Skyler Flatten (10) and his Clark-Willow Lake teammates will be in Rapid City battling for the Class A title. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED
RAPID CITY — After going undefeated through the regular season for the first time in the program’s history, the Clark-Willow Lake boys’ basketball team will carry the No. 1 seed into the Class A State Tournament, which begins today at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City.
The Cyclones, who are 21-0, have handled the pressure of being the front-runner quite well throughout the season, according to coach Jerome Nesheim.
“I have not seen them play tight all season,” Nesheim said. “We have really played to win and not played trying not to lose. They just show up every game, play hard and what happens, happens.
“Going in with the No. 1 seed just tells you what time you play,” he said. “When you get to the state tournament, all records are thrown out and everyone starts 0-0.”
Clark-Willow Lake will open the tournament against No. 8-seeded Platte-Geddes, which is 16-7, at noon, MDT, today.
The other pairings for today’s opening round include fourth-seeded Spearfish (18-5) vs. No. 5 Spearfish (18-5) at 1:45 p.m., MDT; second-seeded Aberdeen Roncalli (16-4) vs. No. 7 Mobridge-Pollock (18-5) at 6 p.m., MDT; and third-seeded Madison (21-2) vs. No. 6 Pine Ridge (14-8) at 7:45 p.m.
Nesheim believes that the regular season has prepared his squad for what it will face during its second straight state tournament appearance.
“We have played in quite a few close games and we were lucky enough to make plays on both ends of the court and at times when we needed big plays,” he said. “All five of our starters have led us in scoring at one point in time this season. Our schedule was one of the harder ones as well, not only playing in the Northeast Conference and Lake Central Conference, but also picking up games against St. Thomas More and Sioux Falls Washington.”
Although the Cyclones will be aiming to win the first boys’ basketball state championship in the history of both the Clark and Willow Lake schools, they will be approaching the state tournament with the same attitude they have carried throughout the season.
“Our next game is our biggest threat,” Nesheim said. “We have to take care of the team directly in front of us, no game or team is more important than the next one.
“They (the players) understand that they can only control a few things in the game - their effort, their attitude and their focus,” he said. “You can’t control winning or losing, so there is no reason to worry about it.”
The roster for the Cyclones consists of six seniors, including Skyler Flatten, who will be taking his talents to South Dakota State University to play for the Jackrabbits in the fall.
The other seniors are Rhett Florey, Andrew Wegner, Keagan Swanhorst, Lane Hovde and Torrey Kolden. They are joined by juniors Mitch Prouty and Ty Wicks, along with sophomores Cody Nelson Tyson Jenkins and Rawson Yost.
“This is one of my most determined teams I have coached in a few years,” Nesheim said. “The balance of this team has been our biggest asset. We really don’t depend on one player.
“Skyler Flatten is our leader and is a great player, but our other players have really rallied around him,” he said. “In games that he has struggled, others have carried the load. We have just been more consistent this season than we have been in the past.”
Clark-Willow Lake and Aberdeen Roncalli are the only teams in this year’s tournament, which were part of the state tournament in 2012. Aberdeen Roncalli finished fourth a year ago, while the Cyclones were sixth.For the complete article see the 03-14-2013 issue.
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