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In addition to warmer, longer days, one of the surest signs of spring in South Dakota is the annual state basketball tournaments. This year, young men and women from across South Dakota will compete for the AA, A, and B division crowns, an accomplishment that will be a lasting memory and bring considerable pride to their communities. I wish all of the young athletes participating in this year’s tournament the very best of luck.

In February, South Dakotans received an announcement that is at once about the game of basketball and also about so much more: Northern State University men’s basketball coach Don Meyer announced his retirement from coaching. Coach Meyer will walk away from the game with the most men’s wins in NCAA history, but more importantly he will be able to look back on a career defined by inspiring young men and pushing them to new levels of excellence, both on and off the court. I join all South Dakotans in congratulating my friend on a great career and wishing him all the best in his future endeavors.

In March, the new South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame in Madison will induct its inaugural class of men and women who have excelled in the sport. While congratulations are in order for all of the nominees, I am proud to applaud my father, Harold Thune, for representing the 1930’s in the inaugural class. This a special honor for all 19 inductees, who set a high standard for all of the athletes playing basketball in the state today.

Basketball promotes teamwork and leadership, and in many communities in South Dakota high school basketball becomes the center of attention during the winter. I hope that all of the participants in this year’s tournaments take time to enjoy the experience, and I know that fans from across the state will be treated to exciting competition. Again, good luck to all participants in this year’s tournaments, and I look forward to seeing many South Dakotans at the games.