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Basketball trailblazer Thune dies at age 100

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     One of South Dakota’s most respected and admired basketball trailblazers, Harold Thune, died Aug. 15, 2020. He had reached the age of 100.

     Thune was a 1937 graduate of Murdo High School. As a senior he led the Coyotes to the school’s first-ever State Class B Tournament. Murdo took second place. The Coyotes defeated Bridgewater and Redfield before falling in the championship game to Doland 32-27. Thune was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

     A member of the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame’s inaugural Class of 2010, he was also inducted into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame.

     During his collegiate career Thune was a standout in the Big Ten Conference at the University of Minnesota. He then served as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot in World War II.

     Thune, the father of U.S. Senator John Thune, spent many years in his hometown of Murdo as a businessman and educator. He recently resided in Central City, Neb.

Names of Wood, Cobb still resonate in S.D.

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     During the early stages of high school athletics in South Dakota, two visionary coaches, one in East River and the other in West River, emerged as examples of how to build and sustain premier programs.

     Howard Wood was born in Canada and graduated from Potsdam Normal College (N.Y.). He arrived at Sioux Falls Washington in 1908. Wood coached the Warriors to four state basketball championships and had a career record of 430-141. In football his teams won 17 state titles and went 246-74-16. In track Wood guided SFW to 16 state championships.

     Euclid Cobb was born in Texas and earned a degree from Monmouth College (Ill.). He took over as coach at what would become Rapid City Central in 1920. Cobb’s team won a state basketball title in 1942. In football he had a career record of 144-43-13 while posting seven undefeated seasons: 1922, 1923, 1925, 1927, 1931, 1932 and 1943.

     Wood spent 39 years at Washington and died in 1949. A prominent Sioux Falls stadium, Howard Wood Field, was named in his memory. Cobb died in 1986. The school he served for 41 years gave him the ultimate compliment when in 1934 it used his surname to change its mascot from the Tigers. Since then Central’s teams have been the Cobblers.

Krogman, Young headline 2,000-point clubs

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     Don Jacobsen graduated from Lake Norden High School in 1957 after scoring 2,825 points for the Bluejays. That total reigned as the South Dakota boys career record for 50 years.

     Until Dec. 20, 2007. That night White River star Louie Krogman moved past Jacobsen in a Lakota Nation Invitational game at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City.

     Krogman (pictured at left in a University of South Dakota photo during his college career) concluded his White River prep career in 2008 with 3,521 points. He leads the list of 42 documented boys who have surpassed the 2,000-point plateau in state history. Jill Young (pictured at right) of Mitchell Christian graduated in 2007 with 3,317 points and leads the 28 girls in the state who have reached 2,000. Young later played at South Dakota State University. Click on ‘Records’ at the top of this website to see both complete lists.

     The first player to reach 2,000 points in South Dakota was Stanton Uhlir in 1951. He notched 2,023 for Kadoka. Nine more boys players surpassed the milestone before the decade of the 1950s came to an end: Jacobsen, Milt Sorenson, Bob Swanhorst, LaMoine Torgerson, Jerry Wingen, Dale Hall, Terry Slattery, Cliff Albee and Phil Miedema. Among girls in the state Robin Anderson of Clear Lake was the first to surpass 2,000. She totaled 2,332 points before graduating in 1980.

40 years ago: loss in OT ended 64-game streak

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     The 1980 Freeman Classic produced one of the most iconic games in the history of high school basketball in South Dakota. A crowd of 7,100 had turned out at the Sioux Falls Arena to watch the Armour Packers attempt to extend their state-record boys winning streak in a marquee matchup against the highly regarded Beresford Watchdogs.

     The Packers of Coach Burnell Glanzer had won 64 consecutive games, in the process claiming Class B state championships in 1978 and 1979. They had broken the record of 61 straight wins set by Arlington in the 1930s.

     Armour was led by a pair of all-state players, 5-foot-11 senior Dan Freidel and 6-2 junior Jeff Tiefenthaler. The Packers were without senior standout Dennis Tiefenthaler, who was sidelined by an injury sustained in football.

     Beresford was built around 6-4 junior all-stater Keith Larson and was coached by Jim Sorenson.

     Through four quarters the teams battled on even terms. Then with only two seconds left in overtime Beresford senior Brian Rick hit a dramatic 20-foot shot to give the Watchdogs a 47-45 victory. The record streak was over.

Championships in ’20 create memories of SDIC

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     From the time it was first chartered in 1917 until it was disbanded in 2000, the South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference for 83 years 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 standout players such as Louis Tyon (right) earned the respect 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 970-946-2605.

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 Aug. 28, 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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     Among South Dakota’s true coaching legends, Dave Strain died Jan. 2, 2020, 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 1963-86.

     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.