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Area boys basketball SoDak 16 previews: Hanson, Hamlin to tangle for Class A state spot

Mar. 4—No. 15-seed Hanson (14-8) stands in the way of red-hot No. 2 Hamlin (19-3), as the two sides meet in Madison for a place in the Class A state tournament.

Hanson is playing in the Class A SoDak 16 for a third consecutive season and for the second straight season in Madison. Last year, the Beavers had the No. 14 seed and fell 73-31 to eventual state finalist Sioux Falls Christian. In 2022, seventh-seeded Sioux Valley topped No. 10 Hanson 64-34 at the Pentagon in Sioux Falls.

The Beavers, who average 58.2 points per game, are led in the scoring column by Jayce Slaba, who averages 19.7 points per game on 46% shooting from the field and 36% 3-point shooting. The 6-foot senior guard Slaba also has 5.3 rebounds and four assists per contest, as well. Six-foot-four junior A.J. Wilber averages 10.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game for the Beavers, while his twin brother Ben Wilber posts 8.3 points per game. Junior guard Sutton Dewald has 7.5 points per game, while 6-foot-6 senior center Isayah Price accounts for nearly seven points per contest.

Hamlin is looking for its second consecutive Class A state berth after finishing third last season. Meanwhile, the Beavers are in search of their first tournament appearance since being crowned Class B champions in 2015

The game was originally scheduled to be played in Arlington before being moved to Madison High School. The Chargers are 40-7 since the start of the 2022-23 season, including 19-3 this season, which included a victory over defending state champion Dakota Valley at the Hanson Classic in January, ending the Panthers' state-record 62-game win streak.

Looking for a third-straight postseason victory over a higher-seeded foe, No. 16 Sanborn Central/Woonsocket (11-11) aims to channel its postseason magic once again, this time against No. 1 Sioux Falls Christian (22-0) in Hartford.

In reaching the SoDak 16, the Blackhawks were the only Class A program to win a pair of true road games in its region tournament, first knocking off Platte-Geddes and then top-seeded Parkston in the Region 5A semifinals.

Senior Jeff Boschee, who averages 17.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game for the year, poured in 55 points across the two region postseason contests, including 33 against Parkston, while Payton Uecker (6.9 points per game) and Bryce Larson (6.7 ppg) also offered double-digit scoring efforts to help secure the Blackhawks' SoDak 16 spot. Cody Slykhuis (0.4 points per game) and Trey Moody (6.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game) are also top contributors for the Blackhawks.

Tuesday will be SCW's third appearance in the SoDak 16 but the first in Class A, as the co-op looks for its first state tournament trip.

Standing in the Blackhawks' way is an unbeaten Sioux Falls Christian program that is looking for a ninth-straight bid to the Class A tournament, a run that includes two state championships, a runner-up and two third-place finishes. Sioux Falls Christian used double-digit wins over Garretson and West Central in the Region 3A tournament to qualify for the SoDak 16.

The Chargers' lineup is headlined by 6-foot-10 forward Griffen Goodbary, whose exceptional season garnered offers from South Dakota State and the University of South Dakota last month.

Riding a 20-game win streak into the SoDak 16, No. 4 Wessington Springs (21-1) faces 13-seed Waverly-South Shore (16-6) in Huron for a place among Class B's final eight.

En route to a top-four seed, the Spartans paired one of Class B's best scoring offenses with its No. 2-ranked scoring defense to produce the top point differential in the class. Springs has defeated opponents by an average of 21.3 points per game this season, one of two programs (Castlewood) with a plus-20 scoring margin for the season.

Sophomore Parker Graff paces the Spartans' attack with 17.4 points per game, and junior Ryder Michalek, who recently went over 1,000 points for his career, adds 14.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per outing. Another sophomore, 6-foot-4 center Colby Flowers chips in 9.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, with seniors Brock Krueger (8.5 points and 6.3 rebounds) and Blake Larson (7.0 points and 4.5 assists) also as top contributors.

Springs defeated Avon and Corsica-Stickney to book its spot out of Region 5B, as the Spartans are making a third SoDak 16 appearance in four seasons but for the first time as a top-eight seed. The lone team to trip up the Spartans this season is the No. 5 seed in the Class B field, Howard.

With a victory, Wessington Springs would lock up the program's third state tournament bid and the first since 1994 in Class A.

The Coyotes have won seven straight games against in-state opponents leading into Tuesday, securing a place out of Region 1B by defeating Britton-Hecla and region No. 2 seed Aberdeen Christian.

A pair of programs in pursuit of a long-awaited return to the state tournament collide in Chamberlain, as No. 5 Howard (19-3) meets No. 12 Philip (15-7) for a spot in the Class B field.

Howard was on the lower-seeded side of the No. 5 versus No. 12 matchup last season in its SoDak 16 debut and hasn't been to the state tournament since finishing as the Class A runner-up in 1995. Philip, which is making its SoDak 16 debut this season, hasn't made a tournament appearance since 1972.

The Tigers are led by the powerful frontcourt duo of 6-foot-4 junior Luke Koepsell (16.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals per game) and 6-foot-8 senior Kolt Koepsell (14.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.7 blocks per game). Alongside is a trio of productive seniors in Logan Mentele (7.5 points per game and 46 made 3-pointers), Colby Claussen (7.2 points and 3.3 assists per game) and Taiden Hoyer (6.5 points per game).

Howard enters the SoDak 16 on a 12-game win streak, defeating Mitchell Christian and Chester by a combined 55 points in the Region 3B tournament. Also featured in the streak are victories over SoDak 16 programs No. 8 Dell Rapids St. Mary and No. 10 Viborg-Hurley.

Though the Scotties entered the postseason with back-to-back losses, they rebounded by defeating New Underwood and then knocking off region 2-seed Wall to earn a representative spot out of Region 7B.