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Championships in ’20 create memories of SDIC

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     For 83 years, from the time it was first chartered in 1917 until it was disbanded in 2000, the South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference was an NAIA fixture and an important part of the sports landscape in our state.

     The recent 2020 basketball season was especially successful for some former SDIC members as four NCAA Division II regular-season titles were earned. Champions were the Black Hills State University men, the Northern State University men and the University of Sioux Falls men and women. The combined rosters of those teams included 11 players who prepped in South Dakota.

     Black Hills State, which compiled an overall record of 20-9, shared the Rocky Mountain Conference championship with Dixie State (Utah). Both were 17-5 in the league. Northern State won the North Division of the Northern Sun Conference. The Wolves fashioned records of 18-4 in the league and 26-6 overall. USF took both titles in the South Division of the Northern Sun. The Cougar men were 17-5 and 22-8 while the women had records of 17-5 and 26-6.

Newsletter features Native American theme

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     Throughout the history of basketball in our state – since the sport was first introduced in South Dakota at a summer conference at Big Stone Lake in 1896 – Native American players and teams have excelled with style and with flair.

     The talent of standouts such as Louis Tyon (right) earned the respect and admiration of fans across the state. Tyon led the Pine Ridge Thorpes to the Class B state championship in 1962 and then to a runner-up finish in 1963. He was chosen first team all-state both seasons.

     The South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame has published its 2020 Spring Newsletter. Among featured stories are several which recognize the many important contributions to South Dakota basketball made through the years by Native Americans.

     Our 12th biannual newsletter was mailed free on April 23 to the over 1,200 current subscribers who follow the Hall of Fame from 40 states. We publish both spring and fall editions. To read past issues go to Newsletter Archives on the right-hand side of this website.

Coronavirus causes change in banquet plans

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     Out of respect for the ongoing health issues associated with the coronavirus pandemic, the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame has suspended plans to hold its induction banquet on March 28.

     “Our primary concern is for the wellbeing and safety of our inductees and their families and friends. As deeply as we regret the need to postpone the banquet, we are convinced this is the proper decision in the interest of public health,” said Executive Director Dave Wagner. “South Dakota’s proud basketball heritage is celebrated each year at our banquet. The former greats who were to be honored this year will now be inducted at the banquet on March 27, 2021.”

     Included are Janel Birrenkott, Jerry Even, Jayne (Even) Gust, Austin Hansen, Joe Krabbenhoft, Sarah Mannes Homstad, Arlo Mogck, Bob Pidde, Dave Thomas and Dennis Womeldorf. To be inducted posthumously are Sam Perrin, Loren Thornton and Stanton Uhlir. Recognized as a Team of Excellence will be the Washington Warriors of 1980.

     Ticket purchasers who want to leave their reservations intact for the 2021 banquet do not have to do anything. Those who prefer a refund should contact Mary Pennington at mepcpa@hotmail.com or 605-271-9967.

Hall of Fame salutes ’80 Washington Warriors

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     On the night of Nov. 7, 1980, the two teams that would go on to win South Dakota girls basketball titles later that season met in a highly anticipated regular-season game. Sioux Falls Washington won 88-78, snapping Jefferson’s record 67-game winning streak. A month later the Warriors earned the Class A championship and Jefferson reigned in Class B.

     Washington was coached by the late Joe Lockwood and finished 23-0 after defeating Canton 52-45 in the championship game of the state tournament. The Warriors were paced by first team all-state players Ann Pancoast and JoElle Byre and by third team selection Lisa Sorenson. Because of their exceptional accomplishments the Warriors are being honored by the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame as a Team of Excellence.

     The Warriors will be recognized at the 11th annual banquet on March 27, 2021, at the Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls.

     Washington’s varsity was, standing, from left, Chris Ensberg, Coach Lockwood, Kari Soyland, Pancoast, Sorenson, Byre, Lori Tweedt, Patti Clausen, Karla Modica, Toni Engelson, Assistant Coach Curt Ericson and Lori Burkman. Not pictured are Ann Waag and manager Lisa Hippen. Junior varsity, kneeling, from left, Carol Swenson, Michelle Miller, Cathy Cunningham, Shelly Fauth, Vicky Elliott, Michelle Grotjohn, Ronita Neels and Susan Orr. (Submitted Photo)

Converse collection gifted to Hall of Fame

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     A compilation of vast basketball information, the Converse Basketball Yearbook was published from 1922 through 1983. Each edition provided unmatched analysis of the previous season. No segment of the sport was left out as the yearbook covered basketball on the high school, college, professional and international levels.

     Team pictures of state prep championship teams from across the country were a staple. So were college conference breakdowns and a list of the nation’s top collegiate scorers, combining all NCAA divisions with the NAIA.

     In the 1967 edition, for example, future NBA star Earl Monroe of Winston-Salem (N.C.) State University was listed as the top college scorer at 41.5 points per game. Other leaders included Lew Alcindor of UCLA at 29.0 and Elvin Hayes of the University of Houston at 28.4. Also in the rankings were Jack Theeler of Sisseton and the NCAA Division II University of South Dakota at 26.4 and Jim Schlekeway of Britton and NAIA Northern State University at 26.0.

     The Converse Basketball Yearbook collection of the late Argus Leader sports editor and columnist John Egan has been gifted to the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame. Included are the 24 editions of the yearbook ranging from 1955 through 1978. The Egan collection has been inventoried and is available for inspection along with other historical publications in the Hall of Fame room 2110 located on the second floor of the Sanford Pentagon.

Iconic Rapid City Central coach dies at 88

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     One of South Dakota’s true coaching legends, Dave Strain, died Jan. 2 in Rapid City. He was 88. Strain led the perennially successful Rapid City Central boys basketball program for 24 seasons. He guided the Cobblers to 18 state tournaments from 1963 through 1986.

     Strain’s memorable 1969 team was voted by a panel of experts assembled by the Argus Leader in 1988 as the fifth greatest team in state history. That season the Cobblers won the Class A state championship and featured standouts John Dutton, Jack Tennyson, Steve Withorne and Rich Gerry, all who were named all-state during their careers.

     A product of White River, where he starred as the Tigers reached the Class B state tournament in 1949, Strain played collegiately at South Dakota State University. He then coached for three years at Deadwood before moving to Rapid City Central.

     Strain won 398 games during his career as a head coach and he made an important impact as an influential mentor to many Native American athletes at Rapid City Central.

Hall of Fame to induct 13 former greats

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        Two highly regarded coaches who helped their teams reach the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2019 are among 13 former standouts selected in the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame’s next induction class.

        Joe Krabbenhoft starred at Sioux Falls Roosevelt. He then was a standout at the University of Wisconsin (shown at left during his Badgers career in a photo courtesy of UW). Krabbenhoft is now an assistant coach at Wisconsin of the Big Ten Conference. The Badgers had a 21-10 record in 2020.

        Austin Hansen (right) led Brandon Valley to the 1998 Class AA state championship and then went on to star at South Dakota State University. Now a Utah State University assistant coach, Hansen and the Aggies recorded a 26-8 record in 2020. Utah State is a member of the Mountain West Conference.

        Sioux Falls Washington’s unbeaten girls team of 1980 was selected to be honored as a Team of Excellence. The late Joe Lockwood coached the Warriors, who were 23-0 and led by Hall of Fame members Ann Pancoast and JoElle Byre, to the Class A state championship.

        Here is a look at those selected. They will be inducted at the 11th annual banquet on March 27, 2021:

Janel Birrenkott, Frederick, Md. (Lemmon 1982): After excelling at Lemmon, where she averaged 25 points per game as a senior, Birrenkott scored 1,352 career points at Northern State University. She led the Northern Sun Conference in scoring with 20 points per game in 1986. Birrenkott represented the United States in the Deaf Olympics.

Jerry Even, Sioux Falls (Dell Rapids St. Mary’s 1964): Even averaged 21 points per game during the 13 career games he played in State Catholic Tournaments. He was a four-year starter for St. Mary’s, netting 26 points and grabbing 14 rebounds per game in his senior season. Even surpassed 2,000 points during his career, totaling 2,032.

Jayne (Even) Gust, Fargo, N.D. (O’Gorman 1996): A four-year varsity performer, Gust led O’Gorman to the Class AA state title in 1995 when she averaged 21 points per game. She scored 1,228 career points for the Knights. Gust was an NCAA Division II All-American at North Dakota State University. She joins her father, Jerry Even, in the Class of 2020.

Austin Hansen, River Heights, Utah (Brandon Valley 1998): While winning its first Class AA state title in 1998, Brandon Valley got 18 points and six assists per game from Hansen. He was co-Mr. Basketball that season and went on to earn all-North Central Conference honors three times while scoring 1,815 career points at South Dakota State.

Joe Krabbenhoft, Waunakee, Wis. (Roosevelt 2005): All-state three years, Krabbenhoft had 911 points and 544 rebounds at Roosevelt. He had a decorated career at Wisconsin. Krabbenhoft played in 136 games and totaled 827 points, 756 rebounds and 273 assists. He played several years professionally, including with the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Sarah Mannes Homstad, Yankton (Yankton 1988): Mannes Homstad sparked Yankton to a pair of Class AA state titles and a combined 45-1 record in 1986 and 1987. She totaled 913 career points and set a Gazelles career record by shooting 55 percent from the field. Mannes Homstad played in four NCAA Tournaments while at Vanderbilt University.

Arlo Mogck, Worthington, Minn. (Parkston 1955): Parkston was a very small school by Class A standards and Mogck led the Trojans to a runner-up finish in the 1954 state tournament. He had 1,259 career points. Mogck excelled at Southern State College where he was chosen to the all-South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference team four years.

Sam Perrin (Huron 1927): The late Perrin captained Huron to the one-class state title in 1927. Huron then took fourth place in the 43-team National Interscholastic Tournament in Chicago. Perrin was a Midwest Conference scoring champion when he averaged 18 points per game as a senior at Carleton (Minn.) College in 1931.

Bob Pidde, Freeman (Freeman 1975): Freeman finished 27-0 in 1975 behind the leadership of Pidde. He averaged 17 points and 16 rebounds per game as the Flyers won the Class B state title. Pidde scored 23 points in the finals as Freeman topped previously unbeaten Dell Rapids St. Mary’s 61-55. He then played at South Dakota State.

Dave Thomas, Sioux Falls (Onida 1969): Thomas averaged 22 points per game as Class B state champion Onida had a 28-0 record in 1969. While at South Dakota State he scored 1,355 career points, was named to the all-NCC team twice and was league MVP in 1973. Thomas helped the Jackrabbits to two NCC championships.

Loren Thornton (Harrisburg 1936): The late Thornton led Harrisburg to its first-ever state tournament in 1936. The eventual champion, Oglala, edged the Tigers 36-33 in the semifinals. Thornton was chosen as the tourney’s MVP. Known as “Dutch,” he played collegiately at South Dakota State, helping the Jackrabbits to the NCC title in 1940.

Stanton Uhlir (Kadoka 1951): The late Uhlir put on an unprecedented scoring display in the State Class B Tournament in 1951. He notched 50 points in a consolation game and totaled 92 for the tourney. Uhlir had 2,023 career points for Kadoka. Also a talented lineman, he helped South Dakota State win NCC football titles in 1953 and 1954.

Dennis Womeldorf, Rapid City (Wessington Springs 1966): Known for his defensive tenacity, Womeldorf was also an outstanding scorer. His career total at Wessington Springs was 1,521 points. Womeldorf helped South Dakota State to three NCC championships. He scored 1,006 points during his career for the Jackrabbits and was league MVP in 1970.

Fall Newsletter revisits legends of the past

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     South Dakota once had an athlete so uniquely gifted that after leading his high school to a state basketball championship he became a two-sport standout in college and then a star on the national sports stage.

     Read about him and the recognition his accomplishments brought to his home state in the 2019 Fall Newsletter published by the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame and sent on Nov. 12 to those on our mailing list.

     Also in the 11th edition of our newsletter is a look at a proud South Dakota conference which for many decades embraced the ideals of competition and fellowship while it was providing opportunity for thousands of athletes.

     Another interesting story examines a team that traveled to Chicago to promote South Dakota basketball when the game was young. Our newsletter is produced twice yearly, in the spring and the fall. It is distributed free.

Peace was ultimate goal during season of ’45

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     The upcoming 2020 basketball season will mark the 75th anniversary of the last South Dakota state high school tournaments which were contested amidst the horrific specter of World War II.

     United States forces fighting with the Allies in Europe and the Pacific in 1945 included South Dakota soldiers from virtually every community in the state. Many had been high school players before their military service. With continual prayers for their safety, and for peace, prep sports did its part in the crucial effort to sustain morale on the home front.

     State championships were won in March of 1945 by Huron and Madison. Huron defeated Aberdeen Central 36-29 in the Class A finals behind standouts Bob Groves and John Jacobson. Madison got outstanding performances from Cal Mathison and Bob Aga while edging Webster 30-28 for the Class B title. At that time South Dakota also had a Catholic state tournament. Sioux Falls Cathedral won the 1945 championship over Madison St. Thomas 41-36.

     Within the next six months, after the surrender of Germany and then of Japan, the war was finally over.

Highly rated preps have ties to South Dakota

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      Entering his senior year Dawson Garcia is one of the nation’s most heavily recruited basketball players. Last season he averaged 27.5 points and 11 rebounds per game for Prior Lake High School in Savage, Minn.
     A 6-foot-11, 220-pound power forward, Garcia is pictured in the submitted photo at right. His parents are Dave and Stacey Garcia.
     Garcia’s mother, as the former Stacey Nelson, helped Milbank win the South Dakota girls Class A state championship in 1987. She then went on to play collegiate basketball at Black Hills State University.
     Garcia’s father played basketball and was also a record-setting quarterback in football at Black Hills State. He is a product of Anton, Colo., and is a member of the Yellow Jacket Athletic Hall of Fame.
     In the rankings of the 247Sports recruiting website, Garcia is the No. 32 prospect in the Class of 2020. Last season he led Prior Lake to a 27-4 record while shooting 61 percent from the field, 82 percent on free throws and 44 percent on 3-pointers. He has been offered scholarships by Kansas, North Carolina and Minnesota among other schools.
     Another Top 100 player with area connections, Mason Miller, is rated as the No. 85 prospect in the Class of 2021 by 247Sports. The 6-9 forward will be a junior at Houston High School in Germantown, Tenn. He is the son of former Mitchell, University of Florida and NBA star Mike Miller.