The Rapid City Central girls basketball team lost three starters from last season, including longtime mainstay Juneau Jones in the middle, setting head coach Kraig Blomme's squad up for a steep learning curve early this season.
The Cobblers return two starters in guard Jordon Heckert and forward Adison Young and will also lean on senior Emma Avery to help provide leadership and production as the younger players get comfortable with increased roles at the varsity level. Blomme says the crosstown rival Stevens Raiders with all-state University of South Dakota commit Kyah Watson should be the team to beat within the region.
Blomme said, "It's going to be a different kind of season for us. We've got a lot of new kids who are coming up to the varsity so it's going to be a little process until we can figure out what we can do well. They've been doing a great job in practice so far of working hard, setting the tone, our other senior Emma Avery has been doing a good job of really being aggressive and getting the other girls to practice hard. Definitely Stevens is the top team I would say, Sturgis has a lot of good talent and last year Spearfish played us tough as well so for us nothing is going to be easy this year. It's all going to be a challenge."
Avery said, "It's a pretty big adjustment. I remember me getting pulled up as a younger kid, the pace is just a lot faster, more physical, so they're definitely having to get used to that, especially with our posts getting in there and playing those bigger more physical post players in there."
Central opens the season Thursday in Gillette for the first of three games at the Camel Classic. Their first home game won't be until December 30th against Douglas.
And that leads us into preseason South Dakota Media basketball polls ... starting with the Class AA girls ... Sioux Falls Lincoln and USD commit-Morgan Hansen top the first rankings of the season with 11 first-place votes, followed by Creighton-commit Emma Ronsiek-led O'Gorman, Stevens, Washington and defending state champ Brandon Valley ... Harrisburg and Yankton are receiving votes.
Defending Class A champ Winner is tied with Lennox atop the girls A ranks despite picking up 11 first-place votes to six for the Orioles, followed by St. Thomas More third, SF Christian and West Central ...
Corsica-Stickney leads Class B with 15 first-place votes, followed by Castlewood, De Smet, White River and Ethan. Faith received one vote.
On the boys' side, O'Gorman is your AA preseason No. 1, followed by Yankton, defending champ Brandon Valley, Sioux Falls Roosevelt and Huron. Rapid City Central picked up one vote this week.
The St. Thomas More boys took 15 of 18 first-place votes to sit at No. 1 in Class A, followed by Sioux Falls Christian with the other three ... Dell Rapids, Lennox and Sioux Valley round out the top five with Tea Area, Crow Creek, Red Cloud and Dakota Valley receiving votes.
And DeSmet is No. 1 in Class B with Viborg-Hurley, White River, Sully Buttes and Dell Rapids St. Mary coming in second through fifth, respectively.
1. O’Gorman (15) 84
2. Yankton (3) 70
3. Brandon Valley 52
4. Roosevelt 32
5. Huron 26
Receiving votes: Lincoln 4, Rapid City Central 1, Aberdeen Central 1
1. St. Thomas More (15) 87
2. SF Christian (3) 60
3. Dell Rapids 54
4. Lennox 27
5. Sioux Valley 20
Receiving votes: Tea Area 13, Crow Creek 7, Red Cloud 1, Dakota Valley 1.
1. De Smet (13) 83
2. Viborg-Hurley (4) 68
3. White River 43
4. Sully Buttes (1) 34
5. Dell Rapids St. Mary 22
Receiving votes: Aberdeen Christian 9, Canistota 7, Hanson 3, Northwestern 1.
1. Lincoln (11) 83
2. O’Gorman (6) 75
3. Stevens 41
4. Washington 31
5. Brandon Valley (1) 28
Receiving votes: Harrisburg 10, Yankton 2.
T-1. Winner (11) 78
T-1. Lennox (6) 78
3. St. Thomas More (1) 54
4. SF Christian 32
5. West Central 13
Receiving votes: McCook Central/Montrose 10, Miller 3, Hamlin 1, Mount Vernon/Plankinton 1.
1. Corsica-Stickney (15) 84
2. Castlewood (1) 55
3. De Smet (1) 52
4. White River (1) 44
5. Ethan 27
Receiving votes: Bridgewater-Emery 7, Faith 1.