Photo by Kel Lorenz
Members of the 2022-23 Hot Springs Bison Boys Basketball Team include, from left, Head Coach Aaron Noteboom, Assistant Coach Lindall Janis, Tyler Remington, Aidyn Janis, Braden Peterson, Colin Iverson, Modes Kerr, Blake Hanes, Camron Maciejewski, Landon Iverson, Kayden Hansen, Brayden Vandenberg, Preston Iverson, Teagan Erskin, Josh Kleinsasser, Will Gilbertson, Matt Close, Assistant Coach Max Jirsa, Managers Madysen Mundorf and Lynnea Cuny.
By Brett Nachtigall
HOT SPRINGS – In what will go down as one of the best seasons in Hot Springs High School history, the 2022-23 Bison boys basketball team placed seventh overall in Class “A” after defeating Mount Vernon/Plankinton 60-50 on the third day of competition this past weekend in Sioux Falls. It was the first state tournament game win for Hot Springs since 1945, when the Bison defeated Leola in the Class “B” quarterfinals.
“This State Tournament was a great experience for everyone involved and special for so many reasons,” said Hot Springs head coach Aaron Noteboom. “We had a lot of fun and played some great basketball. Even though we didn’t come home with a state title like we wanted, we were able to make memories that will last for a lifetime.”
Earlier in the first round of this year’s tournament, Hot Springs fell to the eventual two-time, and undefeated, state champion Dakota Valley Panthers, who defeated Sioux Falls Christian in the championship finals by a score of 54-48. In the second round, Hot Springs lost to the Sioux Valley Cossacks 52-65, who later went on to win the consolation championship to place fifth after they beat St. Thomas More by a score of 34-33.
“This is a special team, not only because of how hard they worked this season to get to the state tournament, or because of their win/loss record, but for how these young men represented themselves for the community of Hot Springs.”
In their 60-50 win over Mount Vernon/Plankinton (MVP) on Saturday, March 18, Hot Springs began the game hot and took an early 7-1 lead, thanks to a pair of twos from Matt Close and Josh Kleinsasser and a three from Preston Iverson. The Titans then tightened up their defense to slow Hot Springs’ shooters while their offense went on a streak to outscore the Bison 15-4 to take a 16-11 lead early in the second quarter.
From there however, Hot Springs mounted their comeback and never looked back as they scored nine straight points to take a 20-16 advantage with 5:44 left in the half. The Bison were up by as many as seven points in the second quarter after scoring 12 points in the paint. They eventually took a 29-26 lead into halftime, after the Titans scored the final four points of the half.
The third quarter saw Hot Springs expand their lead once again to seven points (44-37), as Preston Iverson hit a three-pointer early followed by Maciejewski scoring the next five points and then Josh Kleinsasser hitting a big three-pointer with 2:26 to go, after MVP pulled to within one point (37-36).
The fourth quarter saw the Titans trying to slow, sending the Bison to the free throw line, which helped play into one of Hot Springs’ strengths as the team made 5-of-6 four shots to close out the game and take home the 10-point victory.
“They took an early lead in the first quarter but we buckled down defensively and were able to force a lot of turnovers and convert them into transition baskets to take control and come out with a win in our final game of the tournament,” said Coach Noteboom, as he described how Hot Springs forced a total of 23 turnovers in the game which they converted into 22 points, while committing just eight on their side of the stat sheet, which resulted in only seven points for the Titans.
Hot Springs had three players in double-digits scoring, led by Kleinsasser with 21 points, which was by far his best game of the tournament and included a team-high nine rebounds. He also had two blocked shots and four assists. His efforts in the win helped to earn him a spot on the Class “A” All-Tournament Team.
Close scored 15 with four assists and four steals. Maciejewski scored 10 points while adding six boards, four assists, two blocks and three steals. Preston Iverson shot 3-for-9 from three-point range to finish with nine points while adding a team-high six assists in his final basketball game as a senior. Sophomore Aidyn Janis also added three points with senior Will Gilbertson scoring two.
In Hot Springs’ first round game on Thursday, March 16, versus top-ranked Dakota Valley, the Bison shot really well from the field in the first quarter and were down by just 14-21 heading in the second quarter, thanks to three 3-pointers by Maciejewski and another by Preston Iverson to start the game. After that however, buckets became much harder to find for Hot Springs, as the Panthers outscored the Bison 47-14 in the second and third quarters combined, before eventually winning 80-47 while shooting more than 57% from the field.
“We had a tough draw against a Dakota Valley team who is the defending state champion, riding a state record win streak,” Coach Noteboom said. “We fought hard but sometimes you just run into a better team and Dakota Valley proved to be too much for us to handle. Even though we were all frustrated from the loss, this team continued showed their heart and left it all on the floor every game.”
Hot Springs was led in scoring by Maciejewski a total of 11 points, followed by Preston Iverson with 10 points and then Kleinsasser with seven points and six rebounds. Junior Braden Peterson and sophomore Aidyn Janis also each scored eight points apiece for Hot Springs coming off the bench. Dakota Valley meanwhile was led by Isaac Bruns with 24 points.
“Against Sioux Valley we faced another quality basketball team, anchored by a 6-foot, 10-inch SDSU commit,” said Coach Noteboom, referring to junior Alex Squires, who finished with a team-high 21 points in the game versus Hot Springs.
The Bison were on fire early on in this contest as they went on a 9-0 run to start the game, which included treys from Kleinsasser, Maciejewski and Iverson. Hot Springs held a 22-14 lead at the end of the first quarter, but were once again outscored in the second and third by a considerable margin, including being held to just two points in the third.
“I thought we played very well but a few missed opportunities offensively in the third quarter, which allowed them to make a run and we were never able to recover,” Coach Noteboom said. “Even though we lost, I felt like we played one of our best games of the season.”
Versus the Cossacks, Close led Hot Springs in scoring with 16 points, followed by Maciejewski with 15, Iverson with nine and Kleinsasser with eight.
Over the course of the three games, Maciejewski was the most consistent scorer for the Bison as he eclipsed double-digits in each game while averaging 12 points and five rebounds. Kleinsasser also averaged 12 points per game, which included a 21 point effort in their win over MVP. He also averaged a team-high seven rebounds. Close averaged 11 points per game, four rebounds and three assists per game, while Iverson averaged nine points, three boards and three assists.
Hot Springs finished the season with 20 wins and just six losses, while ending the year with a victory in the state tournament, which is something only four teams can do each year.
“This was one of the most fun and rewarding seasons I have ever been a part of and I want to give a special thanks Coach Jirsa and Coach Janis,” Noteboom stated. “These guys give so much of their time and energy coaching these kids and they all too often do not get the recognition they deserve. They both care deeply about these boys and sacrifice time away from their own families to help these young men achieve their goals each year. We are very blessed to have these two men working with our student athletes.”
Again reflecting back on his team’s season, Coach Noteboom game a special shout-out to his four outgoing seniors as well.
“In my experience, something that successful teams tend to have in common is senior leadership,” he said. “Preston Iverson, Landon Iverson, Will Gilbertson and Tyler Remington are not only talented basketball players but also great teammates and students. They are the type of kids that not only make us a better basketball team but also a better school each and every day. I am grateful I have had the opportunity to watch them grow into the young men they have become and proud to say I am their Coach. The future is bright for these Seniors and I know each of them will leave a positive impact wherever they go just as they did for this team and school over the last few years.”