Raiders, Cobblers prepare for State AA Girls Basketball Tournament

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Most years, you could easily point to one or two favorites going into the Class AA girls basketball tournament.

But this weekend, there are at least four or five teams, including the Rapid City Stevens Raiders, that have a legitimate chance at winning a state title.

The Raiders enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed behind top ranked Aberdeen Central and No. 2 Sioux Falls Lincoln.

Stevens defeated Aberdeen Central during the regular season but lost to Lincoln by one point.

Meanwhile, the Lincoln Patriots only have one in-state loss on the year and that is to Sioux Falls O'Gorman.            

Stevens will take on No. 6 Harrisburg in the opening round on Thursday afternoon at the Sioux Falls Arena.

"We have to be physical," Stevens girls basketball coach Michael Brooks said. "They have a great player in Ugofsky who is just a beast on the boards. So we have to do a great job and we have to rely on our senior posts to take care of her. Then our guards have to come in and swoop and rebound. Because one of the things that we can do is run. Our transition had been major for us. So we have to rely on our transition offense. We've got to push the tempo. We've got to make them play different than they like play."

Meanwhile, Rapid City Central is back in the Class AA girls basketball tournament for the second time in three years after upsetting Brookings in the Round of 16, 49-45 in overtime.

Now the Cobblers are gearing up to play No. 1 Aberdeen Central on Thursday.

The two teams met once during the regular season back on January 5th, with Aberdeen Central coming out on top, 57-47.

Rapid City Central head coach Kraig Blomme says the biggest challenge for his team is to try and contain Paiton Burckhard who averages 24 points and 9 rebounds per game for the Golden Eagles.

"Well I'm not sure anybody matches up with them and Burckhard very well," Central girls basketball coach Kraig Blomme said. "I think you have to try to find things that your can do successfully offensively to try and keep it close. I think defensively, like everybody, you got to try to find a way to slow her down."        

State AA Girls Basketball Tournament    

Schedule for Thursday, March 15

#9 RC Central vs #1 Aberdeen Central    12 p.m.

#7 SF Washington vs #2 SF Lincoln    12 p.m.

#5 Brandon Valley  vs #4 SF O'Gorman  4 pm

#6 Harrisburg vs #3 RC Stevens   4 p.m.

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