Bronc boys excel on defense

Belle Fourche’s Kelby Olson, left, drives past an opponent during a varsity boys’ basketball game last season. Olson scored the 1,000th point of his varsity career and was one of five seniors on the roster. Pioneer file photo

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BELLE FOURCHE — Defense played a significant role in a Belle Fourche varsity boys’ basketball season that finished with a 12-9 record.

“We held opponents under 50 points — which was kind of our target — 13 (actually, 12) times this year,” Broncs’ head coach Clay Pottorff said. Belle Fourche forged a 10-2 record in those games.

“I thought we did a good job of forcing turnovers, which in a lot of games led to some good transition offense for us,” Pottorff added. He added the team also performed well on the offensive glass. 

When the season began, Pottorff said, his biggest concern centered on team identity and players fitting into new roles. 

“I knew we were pretty athletic and quick, and we were pretty versatile,” Pottorff said in describing team strengths coming into the campaign. “We had a lot of guys that could guard different types of players.”

Belle Fourche won five of its first seven games. A 59-46 win over Lemmon pushed the Broncs’ record to 5-2.

Following a three-game skid, the Broncs won their next four games. An 83-32 victory over Lead-Deadwood made Belle Fourche 9-5.

Belle Fourche conquered Sturgis 61-40 in its regular-season finale.

Belle Fourche finished 11-8 in the regular season and brought the number 3 seed into the Region 8A tournament. The Broncs defeated Hill City 79-40 in the first round but fell 64-57 to Custer. Belle Fourche’s final record was 12-9.

“We progressed pretty well throughout the season,” Pottorff said. “I think we got pretty comfortable within our roles.” 

One of the on-court highlights for Pottorff was a 56-48 win over Sturgis, which marked the Broncs’ first such victory since 2011. 

Pottorff said the 68-56 win over Bowman County was well-played on both sides, and Belle Fourche excelled down the stretch. Pottorff also cited the 62-55 win over Rapid City Christian.

Pottorff lamented what he viewed as inconsistency, with four or five losses that could have been closer or victories. He said shooting and defensive rebounding were contributing factors in those games.

Kelby Olson averaged 17.8 points, six rebounds, and 2.6 steals per game this season. He also collected the 1,000th point of his varsity career.

Colby Nowowiejski finished with 9.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. Pottorff said Olson and Nowowiejski lived up to their roles the team needed to have filled.

Aiden Giffin (9.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game) played on the inside and gave the team a lot of good minutes, Pottorff said. 

Jackson Tyndall, Keaten Benson, Tate Larson, Nowowiejski, and Olson represented the senior class.

“Our senior class was huge,” Pottorff said. He added Larson had a good year at 7.7 points per game, with Jackson moving the ball well and excelling on defense. Pottorff said Benson also enjoyed a solid year and helped provide a lot of leadership and energy.

Pottorff said Belle Fourche is building a good culture of competition. He sees players coming up who really enjoy the game, with players who will not back down from challenges.

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