Those who had the pleasure of watching Vince Whipple play were impressed by the basketball instincts the 5-foot-10 guard showcased on the court.
Rapid City reached the championship game of the Class A state tournament in 1956 but fell just short against Sioux Falls Washington 55-53. In a dramatic finish, Whipple’s desperation shot from midcourt rimmed out as the final horn sounded.
A member of the media who covered the tourney had such respect for the all-state Whipple that he wrote: “He’s not only the best shooter, but also the finest feeder. His deft passing has delighted the crowd throughout the tournament. He made passes the likes of which haven’t been seen.”
Whipple scored a record 36 points for Coach Bill Mitchell in the semifinals against Belle Fourche and went on to a tournament record 79 total points. He averaged 18.0 points per game as the Cobblers went 22-3. But it was his ability to handle the ball, his astute decision-making under pressure, and his lightning-quick defense that most stood out.
Whipple was a three-year basketball letterman at Rapid City. He also made a mark as a football quarterback, a distance runner and pole vaulter in track, and a good-fielding .333 hitter in American Legion baseball.
Enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduation, Whipple continued to refine his game while playing service basketball.
Whipple was a four-year starter at Huron College following his military commitment. His coach was Don Mohlenhoff and Whipple averaged 14 points per game as a senior.
Now retired, Whipple served capably for many years as a coach, teacher and school counselor. The cross country team he coached at St. Francis in 1969 won the Class B state championship.
Whipple lives in Porcupine. Children are Robert, Elizabeth, Vincent Jr. and Tom.
Doug Popham RCHS '59
The greatest basketball player to come out of RCHS. I watched Vince play for all his high school years plus the ’56 tournment. I can only say it was a long time in coming.
Donald (Buck) Shounder
I served with Vince and Gene A. Carpenter in the USMC at Camp Lejeune and later attended Huron College with Vince and Gene. Vince was responsible for bringing two Pennsylvania boys out to the SD prairie to go to college. I played against Vince in the USMC and with him at Huron. He was a great player and I admired him for his leadership and athletic ability. I’d very much like to get in touch with him again.
I know Vince from high school … his shooting high arc and smooth as silk. Excitement on the court, always a pleasure watching him play. Vince helped the 3rd Marine Division bring home a coveted Tory Gate trophy playing in Japan. Yay, Vince!