S.D. stars aligned in basketball, track & field

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        South Dakota has a long history of producing outstanding all-around athletes who demonstrate the ability to master more than one sport. Throughout the decades there have been many who have worn multiple uniforms, depending on the sport in season, and have proven able to excel in all of their varied athletic endeavors.

        Sixty-five years ago, after the 1959 school year had ended, the list of South Dakota’s all-time state records in high school and college track and field revealed a talented group of multi-sport athletes, several whose names still resonate today.

        Some of those track record holders in 1959 were destined in later years to be inducted into the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame.

        Jim Tays cleared 6 feet, 3 inches at a meet in 1949 to set the state high school record in the high jump that still stood in 1959. He graduated from Gettysburg in 1950 and then attended the University of South Dakota. Competing in both basketball and track, Tays (in the USD photo at right) starred for the Coyotes in both sports. He was all-North Central Conference in basketball and he set a state college record of 6-4 in the high jump in 1954. Tays was inducted into the SDBBHOF in 2015.

        Rex Swett led Huron to the championship of the State Class A Basketball Tournament as a senior in 1958 before becoming a basketball and baseball stalwart at the University of Nebraska. He placed his name in the state high school track record book when he clocked a time of 21.9 seconds in the 220-yard dash in 1957. Swett was inducted into the SDBBHOF as part of the inaugural class in 2010.

        Garney Henley starred in basketball, football and track at Hayti before graduating in 1955. He continued his multi-sport career at Huron College, setting a state college record of 24.4 seconds in the 220-yard hurdles in 1959, before a career in the Canadian Football League. Henley was inducted into the SDBBHOF in 2013.

Dakota Valley winning streak reached 62 games

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        For parts of the last four seasons Dakota Valley High School was steadily stalking the all-time state record for consecutive victories in boys basketball. The Panthers of Coach Jason Kleis concluded last season with 53 wins in a row.

        Dakota Valley this season is led by 6-foot-7 senior Jaxson Wingert and 6-2 junior Luke Bruns. The Panthers started 9-0 to stretch their streak to 62 straight wins — two shy of tying the record — before falling to Hamlin 84-62. Dakota Valley won Class A state titles in both 2022 and 2023. The Panthers went 26-0 each season. The streak began when Dakota Valley won the third-place game in the 2021 state tournament.

        Isaac Bruns (left) and Randy Rosenquist Jr. (right) were driving forces in the Panthers’ undefeated dominance during the 2022 and 2023 seasons. Both earned first team all-state honors as juniors and again as seniors. Bruns ranks as Dakota Valley’s career scoring leader after netting a total of 2,309 points.

        Both former Panther standouts are now making significant contributions on their respective collegiate teams this season as true freshmen. Bruns is a 6-4 guard at the University of South Dakota while Rosenquist Jr. is a 6-0 guard at Dakota Wesleyan University.

        Armour accomplished its state record 64-game win streak from 1978 through 1980. The Packers claimed Class B titles with matching 26-0 records in 1978 and 1979. The record holder in South Dakota prior to Armour was Arlington. The Cardinals’ run of 61 consecutive victories came from 1937 through 1939. Included was a 31-0 record in 1938.

Reach of South Dakota basketball extends far

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        Recently the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame was contacted by a memorabilia collector in Indiana. He had come across a state tournament souvenir program from 1932 and was seeking information.

        The championship game of that single-class tourney matched a pair of South Dakota’s most respected and well-remembered coaches – Joe Quintal of Mitchell and Euclid Cobb of Rapid City. Mitchell won 21-7 in a low-scoring game typical of the era. The two-day tourney was held at the Sioux Falls Coliseum. Net receipts totaled $1,249.75.

        How a program from the 1932 state tournament in South Dakota ended up in Indiana in 2023 is a question that will likely remain unanswered. But it serves as a reminder that South Dakota prep basketball extends beyond South Dakota.

        Requests continue to come in from Hall of Fame followers who ask to be added to our mailing list in order to receive our free biannual newsletters. Those now receiving copies reside in 44 states. Here are the states we mail to:

        Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Girls basketball in ’73 was preparing for takeoff

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        Fifty years ago, during the autumn of 1973, girls basketball players at some of the high schools across South Dakota were getting their first opportunity to experience the thrill of competition against teams from other schools.

        A number of schools played a scattering of games that season. Others did not. But by the following year girls basketball had gained momentum. More schools were involved statewide and more players were participating.

        There was greater organization in 1974 and many schedules were expanded. Yankton, for example, played a total of 12 games. The Gazelles went 8-4. But there was no reward yet for girls teams at the conclusion of the season. In order to join the South Dakota boys in the excitement and fun of postseason play, the girls had to wait another year.

        The first two-class girls state tournaments were held in 1975. Yankton won the Class A championship. Jefferson swept to the championship in Class B. Fans appreciated the enthusiasm and the effort of the players. And they were impressed by the potential. Girls basketball was moving steadily forward in South Dakota and it has never looked back.

Fall newsletter depicts school’s 68-year wait

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        The wait, during the old two-class system of basketball, could be so long. That helped to make qualifying for the state tournament a special experience for communities across South Dakota.

        In 1939 the Langford team shown at right battled its way to the final eight in Class B. It would take another 68 years before the Lions were able to advance to their next state tournament.

        Read about that nearly seven-decade process in the 2023 Fall Newsletter which was published by the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame and mailed to its followers on Nov. 2. It is the 19th edition of the free biannual newsletter.

        Another story examines the skill of passing. What qualities make a uniquely talented distributer of the basketball? Serving as a sidebar to that story are comments from Hall of Fame readers who were asked to tell us about the best prep passers who they have seen.

        And learn in the newsletter about the heroism of an exceptional young man, an all-around athlete who helped his high school to a state basketball title in South Dakota. He went off to war as a soldier in the U.S. Army where he was commended for his bravery in combat and for his determination to survive and to escape from an enemy prison camp.

Progression of scoring record peaked at 72

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        The state single game scoring record was established on Feb. 10, 1953, and has endured for 70 years. Argonne High School was host to the Canova Eagles that night and the performance of Arrows star Delbert Gillam (right) was historic.

        Argonne was a small farming-based community which was located about six miles to the northwest of Howard in Miner County. It is now extinct. Gillam was a 6-foot-1 senior when he exploded for 72 points as the Arrows defeated Canova 126-81.

        Gillam averaged 25.9 points per game during that season. He was inducted into the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame posthumously in 2022.

        Much has been written through the years about Gillam’s record setting effort against Canova, including a feature story about the game and about Gillam’s career that appeared in the 2016 Fall Newsletter that was published by the Hall of Fame.

        But what was the progression of the record in South Dakota prior to Gillam?

        The first documented 40-point-plus scoring effort occurred late during the 1939 season. Corona senior Harold Settje went for 47 points as the Midgets beat Summit. He converted 22 shots from the field and three free throws.

        Settje moved on to play at Luther College (Iowa). When the U.S. entered World War II he joined the Marine Corps and served in the Pacific, including the Battle of Guadalcanal. After the war Settje resumed playing basketball at Luther. He later had a career in education. The late Settje spent time as superintendent at both Veblen and Scotland.

        Darwin Headrick pushed the record to 55 points when he netted that total for Egan in a 1944 victory over White. Five years later Bob Hanson of Gayville scored 67 points as the Orioles downed Volin in 1949. The record fell again when Bob Wolff of Frederick notched 70 points in a 74-19 win over Stratford in 1952. And then came Gillam and 72.

The Hall of Fame Class of 2023

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        The South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame celebrated its Class of 2023 during the 13th annual induction banquet Saturday afternoon at the Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls. Thirteen former standouts were honored and they bring total membership in the Hall of Fame to 198 of the greatest prep players ever to perform in South Dakota.

        Pictured above at the banquet, from left, front row, are Chad Boekelheide, Jeana (Hoffman) Krome, Paige Paulsen, Jenna (Hoffman) Kubesh and Scott Boekelheide. Back row, Jordan (Stapp) Proefrock, Louie Krogman, Brenda (Davis) Comstock, Dodie Bemis representing the late Harry Marske, Spencer Paulsen representing the late Derek Paulsen, Dan Freidel and Eric Lappe. Also inducted was the late Arnold Johnson. (John Simko Photo)

        Plaques commemorating members of the Class of 2023 will be displayed in the Hall of Fame area which is located on the main floor of the Sanford Pentagon. Bios profiling all Hall of Fame members can be found on this website.

        Members of the selection committee will meet soon to begin the important process of evaluating the nominations of potential inductees. Those who are selected for induction in the Class of 2024 will be announced in May. To see a list of the selection criteria, and to download an official nomination form, click on Nomination Form on this website.

Plan to join us during Hall of Fame Weekend

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        Membership in the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame will expand to 198 during a ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 26. The 13th annual induction banquet will be at the Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls. Tickets cost $35. Children 10 and younger are $10.

        To be inducted are Chad Boekelheide, Scott Boekelheide, Brenda (Davis) Comstock, Dan Freidel, Louie Krogman, Jeana (Hoffman) Krome, Jenna (Hoffman) Kubesh, Eric Lappe, Paige Paulsen and Jordan (Stapp) Proefrock. Inducted posthumously will be Arnold Johnson, Harry Marske and Derek Paulsen. Recognized as a Team of Excellence during the banquet will be the Miller Rustlers of 1972 who were coached by Bob Dockter and finished 24-0.

        Tickets include a souvenir booklet (shown at right) as well as the induction program and a catered meal. Order via the PayPal option on the lower right-hand portion of this website or by sending a check to SDBBHOF, 2210 W. Pentagon Place, Sioux Falls, SD 57107. All tickets will be held for pickup at the Will-Call Table at the banquet.

        Memorabilia exhibits charting the careers of members of the Class of 2023 will be on display. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. and Hall of Fame apparel and mementos will be available for purchase. Raffle tickets will be sold with the winner receiving one men’s or women’s Hall of Fame ring valued at $300. The induction program begins at 1 p.m. with the meal to follow. When arriving please use the east parking lot and entrance. Tickets will also be available at the door for $40 and $15.

        Another highlight of Hall of Fame Weekend is an informal reception for the inductees from 4-6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 25, at the Ramkota. The reception is free and dress is casual. Refreshments will be provided. Members of the Class of 2023 will be present and the public is encouraged to attend. Also on hand will be many Hall of Fame members inducted during previous years. Hall of Fame tours at the Sanford Pentagon will be available per request from 1-4 p.m. For more information contact SDBBHOF executive assistant Mary Pennington at mepcpa@hotmail.com or 970-946-2605.

Hall of Fame salutes the ’72 Miller Rustlers

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        Fans who were fortunate to be in attendance at the State Class A Tournament in 1972 understood that they were watching a special team when Miller High School was on the court. The Rustlers put on a dazzling three-game display of basketball that still resonates today in the memories of those who were on hand at the Sioux Falls Arena.

        With an enrollment of 375 students Miller was the smallest of the 32 schools in Class A. The Rustlers were coached by Bob Dockter and had the ability to demoralize opponents with a tireless full-court press and quick-strike fast break.

        Kim Templeton, Rick Nissen and Jeff Wilber led the Rustlers as they defeated Sioux Falls Washington, Rapid City Stevens and Yankton. That settled Miller’s record at 24-0. In recognition of their memorable season the 1972 Rustlers are being recognized by the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame as its Team of Excellence for 2023.

        The Rustlers will be honored during the 13th annual Hall of Fame induction banquet which will be held on Aug. 26 at the Ramkota Hotel in northwest Sioux Falls. Miller team members pictured with the kneeling Dockter in the submitted photo above were, from left, manager Chuck Peterson, Steve Henning, Tim Herman, Wilber, John Carr, Steve DeGeest, Gary Recek, Mike Alley, Kerm Peterson, Nissen, Mike Losey, Dan Gerdes, Templeton and manager Terry Augspurger.

Begeman to lead Hall of Fame into future

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        Members of the board of directors of the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame met at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls on June 14 and unanimously voted to elect Mike Begeman (right) to serve as the new president of the organization.

        Begeman is a native of Parker and a graduate of Augustana University. He replaces Bob Swanhorst, who had been president of the Hall of Fame since Jan. 24, 2014.

        Swanhorst informed the board of directors several months ago of his intention to step down as president in June. He was asked to remain a member of the board.

        “Bob has provided exemplary leadership during the past 10 years and we are grateful for his many contributions. We are very pleased that he has agreed to remain on our board of directors,” says Hall of Fame executive director Dave Wagner.

        “We are extremely confident that under Mike’s leadership the Hall of Fame is well positioned to continue its progress and to fulfill its mission far into the future.”

        Begeman has been a member of the board of directors for the past nine years. He spent time as the organization’s treasurer and then later became vice president. As president Begeman will preside over an evolving board of directors that is responsible for formulating policy and for making decisions that involve the direction of the Hall of Fame.

        Forty-two different people have served on the board at various times. Currently there are 15 members.