Here’s a look at the teams for tonight’s Class A state boys basketball championship game between No. 5 Tea and No. 3 Madison in Rapid City, 9 p.m. CT.
TEA AREA (22-3)
Title game appearances: First
State titles: None
Road to the championship: Spearfish, W 60-53; Platte-Geddes, W 65-33
Key players (tournament stats)
Chase Deckert: 7 pts, 5 reb, 8 ast, 5 stl
Riley Knutson: 17 pts, 4 reb, 9 ast, 12 stl, 4 blk
Mitchell Nissen: 13 pts, 11 reb, 4 stl
Connor Shaull: 43 pts, 48% FG, 12 reb, 5 stl
Adam Waterman: 9 pts
Gunnar Ensz: 13 pts, 7 stl
Tourney offense: 62.5 ppg, 43% FG
Tourney defense: 43 ppg, 36% FG
Titans win if…
1) Connor Shaull (21.5 ppg) continues to score at will. The senior keyed a pair of crucial runs during the Titans’ win over Spearfish as well as a 16-0 stretch that blew the game open against Platte-Geddes.
2) They can weather Madison’s depth. The Bulldogs can play eight or nine deep with little drop-off. That’s especially important if Tea finds itself in foul trouble. The Titans can’t afford to have Shaull, Knutson or Nissen on the bench for long stretches.
3) They can put together a good start. With this being Tea’s first championship game, nerves can be expected early. But the Titans, who have forced 49 turnovers over two games, have been at their best so far when they can pull ahead and play loose on defense.
Title game appearances: 1920, 1921, 1924, 1929, 1944 (B), 1945 (B), 2008, 2009, 2010
State titles: 1921, 1945 (B), 2009, 2010
Road to the championship: Pine Ridge, W 70-34; Mobridge-Pollock, W 66-30
Jesse Brown: 15 pts, 44%FG, 22 reb, 4 stl
Jacob Giles: 17 pts, 47% FG, 6 reb
Mason Sullivan: 4 pts, 4 reb, 3 stl
Trae VandeBerg: 23 pts, 47% FG, 6 reb
Tyler Wiebe: 26 pts, 12-13 FT, 16 reb, 6 ast
Rush Milne: 15 pts, 47% FG, 14 reb
Braxton Olson: 13 pts, 63% FG, 9 reb
Tourney offense: 68 ppg, 47% FG
Tourney defense: 32 ppg, 28% FG
Bulldogs win if…
1) They can bend, not break. Madison likely isn’t going to keep up its tourney averages (68 ppg, 32 ppg allowed) because Tea is much a better opponent than Pine Ridge and Mobridge-Pollock. The Bulldogs haven’t had to play a full four quarters this weekend, therefore avoiding a second-half lull will be important.
2) Any combination of their top contributors gets going. VandeBerg and Wiebe have paced Madison so far, but if Brown or Milne can create a third go-to option tonight then Tea could be in trouble.
3) They either match or stop the Titans’ runs before they get out of hand. Tea has been the most tested team in the tournament so far, thus forced to put together solid stretches of basketball that have turned the game over. A 4-5 minute stretch of unanswered dominant play could be all the Titans need.
Prediction: Madison has looked unstoppable this weekend, but part of that has to do with inferior competition. Tea’s defense has been impressive, but the Titans can’t afford to come out sluggish on offense. I don’t see a lot of lead changes tonight, so whoever can create a cushion will be in control. Bulldogs 58, Titans 51
Spirit of Su watch (through two tourney games):
Skyler Flatten, Clark/Willow Lake: 23.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.5 spg, 1.5 bpg
Connor Shaull, Tea: 21.5 ppg, 6 rpg, 2.5 spg
Dominic King, Aberdeen Roncalli: 16 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.5 spg, 2 bpg
Coby Johnson, Platte-Geddes: 16 ppg, 12 rpg, 3 apg
Tyler Wiebe, Madison: 13 ppg, 8 rpg, 3 apg