Newsletter examines greatness of ’85 Bobcats

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Jim Holwerda      December marks the 30th anniversary of the crowning of one of our all-time greatest state champions. That team, the 1985 Brookings Bobcats, is featured in the 2015 Fall Newsletter published by the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame.

      Coach Jim Holwerda (right) and his Bobcats brought national attention to the state. USA TODAY  ranked Brookings as the No. 3 girls team in the country. Three of the team’s stars – Amy Mickelson, Renae Sallquist and Paula Kenefick – went on to major collegiate programs.

      Read about the undefeated Bobcats in our newsletter that was sent Nov. 23 to the nearly 1,000 people on our mailing list. The newsletter is free and is published in the spring and fall.

      There are many other items of interest in the newsletter. Such as a story about 1953’s five state champions. A look at the special bond that existed between a town and a college 30 miles away. Remembering a small school that cherished basketball before its doors closed forever. And a profile of a retired U.S. Air Force Major General who used his South Dakota upbringing as an essential resource in a journey through big-time collegiate basketball and a distinguished military career. We hope you find many things to enjoy in the newsletter.

Hall of Fame completes Phase I of Project

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Display at Pentagon

        Phase I of an ambitious project by the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame has been completed. The 40 x 70-inch panel shown above honors state championship teams during the one class era from 1912 through 1935. The panel is on permanent display in a second floor corridor of the Sanford Pentagon.

        Phase II is underway and will focus on the Class B champions from 1936 through 1960. When that panel is completed and exhibited, Phase III will target the Class A champions from that same period.

        There will be seven panels in all. When the entire project is completed all boys and girls championship teams prior to the start of the three class system in 1985 will be included. Also featured will be the Catholic state tournament champions from 1937 through 1964. Plans are being made to also recognize all three class champions.

        The panels will contain 8 x 10-inch pictures of each championship team, rosters, the final score of the championship game, and a list of the other schools that also participated in the tournament.  

Show your pride with a Hall of Fame ring

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Ring       The South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame has teamed with the Jostens Co. to create an elegant ring which commemorates membership in our elite Hall of Fame family.

      Features on each ring include the person’s last name and the year they were inducted, along with an insignia of the Sanford Pentagon, which serves as the home of the Hall of Fame. A replica of the Hall of Fame logo is crafted on the side of the ring while the top stone includes a basketball symbol surrounded by the words ‘South Dakota Hall of Fame’. The person’s full name will be engraved on the inside band of the ring.

      Any member of the Hall of Fame will be proud to own and wear such a meaningful reminder of the day they were inducted. Each ring is meticulously constructed of beautiful, enduring white metal and costs $274.54 including tax.

      Hall of Fame members and their families and friends can order a ring by simply mailing the name to be inscribed, the year inducted, choice of stone color, and the desired ring size to SDBBHOF, 2210 W. Pentagon Place, Sioux Falls, SD 57107. The purchaser should  include his or her name, mailing address, e-mail address if applicable, and telephone number. Payment can be made via check or by using the PayPal option located on the right side of this website.

      Enshrinement in the Hall of Fame is a great honor. This ring will be a reminder and will become a cherished keepsake.

Huron, ‘Huskers star Swett dies in Colorado

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South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame member Rex Swett with the letter jacket he wore at Nebraska and a wall display profiling his career as a multi-talented point guard for the Cornhuskers.

South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame member Rex Swett with the letter jacket he wore at Nebraska and a wall display profiling his career as a multi-talented point guard for the Cornhuskers.

        Rex Swett, who as a dynamic 6-foot-1 guard was among the premier players in the history of South Dakota basketball, died under hospice care Aug. 2, 2015, in Denver. He was 76.

         A longtime resident of Colorado, he had practiced dentistry in Evergreen. He lived in Denver.

        Swett was a charter member of the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame. He was a standout at Huron High School and the University of Nebraska.

        Huron won the Class A state championship when Swett was a senior in 1958. That team finished with a 22-0 record and is considered one of the greatest ever in South Dakota.

        Swett was an Eastern South Dakota Conference scoring champion for Huron. He went on to become a three-year starter in the Big 8 Conference at Nebraska. Swett also started for three years in baseball for the Cornhuskers as a shortstop.

        MEMORIALS — The following people have made donations to the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame in memory of Rex Swett: Bruce & Jacqueline Allen; Jim & Maggie Bloom; Gordon Fosness; Marilyn Sprang Fransen; Lucretia Gordon; Wynn & Lorraine Gunderson; Everett Hoyt; Marilyn Hoyt; Clayton Jacoby; Harvey Kjellson; Thomas Monheim; Sherm & Vivian Monroe; Sarah Riehl; John Simko; Dave Strain; Bob & Trish Swanhorst; Wayne & Marilyn Thue; Elizabeth Timm; Dave & Linda Wagner; William Walsh.

Hammon guides Spurs to Summer League Title

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Becky Hammon        San Antonio won the 2015 Las Vegas Summer League by defeating the Phoenix Suns 93-90 in the championship game on July 20. The Spurs were coached by Becky Hammon, who is a charter member of the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame.

        Hammon was a Rapid City Stevens star who played collegiately at Colorado State University. She was a standout in the WNBA with the New York Liberty and the San Antonio Stars. Hammon, 38, became the first woman to be a full-time assistant coach in the NBA when Spurs coach Gregg Popovich added her to his staff prior to the 2014-15 season.

        The Summer League is an important proving ground for young NBA players and prospects. Jonathon Simmons, a 6-foot-6 guard hoping to make the San Antonio regular-season roster for the upcoming season, led the Spurs with 23 points against Phoenix.

         Simmons was named Most Valuable Player of the title game and later used Twitter to praise Hammon’s coaching ability. “She did a great job with us,” wrote the former University of Houston player. “She was solid the whole way.”

Original Board Member Furness Dies at 81

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Gene Furness      The South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame has lost one of its most loyal friends. Gene Furness died under hospice care at the Golden Living Center in Clark on June 18, 2015. He was 81.

      When the Hall of Fame was chartered in 2009, Furness was a member of the original board of directors. He was involved in the crafting of the organization’s policies. Through the  years that followed he made significant contributions to both the growth and success of the Hall of Fame.

      Furness excelled in sports at Watertown High School, before graduating in 1952 and attending South Dakota State University. Later he earned a master’s degree from Northern State University.

      He was a teacher, coach and administrator at first Clark and then Waubay from 1959 until his retirement in 2000. While at Clark he coached the Comets to Class B state basketball tournament appearances in 1961, 1964 and 1967.

Mailing list includes friends from 30 states

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         Copies of our 2015 Spring Newsletter have been mailed to friends of the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame who live in 30 different states. The newsletter is free and published twice each year, in the spring and the fall.

        Followers of the Hall of Fame reside from California in the west to Massachusetts in the east. And from North Dakota in the north to Texas in the south. A total of nearly 1,000 people will receive the newsletter.

        “The large number of people who have already asked to be placed on our mailing list is very gratifying to us,” said Dave Wagner, executive director of the Hall of Fame. “We are encouraged that so many others, from all across the nation, share our enthusiasm and commitment to South Dakota basketball.”

        States represented by friends of the Hall of Fame who are on our mailing list include Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Spring newsletter profiles legendary coach

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img003      Parker High School’s basketball program was a model of consistency under the direction of Gayle Hoover (right) for more than three decades. The Pheasants won 577 games and averaged 17 victories per season. Hoover was a rarity in that he spent his entire South Dakota coaching career at the same school. He guided the Pheasants for 34 years.

      The 2015 Spring Newsletter of the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame examines Hoover’s career and legacy through the eyes of five of his former players.

       Friends of the Hall of Fame receive the newsletter at their home. It was mailed June 3. The newsletter is free and published twice yearly. If you do not receive a copy and want to be added to our mailing list, email your name and home address (not your email address) to Or phone executive director Dave Wagner at (605) 467-3010.

      The newsletter also features several other noteworthy stories. Among them are a look at Yankton’s dominance of the one-class era; a 1925 team that did not win a title but may have been the state’s best; Wakonda’s 101-game winning streak; and a man who learned about basketball in South Dakota and then became one of California’s greatest coaches.

      We think the newsletter delves into topics that are of interest to all who love the game. We hope that you agree.

Contact the HOF with Comments, Nominations

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       After a successful and well attended HOF Weekend, the 2015 Induction Ceremony and Banquet are now pleasant memories and the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame looks toward the future. Our Selection Committee has started the process of researching and evaluating potential candidates for induction in the Class of 2016.

        We would like to encourage fans to share their thoughts about the Hall of Fame and to submit worthy nominations for consideration. To make comments about any topics — including the banquet, website, newsletter and our display at the Sanford Pentagon — please click on Contact on this website, list your name and leave your comments.

       The Hall of Fame seeks to honor the greatest players in state history. To nominate a former standout who has been out of high school at least 15 years click on Nomination Form on this website and follow the instructions  to download the form. Then complete the form and mail it to us at our Pentagon home using the address provided.

       Thanks to everyone who has supported the Hall of Fame and we ask for your continued support. To the many people already on our mailing list, please note that we will be sending out our 2015 Spring Newsletter  in about a month.

The Hall of Fame Class of 2015

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Class of 2015       

        Membership in the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame expanded to 98 with the induction of 16 former greats in the Class of 2015. The sixth annual banquet was held March 28 at the Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls.

        The Hall of Fame is proud to welcome, from left, in back, Jim Dyer (Willow Lake ’60), John Sivesind (Sioux Falls Roosevelt ’96), Chuck Iverson (Vermillion ’69), Jim Mitchell (South Dakota School for the Deaf ’54), Jim Tays (Gettysburg ’50), Marv Rasmussen (Claremont ’55) and Lorre Colburn representing the late Lee Colburn (Brookings ’69).

        In front, John Eidsness (Canton ’66), Amy Burnett (Huron ’91), Carla Allard-Watson (Bennett County ’87), Katie Dailey (Jefferson ’81), Julie (Jensen) Rozell (Langford ’91), Vince Whipple (Rapid City ’56) and Mike Freier (Tripp ’67).

        Completing the Class of 2015 are the late Ray Hamann (Yankton ’31) and the late Jimmy Lovley (Elkton ’20). To read bios of  this year’s honorees, as well as of all other Hall of Fame members, please click on Inductees on this website.