VIBORG — Viborg-Hurley is underrated no more.

No, actually the complete opposite.

The Turner County school is now home to South Dakota’s No. 1 boys’ basketball team in Class B.

And it hasn’t happened by accident, according to long-time head coach Galen Schoenefeld.

“As with most successful teams, I feel we have good talent and some kids that have put in a lot of time over the years,” he said Monday, before the weekly media poll was announced.

Unranked to start the season, Viborg-Hurley jumped from third a week ago to first this week — the Cougars took a 16-1 record into Monday night’s home game with Elk Point-Jefferson.

Balance has enabled that ascent, Schoenefeld said.

The Cougars average 66.1 points per game and still have three players in double figures: Senior Brodee Sherman (14.9 ppg), sophomore Chase Mason (12.5 ppg) and sophomore Gradee Sherman (11.5 ppg).

It goes beyond that as well, as five different players have led Viborg-Hurley in scoring in at least one game and seven players have led the team in rebounds.

“Defense and rebounding have been keys to our success this season,” Schoenefeld said.

The stats back that up, too.

Viborg-Hurley’s defense has held opponents to 40.1 points per game and it also holds a 16-rebound edge per game.

Sophomore Grant Mikkelsen leads the team with 7.1 rebounds per game, while Gradee Sherman (5.9), senior Kaden Gerdes (5.4), Mason (5.0) and sophomore Eli Boomgarden (4.6) also provide defensive depth.

The Cougars may not have a big-time presence underneath the basket, but they more than make up for it, according to Schoenefeld.

“We have a team of players with very similar size, which allows us to adapt to different things teams try to do against us,” he said.

Sure, the Cougars may not have much size in the post, but they’ve got length at the guard positions.

And that’s made a difference, Schoenefeld said.

The Cougars are now hoping those differences and that depth results in a step further than a year ago.

Last season, Viborg-Hurley finished 16-6 and lost in the Region 5B Tournament one step before the new ‘SoDak 16’

Now this season, the direction of those players back from a year ago have helped pave the way in Viborg-Hurley’s attempt to return to the state tournament for the first time since 2013.

“We have gotten good leadership, not just from our three seniors, but from others on the team as well,” Schoenefeld said.

“It’s a good group of kids that get along with each other and can move past disagreements when they do come up.”

Viborg-Hurley has two regular season games remaining before the Region 5B Tournament: Tonight (Tuesday) at home against Menno and Saturday against Bridgewater-Emery at home.

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