Senator John ThuneThe regular season of South Dakota high school basketball has wrapped up and district and regional games have commenced across the state. Over the next few weeks, the girls and boys state basketball tournaments will begin for the teams who earn those few coveted spots on the bracket.
In high school, I spent many cold winter months dreaming of playing in the State "B" basketball tournament. The State "Bs" were a tradition in our house. The tournament started in 1936 when South Dakota schools were divided into two classes based on school size. Jones County High School, then called Murdo High School, was smaller and fell into class "B." The next year, my father Harold had the opportunity to play in the tournament. His team ended their run with a close loss in the championship game to Doland. In 1962, my brother Bob played on the Murdo team in the State "B" in Sioux Falls, losing in the first round to Pine Ridge, which went on to win the tournament.
The road to the state tournaments is paved with exciting triumphs, and unfortunate defeats. Often, the months of hard work at practice pay off in huge dividends and other times the shots just do not drop like they should.
One memory that will stick with me throughout my life comes from the district tournament my senior year. In the first round of districts, we defeated White River in a very close, come from behind victory. We then faced our rival, Lyman County, in the district championship. It was another hard fought game, but in the end we lost by one point, 50-49. With that heartbreaking defeat, my hopes of playing in the State "B" tournament ended.
Through all these experiences, our young athletes learn essential life lessons. Teamwork, persistence, leadership, and sportsmanship are just a few of the values on display on the court. It is no coincidence that these same values define our state.
For all of our players who are graduating this spring, I hope you truly take in your remaining high school games and enjoy every moment with your teammates, coaches, and fans. I wish all players and coaches a safe and successful end to the season.