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Cooper Cornemann, A High School Career To Remember

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Cooper Cornemann's Story
Yankton Press & Dakotan

Everybody knows the name Matthew Mors, but Yankton was a team with two division one players on its roster this year. Mors is only a junior, and he’s committed to playing for the University of Wisconsin in college. The other is Cooper Cornemann, who a few weeks ago announced he was going to walk-on to play basketball next year for South Dakota State University.

The name ‘Cornemann’ is no stranger to SDSU, especially in the game of basketball. Cooper’s two older sisters, Ketty and Chloe, played college ball in Brookings for the Jackrabbits women’s basketball program.

“If you would have told me when I was watching Chloe or Ketty, if I wanted to play for the Jackrabbits, there wouldn't have been a question about it. So I kind of just followed what I've been dreaming of for a while. So that's kind of what led me to go there.”

Cooper (left), Ketty (middle), and Chloe (right) Cornemann

Cooper's dad Dave wrestled for South Dakota State as well in the 80's. During that time he won a national championship.

Cornemann grew up living in Yankton, though, roughly twenty miles away from the University of South Dakota, the rival school to South Dakota State. Just because his family legacy pointed one direction, Cornemann also had an option presented itself in Vermillion.

“About two-and-a-half, three weeks before my decision, I got in contact with USD Men’s Coach Coach Todd Lee, and they also had an open walk on spot,” said Cornemann. “They offered it to me and stuff. It could have gone either way, but then I ended up picking SDSU.”

Growing up, Cooper has strong memories of watching his two sisters play college ball at Frost Arena.

“Mainly the atmosphere. I've talked to my sisters, I've talked to people, and they love Jackrabbit sports. That's their pride and joy, so being a part of that, I think would be very special,” stated Cornemann. “And that's something you don't always get out of a D-II program, you won't get something like that. I just can't wait for the first game in Frost. I want to be on the court one time, and not right behind the bleachers in the parent’s section.”

As for his high school career, Cooper Cornemann sort of experienced it all. Especially over these past three years. It was the ultimate roller coaster ride.

Sophomore Season 2017-18

The Yankton Bucks weren’t terrible during the 2017-18 season, but they also weren’t elite. At least, from a record standpoint. They went into the state tournament as the No. 11 ranked team, following an upset victory in the SoDak 16. This matched Yankton up in the quarterfinal round of the state tournament against No. 3 seeded Sioux Falls Lincoln. Yankton would upset a strong Patriots team, take down Rapid City Central in the semifinals, and then top Harrisburg for the ‘AA’ title – the first state title for the Bucks boys basketball program in 40 years.

“It was very unexpected. I mean, we always thought as a team, we knew that we had some seniors that had played a lot of basketball. They were really smart, and then we had the best player in the state (Matthew Mors) who can carry a big load,” said Cornemann. “And when he needed to pass it, we had guys that could get the job done when needed to, and luckily in big moments too.”

Junior Season 2018-19

When you win a state championship, the only thing that makes it better is to repeat the previous success. That’s exactly what Yankton went out to do during Corenmann’s junior year. For most of the season, the Bucks were a top seed, which ended in them traveling to Rapid City for the state tournament.

The semifinal matchup between Yankton and O’Gorman is something that will be remembered forever, but not in a good way. Nixon had Watergate, the 2009 New Orleans Saints had Bountygate, and during the 2019 ‘AA’ boys state basketball tournament, Buzzergate was born.

With 6.1 seconds to play, Yankton held a one-point lead over the Knights. The rest is history…

The shot shouldn’t have counted, as it was heavily discussed over the next 24 hours. But at that time there was no ‘instant replay review’ in the rulebook, so the official’s decision on the court stood. Yankton was therefore eliminated from title contention and a repeat would NOT happen.

That stuck with most of our guys throughout the next summer, because after you feel that in the locker room, after you feel like you've been stolen from, you don't really forget about that. It will stay with you through your next summer, and then into the next season,” said Cornemann.

Senior Season 2019-20

Yankton was projected No. 1 in the preseason polls and remained at the top for basically the entire 2019-20 season. The Bucks qualified for the state tournament once again – earning the No. 1 seed.

That’s when the unexpected once again happened…

COVID-19 forced the postponement and then cancelation of all six state basketball tournaments in South Dakota, meaning Yankton would once again miss the opportunity to win another title. For Cornemann, who is a senior, this meant the end of the line for his high school career.

“It didn’t hit me abruptly I guess,” said Cornemann. “When they got postponed, and all the NCAA’s were canceling, I didn’t really think there was another option for us. I kind of expected it [to be canceled]. I’m wishing we could have played, but I kind of figured we weren’t going to.”

What's Next?

While Cornemann’s story is just one of many in South Dakota this year, it doesn’t mean the journey is over for him. With his sights now set on his college career in Brookings, one could say the story of Cooper Cornemann is just getting started.


Cooper Cornemann | In Play Conversations (Episode #5)

Yankton senior Cooper Cornemann joined SDPB to discuss the cancellation of spring sports, high school basketball career, and how he is prepping for college basketball at SDSU next year.

To submit a sports story idea to SDPB, email