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Basketball Tournaments, Past and Present

The Sioux Falls Arena has many basketball tournaments in its past and it continues to be a major venue, even with its replacement under construction.

Tournament season always reminds me of basketball tournaments I have seen, and they go back a few years.

The first South Dakota Class “B” Basketball Tournament I saw was in 1966. Of course, there was no distinction between boys’ tournaments and girls’ tournaments in those days because these were the Dark Ages, when high school girls and, for that matter, college women were more or less out of luck.

Things are much better now, but that was then.

The 1966 tournament was won by Parkston in the Sioux Falls Arena that was just a few years old. It seems outdated now, and it’s being replaced, but back then it seated close to 10-thousand people, and the place was rockin’.

Going to the “B” tournament for a high school student was a big deal, even if your school wasn’t in it. I saw tournaments all four years I was in high school. There was only Class A and Class B then, with the 16 largest schools in one class and all the remaining schools in the other.

And in those days there was also the North Central Conference Holiday Tournament over Christmas vacation, always in Sioux Falls. Students who were on break would be there, and sometimes you would see players from various teams after the game at the Mocamba Club, no doubt enjoying a soft drink.

Now, South Dakota has three classes of boys’ and girls’ basketball, with each class playing in a different city, and the Summit League tournament is a very big draw in Sioux Falls, as it should be.

Students are still excited when their school wins a high school title, and the men and women who win the Summit go on to the NCAA tournaments, which I refuse to call the “Big Dance.”

Times change, and so do tournaments, but I still remember the ones I saw way back then.

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