MADISON ‘BULLDOGS’ – 1965
South Dakota doesn’t often see a boys basketball player in its big-school class who starts for four years and makes all-state for three. Tom was a member of that elite fraternity.
Madison was a Class A school while Tom played during the two-class era. The Bulldogs competed against larger schools in the Eastern South Dakota Conference. That created a challenge that Tom took to heart.
Tom broke into the starting lineup as a freshman and for four seasons he impressed opponents with his ball-handling and passing skills. During his final three seasons playing for Cal Mathison he ranked among the top scorers in the conference. Tom’s leadership helped keep the Bulldogs competitive in the ESD. He was rewarded by being named to the all-state team in 1963, 1964 and 1965.
Averaging 18 points a game during his final two seasons, Tom, who also played football, surpassed the 1,000-point barrier for his career. As a senior, on a team with limited experience, the 5-foot-11 guard led the Bulldogs past Brookings in an opening game of the section tournament. Madison then nearly accomplished an upset in the finals when the Bulldogs battled to the wire before falling to eventual state champion Sioux Falls Washington.
Tom remained in Madison to play collegiately. He was a four-year performer for Ed Harter at General Beadle State Teacher’s College, now Dakota State University. Tom helped the Trojans to 20 victories, most in school history, when he was a sophomore in 1967. General Beadle State was champion of the South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference that year.
Two years later, as a senior, Tom was chosen to the all-SDIC team. He was inducted into the DSU Hall of Fame.
Tom lives in Dawsonville, Ga. He has one child: Tommy. The South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame is proud to induct Tom as a member of its Class of 2012.
Ada Orton Caffee
So very proud to call you my Brother. Congratulations for all you have accomplished.
I always enjoyed being entertained by #24. You were my chidhood hero Tom. You are so deserving.
Tom. congratulations. I remember my frosh year, coming from Sisseton. Myron and Simon took care of Dennis Bladow and I. Other than great play on the court you were a pretty good card player at the back of the bus. Ed’s cigar smell, It was great times. Take care Hall of Fame inductee.
Congrats to a phenomenal player. I was always proud to say I was on Tom Orton”s team (Madison Bulldogs). Great memories
There was no one better when it came to playing the game of basketball… Possessing amazing skills with a basketball, you entertained a community for many years and your accomplishments are still talked about by those who were fortunate enough to experience you in action… Your personality and unique shooting style has been forever imbedded in our memories and it is and always has been a joy reminiscing with friends about those days long past…
Truly an honor well deserved… It was also truly a pleasure getting a chance to visit, even if only briefly, after over 40 years since our last visit… Hell, if you remember, I didn’t even recognize you until we shook hands and you said a few words… My nickname has been “Lucky” for over 30 years and our “by chance” meeting was just another indication that I have the right name “Lucky Lenny”… I can still
remember what you stated/signed in my Sophomore Year Annual Yearbook and I took it to heart… It went something like “If you are half as Good as I am, you will be Great”… Your words were an inspiration and gave me motivation on the basketball court, as well as in life, and I thank you for that…
The very Best to you and your Son Tommy… I hope/trust our paths will cross again one day…
Mona Taylor. It has been years since I last talked to you. I hope you you are doing well. Happy Holidays to you and Yours.