More exposure needed for athletes in smaller communities and West River

By Rich Winter

Boy, looking over the Class A, All-State teams this morning…quick scan, no Marveen Ross…what? I guess in the long run, these are individual awards but in the same sense, Marveen Ross has had herself one hell of a career at Crow Creek…(3rd-team all-state, Marveen Ross, JR, Crow Creek: 19.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.0 apg, 47% FG) as a junior.

Ross won a Lakota Nation title as a junior, reached the championship her senior season. Went over 1500 career points and delighted fans across Region 6A and west river this season. She is a heck of a player, probably, Division 11 type worthy, but not everyone has seen the ICEBOX go to work. Those that have, that’s a first-team all state player right there. (Remember when the Lady Chieftains lost to West Central by three a few weeks back…(West Central, the team that got 2nd in state))

Now, I’ve always been one to berate these awards…Just feels like over the years there have been so many great players out west, and in Native American communities, that get passed over for the awards.

These awards are voted on by the South Dakota Basketball Coaches Association. If you really think about it, 85 percent of these coaches are probably from east river….And so, if they don’t see these kids play in person, or on a webcast, they aren’t going to have the same familiarity as they do with players closer to their geographic proximity.

Unless they make the state tournament….

Winner put two on the Class B 2nd-team: Bella Swedlund and Morgan Hammerbeck

Todd County had Raven Cournoyer on the first team and Kelsie Herman on the 2nd-team.

Exposure equates to all kids getting noticed.

Man, I thought Duka Thompson had a great season for Pine Ridge.


Another player I feel deserved some all-state attention was Pine Ridge senior Duka Thompson….Every time Thompson took the floor for Laura Big Crow’s Lady Thorpes, Thompson competed. She does a little bit of everything…Thompson is a decorated volleyball player and a big-time performer on the court.

Sacred Hoops girls programs loading up out West

We at Sacred Hoops Basketball are very excited to get the summer season of basketball going.

At far left, Amanda Carlow’s All Native 17-U girls team really took South Dakota basketball by storm this season. So many of the players picture above are heading to college (More on that later)

At far right, is our newest West River coach, Megan Mahoney who will be coaching the west river 17-u girls teams this summer…Mahoney, played in the WNBA, had a long career in Europe and a former player who will be inducted into the South Dakota High School Basketball HALL-OF-FAME this summer…(Voted in a long time ago, this is the first spring she hasn’t been playing professionally in like 16 years.

Wanted to mention Raven Cournoyer’s stats:

Junior year: 11.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg

Senior year: G; 23.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 6.1 apg, 4.2 spg, 32 made three-pointers

Lakota Nation MVP

Spirit of Su Winner

First-Team All-State

Class A girls basketball player of the year for South Dakota…It is really rewarding to see an athlete like Cournoyer put in the work, see the results, be seen on a state-wide stage who now has a bunch of colleges interested in her wares.

This summer is going to be an amazing one for our girls programs out west. Adding Mahoney to the fold really enhances West River girls from South Dakota’s opportunity to be taught by the best and play against the best AAU competition in the country…

Doors are opening and many more Raven Cournoyer’s are out there…just waiting to get seen!