ROCKWELL CITY - The St. Edmond boys begin their quest for a 14th state tournament appearance this evening.
The Gaels (15-6 overall) take on South Central Calhoun (16-6) here in a Class 2A, District 3 semifinal at 8 p.m.
Awaiting the winner will be either East Sac County or Manson Northwest Webster on Tuesday in the district final at a site to be determined. Those two tip at 6:30 p.m. in the Titan gym.
Since winning state gold in 2000, St. Edmond has advanced to the elite eight six times, scoring four second place finishes in that span. Adolph Kochendorfer knows what it will take to get the Gaels back to that point this year.
"They know this is win or go home now," Kochendorfer said. "I don't think they are feeling any more pressure than just that.
"We try not to hype it up more than any regular season game."
Robby Burke is the leader for St. Edmond, as the senior is averaging 22.5 points and 12.2 rebounds per game. Classmate Konrad Laufersweiler is second in scoring at 12.5, while Landon Peed and Matthew Bocken average eight.
All five starters - Burke, Laufersweiler, Peed, Bocken and T.J. O'Tool - were vital parts of the SEHS football team that made it to the state finals this past fall.
"I don't worry too much about playoff experience by this point in the season," Kochendorfer said. "We just need to play our game. These kids have 21 games under their belts now, so they know what it will take."
"We need to defend and rebound, and if we do those two things, we'll be in a good position to win the game at the end."
South Central Calhoun, coached by veteran Clive Clark, is gunning for its first state berth as a consolidated program. Rockwell City-Lytton made it to state four times, the last of which came in 2006, while Southern Cal qualified once.
Jake Petzenhauser paces the Titans, as the senior is averaging 20.8 points. He has also dished out 80 assists and has 62 steals - both team highs.
Ryan Daisy, a junior who has experienced the big stage at state cross country, is averaging a double-double at 10.4 points and 10 rebounds a night.
"They are a dribble-drive team that is quick," said Kochendorfer, who said they are similar to North Central Conference rivals Algona and Hampton-Dumont. "A lot more teams, though, are going to that style if they are lacking a true post player."
Earlier this week, South Central Calhoun defeated Pocahontas Area, 67-52, in a district quarterfinal. They have won two straight and are 8-3 in their last 11 games overall.
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Raiders (18-3) will be looking to advance to a substate final for the second straight year.
Led by South Dakota State University signee Reed Tellinghuisen, East Sac County has won six in a row. Tellinghuisen is averaging 23.4 points and almost nine boards.
The Cougars (16-6) have three players in double figures, including Hudson Spedding. The senior is averaging 15, while junior Cal Twait (13.6) and 10th-grader Jackson Johnson (11) are right behind.