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Steve Matthies

Steve Matthies

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Ask around in South Dakota and people will tell you that the state’s high school athletic/activities association (like most others) faces some serious issues related to basketball.

The biggest conundrum to be solved is low-scoring boys basketball games.

The other is the nasty disparity among teams in the three classes used by the state.

According to some of the people I’ve spoken with, low-scoring games tend to take place with the state’s larger schools. Scores of 35-27 are not that rare. It is the girls in the smaller schools who get up-and-down the court more often, putting up bigger numbers.

The solution being suggested to boost scoring in high school basketball is a shot clock.

That is something Oregonians might want to watch.

Instincts are that California schools, regardless of size, have no desire to eliminate the shot clock from their games.

Lopsided scores are an issue in all states, and always will be. Because of location, a lot of schools have to participate in athletics with the individuals available, which often leads to weird scores.

When a small school has a standout – think Kendra Murphy at North Lake, Colleen Withers when she was at Paisley, the Ovgard brothers at Triad, just as examples – those teams likely will both score well and win often.

When those players are unavailable, well … lopsided scores will happen despite the efforts of coaches to keep games under control.

South Dakota is looking to a pair of solutions, a couple of people said. One is a running clock. The other is eliminating the full-court press by the leading team when scores reach a certain point.

Almost every state uses a running clock in football when scores reach a certain point. It tends to work.

Eliminating the full-court press carries with it potential unforeseen issues.

What happens if a game gets out of control, but the winning team begins to play its lesser-used players, those who will be expected to play in coming seasons? Is that fair to those players who get little actual court time?

All certainly are concepts to think about.


The Sanford Pentagon is a great venue for basketball, and players appear to like the court better than the one used when the NAIA Division II men’s national basketball tournament was played at the College of the Ozarks.

Not all, but many.

One part of the Pentagon many people miss is the failure to take time to walk around the outside of Heritage Court where a really good history of South Dakota basketball is well displayed.

The members of the South Dakota high school basketball Hall of Fame dominate much of the displays, but there is plenty of homage to the college game and many of the players and coaches who have been part of the game for decades.

There are jerseys, letter jackets, game programs and other memorabilia, including a list of schools which no longer exist, among them schools like Yankton College (where Lyle Alzado played football), or the University of South Dakota Springfield (former Henley baseball coach Dale Hauck’s alma mater).

A lot of high schools are on the list, too, some with interesting nicknames – the Quinn Quintuplets, Vale Beetdiggers and St. Agatha Agates. The top nickname no longer is used in South Dakota – the Monroe Wooden Shoed Canaries.

Like in Oregon, there are a lot of athletic greats one might not associate with the state. In South Dakota there is Clyde Hagen, the NBA standout from years ago, and former NFL player Wayne Rasmussen.

Pat O’Brien (CBS sports and college basketball) and Mary Hart (Entertainment Tonight) are from Sioux Falls, and Tom Brokaw (NBC News) is from Yankton. O’Brien’s mother, Vera, worked for the Sioux Falls newspaper, the Argus Leader.

All of that is part of the joy of traveling and taking advantage of opportunities to check the local culture and history.

Steve Matthies is Herald and News sports editor. He can be reached at 541-885-4411, or