Seniors guide Spearfish boys to success

Spearfish’s Jake Powell, right, releases a pass during a varsity boys’ basketball game last season. Powell was one of six seniors on the roster. Pioneer file photo

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SPEARFISH — The most experienced members of the Spearfish varsity boys’ basketball team guided the Spartans to a 9-12 record last season. 

That marked a six-win improvement from the 2018-19 campaign.

“It was the exceptional leadership of our seniors, as they have led us on the floor and on the practice court,” Spartans’ head coach Erik Skoglund said in describing what stood out for him this season. 

Skoglund said they demonstrated the “Spartan Way” for younger team members.

Skoglund said that going into the season, the upperclassmen knew things had to be done as a team. 

“They knew we needed balanced scoring, and they knew we had to turn defense into offense when possible,” he added.

That balance needed to be a team strength, according to Skoglund. He credited the players and said they became a better passing team.

Spearfish dropped its first three games before winning four of five. A 67-57 win over Belle Fourche improved the Spartans’ record to 4-4.

A loss to Mitchell dropped Spearfish’s mark to 6-9. Victories over Custer, Douglas, and Hot Springs squared that record at 9-9.

The Spartans went 9-11 in the regular season and brought the number 13 seed into the Class AA SoDak 16 event. 

Spearfish dropped a 69-47 decision to fourth-seeded Sioux Falls Washington to end its 2019-20 season with a record of  9-12.

“We were a team that finally won the close ball games,” Skoglund said in describing the Spartans’ evolving into a better team. 

Skoglund added the squad thrived in the fourth quarter, kept their composure, and overcame late deficits.

On-court season highlights for Skoglund included winning a pair of one-possession games against Douglas (56-55 and 68-67). 

Spearfish also outscored Pierre 72-68, defeated Belle Fourche 67-57, split two games against Sturgis, and outlasted Custer 57-51 in overtime.

“So many guys improved from week one,” Skoglund said. “So many guys put in an outstanding summer of work.” 

Skoglund went on to say that practice intensity made many players better at both ends of the floor, which improved the team. 

Aiden Woods, Ryan Peldo, Jake Powell, Cade Lyon, John Nickles, and Logan Ammerman represented the senior class.

“We hope the seniors can fully appreciate what they did,” Skoglund said. “They were also the player-coaches on the floor.” 

Spearfish’s 9-12 season came only one season after a 3-17 record. 

Skoglund agreed hard work, focus, and determination marked the biggest differences from last season to this one. 

He said many players improved individually, and that resulted in a better team.

“This year, we were in nearly every single game from start to finish,” Skoglund said. He added that was not the case in 2018-19, and this year’s team never had a down practice.

Three current juniors are on the roster, accompanied by many sophomores and ninth-graders. Skoglund said many players will get a lot of playing time.

“As you are able to get time on the floor, along with our intense practices, we’re only going to get better,” Skoglund said.

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