The most recognized basketball player in Yankton Bucks history added two more honors to the list today (Wednesday).
Yankton senior Matthew Mors was named the Class AA Player of the Year and a first-team All-State selection by the South Dakota Basketball Coaches Association.
For Mors, it marked the fourth straight season earning first-team honors, and the fifth straight season earning SDBCA honors. Mors is the only Class AA boys’ player to accomplish both of those feats, and joins Sturgis’ Megan Mahoney (1996-2000) as the only other Class AA player to win four first-team selections and five all-state picks overall.
Mors, who helped lead the Bucks to four straight winning seasons and four straight state tournament appearances, was named the Class AA ‘Spirit of Su’ winner during the 2021 state tournament.
“Matthew’s impact on our program can be measured by the championships, wins, records, and stats that he has produced on the court and they are very impressive. Matthew is a champion,” Yankton head coach Chris Haynes said. “What cannot be measured is Matthew’s overall impact on our program which will last far beyond his six years on the court. His work ethic, leadership and overall character will carry on for years to come.”
Mors, who will graduate as the state’s fourth leading scorer all-time with 2,707 points, averaged 24.2 points per game this season. He came up five points shy of his school record for points in a season, but set personal bests for rebounds (195), steals (60) and blocked shots (159).
Over the past four years, Yankton has posted one of the strongest stretches in program history, going 72-21 with three top-four finishes and a state tournament cancelled due to COVID-19. During that stretch, only one South Dakota team had a winning record against the Bucks, O’Gorman at 2-3.
But Mors’ impact on the Bucks’ program extends beyond the court, Haynes said.
“Maybe the most impactful is that every one of those young boys’ parents can be proud that their son wants to be Matthew Mors, not just because he is a great basketball player but because he is a great person too,” he said, referring to area youth pretending to be Mors as they play basketball. “Matthew has represented his community, school, team, family and self in a manner that future Bucks should strive to follow.”
Mors, a Wisconsin recruit, is joined on the 2021 first team by fellow 2020 first team pick Tyler Feldkamp, who led Sioux Falls Roosevelt to the Class AA title. Micah Swallow of Rapid City Central, Jackson Hilton of Brandon Valley and Caden Hinker of Mitchell all moved up to the first team after earning second team honors in 2020. Eli Williams of Sioux Falls Washington rounds out the Class AA first team.
Three area athletes, including two from Dakota Valley, earned first-team honors in Class A.
Dakota Valley’s Paul and Isaac Bruns, and Vermillion’s Jakob Dobney each earned a spot in the six-person first team list. Paul Bruns, the North Dakota recruit, earned his third straight first team selection and was named the Class A Player of the Year.
Paul Bruns, a 6-4 guard, averaged 27.9 points, 12.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. He also had 53 steals for the Panthers.
“Paul has been such an incredible player and leader in our program,” said Dakota Valley head coach Jason Kleis. “He has such a versatile game, is such a competitor and winner, and we had a fantastic senior year.”
Isaac Bruns, one of two sophomores on the first team, averaged 22.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
“Isaac emerged as a star this year, and grew so many areas with his rebounding, efficiency, and athleticism,” Kleis said. “He is great finishing on the break, is a great shooter off dribble and from three, and with his work ethic we think the sky is the limit for him the next couple of years.”
Dobney, a senior guard for Vermillion, averaged 20.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, helping the Tanagers to their first state tournament berth since 1989. Dobney also had 69 steals for Vermillion, which took an unbeaten record into the state tournament before falling on a buzzer-beating three-pointer in the opening round.
“Jakob made a big jump from his junior to senior seasons,” said Vermillion head coach Jay Drake. “He is a kid that has put a lot of time in the gym the past 4 years and has steadily improved as a basketball player.”
For his career, Dobney finished with 1,061 points. He made 69 three-pointers in his career, including 34 this season.
“Jakob was very efficient on the offensive end of the floor this year and his best games throughout the year were against the better teams we faced on our schedule,” Drake said. “He also had a knack for being around or finding the ball on the defensive end of the floor as he is our single season (76) and career (199) record holder in steals.”
Dobney has been selected to the Lakota All-Star Game, April 24 in Rapid City.
Joining those three on the first team are Winner senior Brady Fritz, Sioux Valley sophomore Oliver Vincent and Dell Rapids senior Colin Rentz.
Vermillion senior Dillon Gestring, the Class A ‘Spirit of Su’ winner, earned third-team all-state honors in Class A. He averaged 13.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest.
Gradee Sherman, whose name is painted across the Viborg-Hurley record books, will end his high school basketball career with one more honor: a first-team All-State recognition.
Sherman, a 6-5 forward who averaged 21.9 points and 12.4 rebounds on the season, earned Class B honors to cap his senior season. He moved up from third team a season ago.
“If he was not the best rebounder I have ever coached, he certainly was the best offensive rebounder,” said Viborg-Hurley head coach Galen Schoenefeld. “He had the drive to go get it and the knack for tracking them. There were nights where he scored the majority of his points off offensive rebounds rather than through being fed the ball in the post due to the attention opposing defenses paid to him.”
Besides setting single-season records for scoring (523) and rebounding (308) in his career, he also set single-game records for made field goals (16) and rebounds (23), each set without playing in the fourth quarter due to the margin of the game.
“He was a three-year starter, and each year he started the team qualified for the state tournament,” Schoenefeld said. “His scoring and rebounding increased every year. He was a double-digit scorer each year that he was a starter.”
Sherman finished his career ranking second in both scoring (1,174) and rebounding (649) among players who competed for Viborg-Hurley (not counting when those were separate schools). His blocked shot (63) and shooting percentage (54.2%) marks rank third and fourth in Cougar history.
“He is a great example to the younger kids about what effort on the court, in the weight-room and in the classroom can do for you,” Schoenefeld said.
Dell Rapids St. Mary senior Connor Libis, who finished his career with 2,731 points to rank third in South Dakota boys’ basketball history, earned his third straight first-team selection. He is joined on the first team by repeat selection Kalen Garry, a junior from DeSmet who earned Class B Player of the Year honors. Canistota senior Tyce Ortman, Howard senior Sam Aslesen and White River sophomore Joe Sayler also earned first-team honors.
Platte-Geddes had two players honored, one each on second and third teams. Senior forward Kelby VanDerWerff earned second team honors, averaging 16.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Junior post Caden Foxley earned third team honors, averaging 16.3 points and 11 rebounds per game.
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