Aberdeen Central and Northern State University alum Brianna Kusler is stepping into a historic new role with Pierre TF Riggs. After spending the past year coaching the Governors boys basketball sophomore team, she was announced Wednesday as the new boys basketball varsity coach for the school. Kusler becomes the first female to coach a boys basketball varsity team at the ‘AA’ level in South Dakota history.
In an interview with David Burrall of DRG Media Group in Pierre, Kusler explained that whether it’s girls or boys basketball, the game itself is the same.
“A pick and roll in the women’s game is the same as a pick and roll in the men’s game, a layup is the same all the way across the board,” said Kusler. “I’ve been led by some extremely strong, independent women that have truly shaped me to set my dreams as high as they can be.”
Kusler grew up in Aberdeen and played high school ball for Dawn Seiler at Aberdeen Central. As a senior with the Golden Eagles, she received First Team All-State honors. Kusler was also named to the All-ESD conference team her junior and senior year. Additionally, Kusler helped lead Aberdeen Central to their first ever girls state basketball title in 2016.
After high school, she attended Northern State University where, as a freshman, she saw action in every game during her first season for the Wolves. Kusler earned NSIC All-Conference second team honors as a junior and then first team conference honors as a senior. She scored 1,129 career points at the collegiate level for NSU.
Kusler's high school alma mater, Aberdeen Central, is also a ‘AA’ program, which means the Governors and Golden Eagles are regular season opponents in a normal year. Kusler’s younger brother Braxton plays for Aberdeen Central. He’ll be a sophomore next season.
“My youngest brother is still playing there, so there’s always that element. The family tie is there. Coach Seiler has already messaged me and she said that she’ll be cheering me on, except for against the Eagles, so that’ll take some getting use to,” joked Kusler. “The experiences I had at Aberdeen Central were phenomenal and they’ve really shaped me to who I am today. I couldn’t thank them enough, really, but now I’m eager to take those experiences, and what I’ve learned, and bring it to the Gov’s.”
Kusler will take over a Pierre program, who last year went 7-12 and was eliminated in the SoDak 16 by O'Gorman. The Governors haven’t qualified for the boys state basketball tournament since 2017. Their last boys hoops state championship came in 2013. Kusler will take over for Terry Becker, who coached Pierre for 17 years. He won 201 games throughout his tenure with the Governors.