Five teams.
GIRLS: First/Second Five Teams
Players are listed in alphabetical order.
Senior | 6-1 | Guard
Matt Cartwright will go down as one of the best shooters in state history.
The Argus Leader First Five Player of the Year matched a school record with 68 3-pointers. He shot 56 percent from the field overall and racked up 505 total points – second most in school history
Cartwright, along with Second Five honoree JP Costello, formed a lethal one-two punch for Sioux Falls O’Gorman, which compiled a 22-3 record on its way to the Class AA championship.
“There’s no question he’s going to go down as the most decorated player we’ve ever had to wear a Knights uniform – and we’ve had some really good ones,” coach Derek Robey said. “Just his scoring and shooting ability and the run we’ve had here – he’s very deserving of all the awards coming his way.”
MORE ON MATT: Cartwright showed grace under pressure
Senior | 6-1 | Guard
The Class A championship provided a fitting conclusion to Ethan Freidel’s career at Tea Area, but not for the reasons you might expect.
There were, of course, the 3-pointers – the long-range sharpshooter had six of ‘em – but it was a couple of shots he hit late in regulation that demonstrated just how far he’d come as a player.
With top-seeded Madison surging, Freidel put the ball on the deck and attacked the basket. It was a skill he had been working to improve over the course of his career, and in its waning moments, he put it to good use, picking up a couple of crucial 3-point plays to stifle the Bulldogs’ momentum.
CLASS A FINALS: Tea Area holds off Madison
“From his sophomore to senior year, I would say the biggest transition offensively was his being able to get by guys rather than just trying to shoot over them,” coach Chris Fechner said. “It really stood out for him in that state championship game. Two of the biggest baskets he hit down the stretch were when he put the ball on the floor, got in there and drew some and-ones.”
For the season, Freidel averaged nearly 22 points per game, knocking down field goals at a 45 percent clip and 3-pointers at a 37 percent rate. He graduates with 1,427 points, only five of which came during his freshman year. He also hit 40 percent of the 690 treys he attempted.
Senior | 6-2 | Guard
Coach Jay Drake knew he was getting a good player in AJ Plitzuweit. A steady contributor at Dixie Plains (Ky.), which won 19 games last season, the 6-foot-1 guard appeared poised for a breakout junior campaign. But it was during a two-game road swing in late December that Drake realized Plitzuweit was a special talent.
In the team’s final game before the Christmas holiday, he dropped 18 second-half points in a come-from-behind win over Tri-Valley. A little over a week later, he dropped 30 in a 71-56 win over Tea Area.
“AJ has a very high basketball IQ and understands the game,” Drake said. “He is a very complete player who is capable of scoring in a variety of ways, but it was his play on the defensive end of the floor and his rebounding as a guard that really helped elevate our team.”
Plitzuweit finished the season averaging 23.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game for a Vermillion squad which compiled a 16-4 record. For his efforts, Plitzuweit was recognized by the Dak 12 coaches as the conference MVP.
“He had a very nice season for us and was a great addition to our program,” Drake said. “But we feel he still has a tremendous upside and will continue to improve.”
Senior | 6-3 | Guard
Tayt Vincent went out guns blazing in the Sweet 16 against Dakota Valley, dropping 27 points, including the game-tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation.
Though his efforts that night did not result in a tournament berth, the outcome does not detract from Vincent’s performance in his final season. The Augustana commit accumulated 450 points on 56 percent shooting. He was dependable both as a long-range threat, knocking down 51 of his 119 3-point tries, and as a passer, averaging over seven assists per contest.
“It started out where he made the varsity team because of his ability to shoot the basketball,” SV coach Bill Vincent said of his son. “Now he is more of a complete player, a leader on the floor, making players around him better.”
MORE ON TAYT: Family bonds boost Sioux Valley star
Tayt graduates with his name attached to eight school records. He is the all-time leader in points (1,837), assists (511), 3-pointers (247), steals (241) and free-throw percentage (84.74 percent), and owns single-game records in 3-pointers (9) and steals (14) and the single-season mark for free throw percentage (88 percent).
“Tayt became the face of our program over his career,” Bill Vincent said. “He was our leader on and off the court. He has made a lasting impact on the youth of our program and our communities.”
Senior | 6-2 | Guard/forward
A crucial cog for the Class B runner-up, Bennett White averaged a double-double, accounting for 19 points and over 11 rebounds per game. He was a reliable shooter from the field (52 percent FG%), but also wreaked havoc defensively, totaling 75 steals in his final season.
At the state tournament in Aberdeen, White accumulated 42 points, highlighted by a 17-point, 16-rebound effort against Parker in the semifinals. His performance that night was especially impressive considering the 6-foot-2 guard/forward was 5-6 inches shorter than most of the players he was battling with inside.
“Bennett’s an outside player. On anybody else’s team he’d be a guard, playing from the outside,” coach Gordon Hooks explained. “But on our team, he’s got to be a post player because he’s the best player down to do it. It’s just desire… They’re playing hard, following the game and playing team defense, that’s the way you have to play with these big kids.”
Senior | 6-1 | Guard
Mason Archambault made a statement in early January. The 6-foot-1 senior scored a game-high 32 points, leading his team to an upset of top-ranked O’Gorman – in their barn.
“That performance kind of really showed people that he’s one of the best players in the state,” coach Chris Stoebner said. “That was a pretty special night, especially with the year they had.”
For the season, Archambault accumulated 379 points (18 ppg). He shot better than 40 percent from both the field and 3-point land, and owned an 88 percent mark at the free throw line.
He erupted for 32 points in the state quarterfinals against Pierre, then played a role in keeping the team focused following that heartbreaking double overtime loss. He scored 43 points over the next two games – which came against No. 2 Brookings and No. 4 Huron – to help the Raiders to the consolation championship.
For his career, Archambault graduates with 1,130 points, 215 rebounds, 252 assists and 146 steals.
“The big thing with Mason is he knows teams are going to be out to stop him, so he’ll get other guys going,” Stoebner said. “But when the game is on the line, he’s going to take control and try to win it for you.”
Senior | 6-6 | Forward
February was challenging for O’Gorman senior J.P. Costello.
The 6-foot-6 forward missed the final five games of the regular season with a broken hand. Upon his return at the start of district play, he came down with Influenza B, which limited his productivity against Roosevelt and Brookings.
But with a couple of weeks between the district championship game and the start of the state tournament, Costello was able to regain his strength, and in Rapid City, he hit his stride. The recipient of the Spirit of Sioux award and an All-Tournament pick, Costello tallied 69 points on 16 of 37 shooting with 22 rebounds over his final three games.
AA FINALS: Monstrous third quarter propels O’Gorman
Costello shined in the AA championship against Aberdeen Central, stuffing the statsheet with 27 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals. His presence inside that night proved to be the difference for the Knights.
“The big difference in the second half was we got the ball inside to J.P. Costello,” coach Derek Robey said. “He just had a great night, a great tournament. He’s a great kid.”
For the season, Costello finished with 219 points and an average of 7.7 rebounds per game.
Senior | 6-0 | guard
After earning first team All-State honors in his final season on the gridiron, Bradley Dean made sure he also closed out his high school hoops career in style. The 6-foot guard led the Governors in scoring with 19 points per game on 42 percent shooting.
At the state tournament in Rapid City, Dean totaled 52 points, including a game-high 25 in the semifinals against Aberdeen Central, to help Pierre finish fourth. He also knocked down nine 3-pointers, giving him 77 on the year and pushing him past Nic Hogan for the school’s single-season record (76 in 2001-02).
For his career, Dean finishes second on the all-time list, behind only Lance Severyn, the 2013 Argus Leader First Five Player of the Year.
“Bradley is one of the best shooters to ever come out of Riggs High School,” coach Terry Becker said. “In our program, he displayed an exceptional work ethic, a flare for the dramatic, and tremendous success, all while demonstrating such humility.”
Senior | 6-1 | guard
A 6-foot-1 guard, Seth Friesz’s physicality, paired with his ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, made him a difficult matchup for opposing defenses. However, it was his workman-like attitude that resulted in the strong finish to his senior year.
Simply put, he was the definition of a gym rat.
“Seth attended every open gym and was always the last to leave every practice as he stuck around to put in extra to work on his game,” coach Adam Nelson said. “All of his success was due to the amount of time he put in.”
In his final high school season, the Concordia College commit accounted for nearly 24 points per game. His willingness to attack the basket and play through contact resulted in over 100 trips to the free-throw line, where he converted on 86 percent of his opportunities.
Friesz graduates as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,556 points.
“He has been a great example of how we want to build our program,” Nelson said. “Seth has helped with summer camps and spends time before practice leading his younger teammates through drills. He will be missed in Chamberlain, but we are anxious to see who that next kid will be that has that same passion for the game because of Seth.”
Sophomore | 6-3 | Guard
The leading scorer on a Bridgewater-Emery team that at one point had four players averaging in double figures, Sawyer Schultz exemplified what allowed the Huskies to run the table and claim the Class B championship. what made the Class B champions such a successful bunch in 2016-17.
“He had a very good season from start to end,” coach Scott Schultz said of his son. “He was the kind of player that would give an assist to his teammate and feel just as good about that as he would scoring the ball.”
A testament to his father’s analysis, Sawyer averaged 5.0 assists and 14.3 points per game. A year older and a year stronger, he maintained a physical presence on the glass, averaging seven boards per game, and in the paint.
“He’s gotten a little bit stronger physically, so he’s able to be more aggressive around the basket,” Schultz said.
At the state tournament, the sophomore guard racked up 43 points, highlighted by a 16-point effort in the semifinals versus Sully Buttes.