Huron senior Justin Decker goes up for a shot against a spearfish opponent during the 2013-2014 season. Decker was named first team Class AA All-State on Wednesday. In the next photo, Huron senior Caleb Carr shoots a jumper over a defender during the 2013-2014 season. Carr was named Wednesday to the Class AA All-State second team. PHOTOS BY MIKE CARROLL/PLAINSMAN
SIOUX FALLS — Colton Kooima saved one of his best performances of the season for the biggest stage, leading Roosevelt’s 3-point exhibition by hitting 5 of 9 treys in the Class AA state boys championship game.
The senior’s prep finale was a sample of what he meant to the state champion Rough Riders this season and helped earn him a spot on the all-state first team selected by the South Dakota High School Basketball Coaches Association and the South Dakota Sportswriters Association.
Lincoln’s Addison Park, Washington’s Brett Stanley, Rapid City Stevens’ Steven Schaefer and Huron’s Justin Decker also made the cut after leading their teams to the state tourney, while Brookings’ Tyler Nagy rounded out the first team selections.
Kooima, a 6-3 guard, averaged 16.1 points per game and shot 44 percent from 3-point range, however the Northwestern recruit often lifted the Riders without the ball in his hands.
“Going into the season, everyone knew that Colton could shoot the basketball and that was his M.O. last year and coming into this year,” said Roosevelt coach Lee Taylor. “But what he did to develop his game over the course of the season was getting his teammates open and he became one of our best screeners. He kind of took a backseat to scoring in order for the team to be more successful.”
The Rough Riders’ definitive state tournament performance put an end to a late-season run for Park and the Patriots, who turned around a slow start en route to knocking off top-seed Huron in the first round at state and finally resembled the team that was voted the preseason favorite.
The 6-8 Park keyed the salvaged season with 14.5 points on 56 percent shooting along with pulling down eight rebounds per game. Although the junior forward had an eye for the 3-point line (hitting 26 of 71 attempts), his focus inside improved throughout the season and set the tone for the Pats winning nine of their final 12 games.
“Obviously our whole goal this year was to get the ball inside and Addison was one of those guys we wanted to get as many touches as we could because he can finish,” said Lincoln coach Jeff Halseth. “As the season went on, he became more physical in there and became more comfortable, and he wanted the ball every time we came down the court.”
Stanley and the Warriors witnessed the Patriots’ hot streak first-hand, falling to the eastside rival in the district tourney and state semifinals, but not before the 6-3 senior forward performed a turnaround of his own.
Stanley’s 17.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game led the way for a Washington squad that finished 4-18 a year ago and came within mere free throws in regulation to playing for a state title. While his offensive skill set dazzled, his defense fueled the Warriors, who finished third.
“He was really good for us on the offensive end, and we always expected that would happen,” said Washington coach Craig Nelson, “but it was the defense that sparked us and really made our team better when we were able to put him on the other team’s best player.”
Of other team’s best players, Schaefer was a nightmare for opposing defenses. The Argus Leader Player of the Year was the top guard in the state this season, averaging a Class AA-best 24 points per game and leading the Raiders to a fourth place finish.
An Augustana recruit, the 6-3 Schaefer picked apart defenses with his ability to shoot from deep, pull up off the dribble or drive the lane — all while getting everyone’s best effort.
“He got everybody’s best defender and he got held and grabbed and everyone tried to make his life as miserable as possible. But his attitude and the way he played the game never changed,” said Taylor. “He never let his poor shooting performances or getting roughed up affect playing great defense or rebounding the basketball or picking a teammate up off the floor. We all know he can score, but he was so consistent being a great teammate.”
While Schaefer was the best backcourt player in Class AA, Decker controlled the paint so much so that the Tigers were the top-ranked team for the majority of the season. The South Dakota Gatorade Player of the Year posted 15.4 points on 62 percent shooting and grabbed 8.5 rebounds per game on the way to leading Huron to the consolation championship.
“He’s one of those guys that in the scouting report you know you’re going to have to double team him every time he touches it down low,” said Nelson of the USD recruit.
Nagy was the only first-teamer to not showcase his talents at state – through no fault of his own – as the Bobcats were a young squad with the 5-10 guard representing one of just two seniors.
The Wayne State recruit shouldered as much as he could for Brookings, averaging 21.4 points, 3.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds, but his steadiness demonstrated itself in other areas that didn’t show up in the box score.
“He had to do a lot for that team this year,” said Taylor. “They needed him to score and he had some big games, but he even though some of his teammates didn’t succeed in knocking down shots, he never stopped trusting them.”
Roosevelt’s Chris Phillips earned second team honors along with Huron’s Caleb Carr, Yankton’s J.J. Henja, O’Gorman’s Braxton Elliott, Brandon Valley’s Nic Peterson and Pierre’s Brevin Kaiser.
For the complete article see the 04-10-2014 issue.
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