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Michael Eastmo, 52, congratulates Ryder Kirsch, 24, during a timeout of the Cavalier Christmas Classic at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

We're about a third into the high school basketball season and the "we'll see what you're made up of," part of the schedules.

For many area teams, this weekend will play into that next step and continue throughout the rest of the month into postseason play in late February.

One team on the rise so far is the Sturgis Brown boys, under the direction of veteran and first-year head coach Derris Buus.

Sturgis is 7-0 on the young season, but will host Rapid City Central tonight and be at Rapid City Stevens Friday night.

Year-in and year-out, Sturgis teams battle for regional supremacy with the two larger Rapid City schools, and try to use a bit of David versus Goliath mentality in doing so.

The Scoopers are off to a nice start, but beginning this weekend will step up their schedule that also includes a road games at Pierre, unbeaten Hot Springs and a talented Red Cloud squad, with homes games against St. Thomas More, Mitchell and Huron.

They'll close the season with another home and away series with Stevens and Central before beginning postseason play and the Round of 16, which was a disappointment to the Scoopers last season after a strong regular season.

Stevens and Central, after multiple graduation losses of a year ago, are coming along as well, with the Raiders 6-2 and the Cobblers 5-4 (after opening the season 0-3 in the Gillette tournament).

Both teams are showing progress and building to the end of the year, as usual.

Dave Hollenbeck's STM team is also off to a nice start as one of three unbeaten teams, 6-0, in Class A (Black Hills Conference foe Hot Springs, 3-0, and Sioux Falls Christian, 7-0).

After hosting Custer tonight, the Cavs will be tested Saturday at the Pentagon Heritage Classic in Sioux Falls against Unity Christian, Iowa, and Jan 19 at the Hanson Classic in Mitchell.

On Feb. 2, the Cavs will take on Sioux Falls Christian at the Pentagon in Sioux Falls. STM will also compete in the DWU Classic in Mitchell and close the season on the road at Class AA powers Yankton and Brandon Valley.

There's no doubt, barring injuries, the Cavaliers will be battle tested before postseason play.

Hot Springs has played just three games this season, so it's hard to tell which way the Bison will be going. They'll shoot for their third straight West River Invitational title Saturday night at Barnett Arena.

Hot Springs will have a tough three-game series in early February against Sturgis, Red Cloud and St. Thomas More, and will close the regular season at one-loss (to date) Rapid City Christian.

There's quite a battle brewing in Pine Ridge these days between Pine Ridge and Red Cloud. So far, call it a draw. The Thorpes ran past the Crusaders by 20 points early in the Lakota Nation Invitational in Rapid City, and last week Red Cloud held off Pine Ridge on the Thorpes' home court 68-65.

Red Cloud, 8-1, is led by senior and South Dakota School of Mines recruit Ale Rama, who has been nothing short of spectacular this season, averaging 32.4 points a game, 10.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 4.1 steals a game.

Red Cloud will face George-Little Rock, Iowa, Saturday at the Pentagon.

Pine Ridge, 7-2, will have a tough matchup at 6-2 winner Jan. 17 and will be at Class B No. 3 White River Jan. 25, before competing in a couple of Saturday "classic" games at Dakota State and Dakota Wesleyan.

Rapid City Christian, 5-1, suffered its first loss of the season last Saturday against a good Class B Jones County team in the Kadoka Classic. The Cavaliers have a busy week hosting Harding County tonight and a good 6-1 Lemmon squad Saturday in a game that was added this week. The Comets were to play a makeup game Saturday from the weathered out Parkston Classic (Corsica-Stickney), but that matchup was canceled.

Rapid City Christian will also play in the Hanson Classic at the Corn Palace.

In Class B, both White River and Timber Lake are unbeaten and ranked in the top five.

On the girls' side, St. Thomas More suffered a rare loss last week, losing to Elk Point-Jefferson 40-38 in Elk Point, but came back to beat Tea Area in overtime 56-46 in Tea.

STM will be tested yet again Saturday against No. 1 Lennox at the Hanson Classic in Mitchell. The 7-1 Cavs will also be at unbeaten Winner Feb. 1 and close the regular-season at AA Yankton and Brandon Valley.

Look for the Cavaliers, despite fighting inexperience and injuries, to still go into the postseason with a shot at their sixth straight state title.

STM's Black Hills Conference foe, Belle Fourche, is off to a nice 9-0 start and knocking on the door in the Class A rankings.

The big BHC battle with STM will be Jan. 18 at St. Thomas More.

In Class AA, Rapid City Stevens is putting things together after a tough opening-season loss (59-30) to Brandon Valley. The Raiders have won seven straight and will host Sturgis Friday night.

Stevens will also host Roosevelt and O'Gorman (5-1) Jan. 18-19 and be in Sioux Falls against Washington (6-1) and Lincoln Feb. 8-9.

Central, meanwhile, is a steady 5-3 with a young team and will host Sturgis tonight and Campbell County on Saturday. 

The Scoopers, meanwhile, are off to a nice 6-1 start and look to challenge Central and Stevens this weekend. A big Jan. 24 home matchup with STM is also looming large.

Faith is one of five unbeaten Class B girls' teams in the state and should play its way into Saturday's West River Invitational finals. The Lady Longhorns have won by an average of about 36 points a game this season.

New Underwood is off to a nice 7-1 start, with its lone loss to Faith a couple of weeks ago. The Tigers are looking for their second straight state tournament appearance.

There's still a lot of season remaining and we're just getting warmed up. It should be fun.

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