Digger boys’ basketball team endured up-and-down season

Lead-Deadwood’s Jordy Stulken jumps between two opponents on his way to the basket. Stulken was one of four seniors on the roster. Pioneer file photo

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LEAD — Lead-Deadwood’s varsity boys’ basketball team experienced many ups and downs during its recent 6-15 season.

“I think consistency was the biggest thing throughout the season,” Golddiggers’ head coach Travis Rogers said. He added shooting and defensive play were two of the biggest areas.

Rogers said Lead-Deadwood shot really well in some games but not in others. He added the team played defense when it was in games but, in other contests, did not play as hard as it could.

“I knew that we were long and athletic,” Rogers said in outlining team strengths going into the season. “I still think there’s a lot more that we can do with defense.”

Going into the season, Rogers said, he was concerned that the team did not have enough scorers. That held true, as Jordy Stulken (17 points per game) was the only player to average double figures. No one else averaged more than seven points per game.

How did the squad evolve as the season progressed? “I think we learned to play like a team better,” Rogers said. 

Early victories over Newell and Bennett County highlighted the Golddiggers’ 2-4 start. Wins over Hill City and Hot Springs made Lead-Deadwood’s record 4-9. 

A 64-60 overtime win over Philip highlighted a two-game winning streak and boosted the Golddiggers’ mark to 6-12.

Lead-Deadwood finished 6-14 in the regular season and brought the number 5 seed into the Region 8A tournament. The Golddiggers fell 66-23 to Rapid City Christian to end its season.

Rogers said the Philip game marked a big win. He added TK Rainey surpassed the 20-point mark during an early-season game.

TK Rainey improved considerably in the last year, according to Rogers. “If he can do that between this year and next year, he’s going to be a pretty tough player,” Rogers said.

Kayd Varland, Payton Grodzin, Kevin Primo, and Stulken represented the senior class.

Rogers said Stulken led the team, and Primo was a hard-working role player who was great to have in the program. The coach added that Varland played good minutes and tough defense, and Grodzin did well as a starter and team captain.

Lead-Deadwood needs to improve on team fundamentals like defensive rotation, setting better screens on offense, and finishing shots, Rogers said when addressing the future. 

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