Soapsuds Hollow - Sports edition: Baltic, Dells home to strong hoops tradition
November 19. 2013 12:17PM
With the end of November comes the beginning of high school basketball. There is no lack of history around here when it comes to high school hoops.
There have been champions: the Dell Rapids High School boys in 1976, the St. Mary boys in 2004, the DRHS girls in 2006, and the five-time State champion Baltic girls with titles in 1995, 1996, 1998, 2001 and 2003.
There have been many players from Dell Rapids, St. Mary and Baltic high schools who have been named to All-State teams. Over 20 different players have made All-State teams or honorable mention in the Class B Boys record books, with many of those players making All-State teams more than once. Nine different girls appear on Class B All-State team rosters, with many of them appearing multiple times. Following the change to a three-class system in the 1980s, there have been five different boys and seven different girls names to Class A All-State teams, with several of them appearing multiple times.
The South Dakota record books for high school basketball include Jerry Even of St. Mary, who scored over 2,000 points in his high school career during the 1960s, and Peter Torgusen of DRHS, who made 20 free throws in one game in the 1980s. Although neither of these accomplishments are state records, they are both included in their respective categories.
The 1996 Baltic girls team holds a national record for the highest shooting percentage in a season, at 56.5 percent, according to the National Federation of High School Associations.
Many local prep players went on to play college basketball, including Karly and Kassy Hegge, Cliff Anderson, "Sunny Jim" Schmidt, Nicky Sittig, Jeremy Kudera, Rane Mergen, Stacey and Whitney Lickteig, and Colby Fitzgerald, to name but a few. Several of these players have since been recognized by their college or university as all-time greats.
"Sunny” Jim Schmidt graduated from St. Mary in the early 1940s and went to South Dakota State University. He was an all-conference basketball player three years, and he led the North Central Conference in scoring in 1947 and 1948. He even had an exhibition tryout with the Minnesota Lakers of the NBA. He was inducted into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.
Cliff Anderson was an NAIA All-American in basketball his senior year at Dakota State University, completing the season third in the nation in scoring. The only two college players to score more points that season were M.L. Carr and Nate Archibald, of NBA fame. Anderson's induction into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame came in 2011.
One basketball player who should be mentioned is Mary Joneson. Most of the high school sports offered in the 1970s were for the boys. Girls track and Field made an appearance at DRHS in approximately 1974, and girls basketball followed later. Joneson graduated from DRHS in 1977 and attended the University of South Dakota, where she played women's basketball for four years.
Joneson holds school records at USD for most rebounds in one game (29), and for most rebounds in a career (1,029). She led the team in rebounds three of the four seasons in which she played there. She also led the team in blocked shots two of her four years, and led the team in field goal percentage two of her four years. She was inducted into the Coyote Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.