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 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.

Leadership vital to future of Hall of Fame

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     The South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame looks forward to 2020 and the start of its second decade of existence. An evolving board of directors fulfills an essential role in the operation of the Hall of Fame. The board is responsible for establishing policy and providing the direction that has allowed the Hall of Fame to grow and prosper.

     Thirty-seven people have served on the board since the Hall of Fame was chartered in 2009. They have come from as far west as Rapid City, as far north as Aberdeen and as far south as Yankton. Hall of Fame bylaws stipulate that the board shall be comprised of no more than 16 members at any given time. That is the number currently serving.

     The Hall of Fame wishes to compile a list of potential candidates to fill any future vacancies on the board that may occur. To be considered you should have an interest in and an understanding of South Dakota basketball history and a willingness to be available to attend quarterly board meetings in Sioux Falls and other select Hall of Fame activities.

     If interested in being considered as a possible future Hall of Fame board member please click on Contact at the top of this website. List your name and email address. Then provide a brief description of your interest and your basketball background. When finished hit Submit Comment. Your information will remain confidential and will not be published.

Show your pride with a hall of fame ring

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         The South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame has teamed with the Jostens Co. to create an elegant ring which commemorates membership in our elite Hall of Fame family. The ring is shown above.

     Features on each ring include the person’s last name and the year they were inducted, along with an insignia of the Sanford Pentagon, which serves as the home of the Hall of Fame. A replica of the Hall of Fame logo is crafted on the side of the ring while the top stone includes a basketball symbol surrounded by the words ‘South Dakota Hall of Fame’. The person’s full name will be engraved on the inside band of the ring.

     Any member of the Hall of Fame will be proud to own and wear such a meaningful reminder of the day they were inducted. Each ring is meticulously constructed of beautiful, enduring white metal and costs $289.54 including tax.

     Hall of Fame members and their families and friends can order a ring by simply mailing the name to be inscribed, the year inducted, choice of birthstone color, and the desired ring size to SDBBHOF, 2210 W. Pentagon Place, Sioux Falls, SD 57107. The purchaser should include his or her name, mailing address, email address if applicable, and telephone number. Payment can be made via check or by using the PayPal option located on the right side of this website.

     Enshrinement in the Hall of Fame is a great honor. This ring will be a reminder and will become a cherished keepsake.

Return to the 50’s with spring newsletter

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     If you ever find yourself in central Sanborn County, and you feel the urge to shoot some hoops, rest assured that a sturdy cottonwood tree in the town of Forestburg is waiting. In 1950 a 10-year-old boy who loved basketball found a wooden bushel basket that had a metal rim. He nailed it to that tree near his home just a couple blocks northeast of the school. There he and his friends spent countless hours through the following years mastering their shooting skills.

     Nearly 70 years have passed and that tree still stands and the rim is still attached, testimony about a simpler time. Read about life and about basketball in small-town South Dakota during the 50s in the 2019 Spring Newsletter published by the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame.

     Our free newsletters are produced twice yearly, in the spring and the fall, with more than 1,100 readers from 34 different states on our mailing list. The 10th edition of the newsletter was mailed May 6. Among other interesting stories is a study of the different methods embraced by South Dakota and its neighboring states in crowning state champions. And a story about a proving ground where South Dakota’s best players gathered to test one another.

The Hall of Fame Class of 2019

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The Class of 2019, from left, front, Alan Nissen, Lindsay Thomas, Megan Mahoney, Henry Park Jr., Scott Beckstrand, Brittany (Knife) Brewer representing the late Freddie Knife and Dave Fischer. Back, Jodi (Pipes) Altenburg, Shannon (Schlagel) Huber, Doug Peterson, Mike Begeman, Kent Furois representing the late Rollie Furois, Cregg Skarin and Joe Walseth representing the late Sox Walseth. Also inducted was the late Lefty Engebritson. (John Simko Photo)

     The South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame held its 10th annual induction ceremony and banquet March 23 at the Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls. Welcomed into the Hall of Fame before a large and appreciative audience were 15 new members, all elite former players whose impressive credentials rank them among the state’s all-time best.

     Plaques recognizing the Class of 2019 will be displayed in the Hall of Fame area of the Sanford Pentagon.

     Members who will comprise the Class of 2020 will be selected during upcoming months and then announced next winter. The Hall of Fame’s board of directors will soon begin the important process of evaluating nominees. To see a list of the selection criteria, and to download an official nomination form, simply click on Nomination Form on this website.