Author Archive

Remembering a phenom from the past

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        Rarely has South Dakota produced a player who was so good at such a young age. Many observers considered him destined to eventually assume a place among the state’s best ever. But fate took him down a different path.

        Read about him in the 2017 Spring Newsletter to be published in May by the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame. Several other interesting stories  in the free newsletter also await the people on our mailing list:

       * Two games, seven years apart, that were so unique that they made history and remain remarkable decades later.

       * A very small town that challenged the big schools in a memorable one-class state tournament during the 1930s.

       * The respect earned by a South Dakota team which boldly believed it could compete against the nation’s best.

The Hall of Fame Class of 2017

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The Class of 2017, from left, front, Mike Sisk, John Lillibridge, Joe Ashley, Gary Evjen, Guy Mackner. Middle, Ann Pancoast, Leatrice Big Crow representing her late daughter SuAnne, xxxx representing her late father "Sunny" Jim Schmidt, Kriss Edwards, Donna Muir. Back, Terry Jordre, Jerry Buri and Ron Bertsch.

The Class of 2017, from left, front, Mike Sisk, John Lillibridge, Joe Ashley, Gary Evjen, Guy Mackner. Middle, Ann Pancoast, Leatrice Big Crow representing her late daughter SuAnne Big Crow, Nancy Schmidt representing her late father Jim Schmidt, Kriss Edwards, Donna Muir. Back, Terry Jordre, Jerry Buri and Ron Bertsch. (John Simko Photo)

        Thirteen new members were inducted into the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame before a large and appreciative audience March 25 in the Jefferson Room at the Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls.

        Members of the Class of 2017 were honored during the eighth annual induction banquet. They increase membership in the Hall of Fame to 130 of the greatest players ever to perform in the state.

        The board of directors will soon begin the important process of evaluating nominees for the Class of 2018. To see selection criteria, and to download an official nomination form, click on Nomination Form on this website.

Thorpes honored at 8th annual banquet

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Members of the 1987 Thorpes were, from left, front, Ron Martin, Jeff Big Crow, Jon Garnier, Jim Colhoff, Joe Mesteth, Don Garnier. Back, Bart Ecoffey, Tony Brewer, George Bettelyoun, Bryan Brewer, Brent Brewer, Willie White, Paul Cedar Face and Coach Jesse Mendoza.

Members of the 1987 Pine Ridge Thorpes were, from left, front, Ron Martin, Jeff Big Crow, Jon Garnier, Jim Colhoff, Joe Mesteth, Don Garnier. Back, Bart Ecoffey, Tony Brewer, George Bettelyoun, Bryan Brewer, Brent Brewer, Willie White, Paul Cedar Face and Coach Jesse Mendoza. Pine Ridge was 26-0 and is the Team of Excellence for 2017.

        The Pine Ridge  High School Thorpes made one of the most spectacular comebacks in the history of  state championship games in South Dakota when they defeated Lennox in the finals of the 1987 Class A tournament.
        With time expiring in the third quarter, Lennox led by 13 points. The Thorpes rallied back and eventually won by seven, 60-53. Pine Ridge finished with a perfect 26-0 record and because of its impressive accomplishments is being recognized as the Team of Excellence for 2017 by the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame.
        The Thorpes and Coach Jesse Mendoza were saluted during the eighth annual Hall of Fame induction banquet March 25 at the Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls. Inducted during the banquet were 13 former greats.

Miller, Nuggets tie NBA 3-point record

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Miller with Nuggets        Denver converted 24 3-point goals in a 132-110 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 13. That performance tied the NBA record for the most 3-pointers in a game originally set by the Houston Rockets.

        Mike Miller went 2-for-2 from long range to help the Nuggets to the record before a sellout crowd of 19,941 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

        The 6-foot-8 Miller is a former Mitchell High School standout who was chosen Class AA first team all-state  for the Kernels in 1996, 1997 and 1998. He played collegiately at the University of Florida and was inducted into the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

        Miller is in his 17th year in the NBA and has now moved within 35 points of the 11,000 career-point plateau. He has scored 10,965 points and is a career 41 percent shooter on 3-pointers with 1,588 goals.

        Before joining the Nuggets prior to last season, Miller had spent time with Orlando, Memphis, Minnesota, Washington, Miami and Cleveland.

Endowment provides stability for future

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        In its eight years of existence the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame has strived to rekindle memories of the past while exploring many of the most treasured moments in our state’s rich basketball history.

        Of utmost importance to the Board of Directors is the implementation of a strategic plan that will enable an adequate level of financial health for the organization. Our goal is to ensure that the Hall of Fame has the necessary resources to fulfill its mission well into the distant future. The Board of Directors has therefore authorized the creation of an endowment fund through the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation.

        Leon and Virginia Tobin of Aberdeen provided an initial gift of $5,000. Since then the Board of Directors has been gratified by the response of others who share our love of South Dakota basketball and our desire to preserve its history. Click on ‘Our Donors’ on this website to see a list of our generous contributors and to learn how you too can help.

        The Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization which was chartered as a 501(c)(3) in 2009 and is located in the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. We believe our endowment will allow us to enhance our outreach moving forward. Our commitment is to provide current and future generations with access to a glorious past that should never be forgotten.

Reserve your Tickets for induction Banquet

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          Plan to join us as we welcome 13 new members into the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, March 25. Tickets now are available to the public for the eighth annual induction banquet  in the Jefferson Room at the Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls. The cost is $35 per ticket and $10 for children ages 10 and younger.

          Tickets include the induction program, a banquet meal and a souvenir booklet. Orders can be made via the PayPal option on this website or by sending a check to SDBBHOF, 2210 W. Pentagon Place, Sioux Falls, SD 57107. All tickets purchased in either manner will be reserved and may be claimed at the Will-Call Table when you arrive for the banquet.

           Doors will open at 10 a.m. On display will be memorabilia exhibits of the inductees who comprise the Class of 2017. The banquet starts at 1 p.m. with the meal to follow. Tickets will also be available at the door for $40 and $15.

           An informal reception for inductees will be from 4-6 p.m. on Friday, March 24, in the Jefferson Room. The reception is free and dress is casual. Refreshments will be available. Members of the Class of 2017 will be present and the public is encouraged to attend. Also on hand will be many Hall of Fame members who were inducted in previous years. Hall of Fame tours at the Sanford Pentagon will be available per request from 1-4 p.m. prior to the reception.

Six decades represented in Class of 2017

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          Thirteen former greats have been selected for induction into the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017. The eighth annual induction banquet will be at 1 p.m. on March 25  at the Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls.

          Members of the Class of 2017 include standouts from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. They will increase Hall of Fame membership to 130. At the banquet the 1987 Pine Ridge Thorpes will be honored as a Team of Excellence. Pine Ridge, coached by Jesse Mendoza, won the Class A state boys title and went 26-0. The Class of 2017:

         * Joe Ashley, Pierre (Pierre 1979): The 7-foot Ashley recorded 405 career blocked shots and led the Governors to the Class A state title as a senior. He played collegiately at Iowa State University and South Dakota State University.

        * Ron Bertsch, Yankton (St. Lawrence 1961): Bertsch ranked among the state’s career scoring leaders with 2,012 points for the Wolves. He established a Yankton College record when he netted 1,606 points as a Greyhound.

         * SuAnne Big Crow (Pine Ridge 1992): The late Big Crow scored 2,541 career points and led the Lady Thorpes to the Class A title in 1989. She tallied a state girls single-game record 67 points and was first team all-state three years.

         * Jerry Buri, Montgomery, Texas (Hazel 1960): After scoring 1,937 points for the Mustangs, Buri was a three-year letterman at South Dakota State University. He helped the Jackrabbits to the 1963 NCAA College Division title.

         * Kriss Edwards, Seattle, Wash. (Watertown 1977): Edwards was a talented point guard who led the Arrows to the Class A title in 1976. She went on to set University of Nebraska-Omaha career records for both assists and steals.

         * Gary Evjen, Sioux Falls (Sioux Falls Washington 1968): Evjen averaged 15 points per game as a Warrior senior. He had 2,288 career points at Northern State University and was all-South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference four years.

         * Terry Jordre, Aberdeen (Corona 1957): A skilled floor leader, Jordre was also a defensive specialist for the Midgets. While at Northern State University the Wolves won four South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference titles.

        * John Lillibridge, Burke (Burke 1958): Lillibridge achieved career totals of 1,984 points and 1,008 rebounds for the Bulldogs. At the University of South Dakota he played basketball and was a record setting discus champion in track.

         * Guy Mackner, Sisseton (Sisseton 1965): A stalwart for the Redmen and an all-North Central Conference player for South Dakota State University, the 6-foot-7 Mackner was selected by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1969 NBA Draft.

         * Donna Muir, Norfolk, Va. (Cheyenne-Eagle Butte 1978): First team all-state three years, Muir averaged 23.2 points per game for the Braves in her senior season. She played for the Lady Statesmen of Delta State University (Miss.).

         * Ann Pancoast, Ballwin, Mo. (Sioux Falls Washington 1981): Pancoast and the Warriors were 23-0 and Class A state champions in 1980. She was then all-North Central Conference three years for the University of South Dakota.

         * Jim Schmidt (Dell Rapids St. Mary 1941): Known as “Sunny” Jim, the late Schmidt was all-Catholic state tourney four years. While at South Dakota State University he was North Central Conference scoring champion twice.

         * Mike Sisk, Mesa, Ariz. (Miller 1957): Sisk averaged 18 points per game in his final two seasons as a Rustler. He was a three-year South Dakota State University starter as the Jackrabbits won North Central Conference titles each season.

HOF speakers are available for presentations

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     Are you familiar with the inspirational story of Jimmy Lovley? As a young man in 1920 he left the small eastern South Dakota town of Elkton. His destination was Omaha where he became a Creighton University basketball immortal.

     Lovley was an All-American and the only South Dakotan inducted into the prestigious Helms Foundation Basketball Hall of Fame. His career was legendary and is merely a single thread in the tapestry of basketball history in our state.

     The South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame is proud to offer a speaker’s bureau to help you learn more about the state’s rich basketball heritage as well as the creation and evolution of the Hall of Fame.

     If you are a member of a civic, church, school or social group that would like to schedule a free presentation contact Executive Director Dave Wagner by email at dlwagner@tnics.com or by telephone at 605-467-3010.

Revisit the path that led S.D. to three classes

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The Armour Packers of 1987, after winning their fifth consecutive Class B state girls title, were, from left, kneeling, Rita Freidel and Bonnie Hrdlicka. Middle, Jodi Pipes, Dana Nielsen, Jennifer Hawley, Tammy Weisser,  Peggy Leonard, Christa VanZee, Meg Nase and Krista McFarland. And back, Michelle Kelly, Nicole DeVries and manager Amy Stern.

The Armour Packers of 1987, after winning their fifth consecutive Class B state girls title, were, from left, kneeling, Rita Freidel and Bonnie Hrdlicka. Middle, Jodi Pipes, Dana Nielsen, Jennifer Hawley, Tammy Weisser, Peggy Leonard, Christa VanZee, Meg Nase and Krista McFarland. And back, Michelle Kelly, Nicole DeVries and manager Amy Stern.

Delbert Gillam (34) scored 72 points in a single game for Argonne during 1953.

Delbert Gillam (34) scored 72 points in a single game for Argonne during 1953.

       The makeup of South Dakota high school basketball was changed dramatically when the controversial decision was made to discard the two-class system that had been in effect from 1936 through 1985.

        The 2016 Fall Newsletter of the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame examines the decision to change to three classes. Profiled is the man, Q.C. Miles, who played an integral role in the process. And included is a recap of the voting for the top players of the two-class era.

        Also featured are the Armour Packers and their five consecutive Class B state girls championships. The Packers compiled an overall 123-4 record while winning titles in 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987.

        And the newsletter introduces readers to high scoring Delbert Gillam of the Argonne Arrows. His average of 25.9 points per game as a senior in the 1953 season included an amazing single-game record outburst of 72.

        Those on the Hall of Fame mailing list were sent the newsletter on Nov. 16. We publish two issues per year and they are distributed free.

        To get your name on our mailing list provide your home address to Executive Director Dave Wagner at dlwagner@tnics.com.

The Golden Anniversary of an historic “B”

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        Fifty years ago Tripp High School was preparing to open a season that would end with Coach Jim Flevares and his Wildcats cutting down the nets at the Sioux Falls Arena as undefeated Class B state champions of 1967.

        It was a memorable tournament because of Tripp’s 28-0 record and the unprecedented 103-point scoring of Mike Freier. State tournaments in South Dakota date back to 1912 and until Freier no player had ever reached 100.

        The Wildcats topped Beresford in the first round as Freier had 32 points. He went for 36 in the semifinals against Frederick. Tripp beat Herreid 72-46 in the finals as Freier scored 35. In the tourney the 5-foot-9 guard shot 93 percent on free throws (25 of 27) and 62 percent from the field. Many of his shots were long range before the 3-point goal.

        Freier played one season at the University of South Dakota and then finished his career as a standout at Yankton College for the Greyhounds. He was inducted into the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.