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Sen. Thune, family relishes father's accomplishments

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SIOUX FALLS -- Basketball was very much a part of the Thune family household.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., his brothers, Rich, Bob and Tim and sister Karen all played basketball at Murdo High School. That love and passion for the game of basketball came from family patriarch Harold Thune.

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"I have four boys and a daughter who played the sport," Harold Thune said. "As a family it has been fun to enjoy the sport we love."

The elder Thune, who is now 93 years old, starred at Murdo High School in the late 1930s before heading to the University of Minnesota to continue his basketball career. For his accomplishments on the hardwood, Harold Thune was inducted into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame Saturday at the Sioux Falls Convention Center in Sioux Falls.

"This is a tremendous honor," said Harold Thune, who was surprised when he first got the call that he was going to be inducted. "When I think of the great players to come from this little state of South Dakota, it is a great honor and I really appreciate it."

When Thune played for the Golden Gophers, he was a 5-foot-11 guard. While at Minnesota, Thune scored 12 points against New York University at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Sen. John Thune, who was also an accomplished basketball player, was named an all-state selection as a junior and senior, and said he is sure that his dad was the best basketball player in the family.

"He loved to play basketball the way it was supposed to be played," he said. "He was a team player, he distributed the ball, he always believed in finding the open man, played defense and rebounded. He did all the things that you are supposed to do to help team success. I would have loved to be able to see him play in his days."

After his collegiate basketball career came to an end, Harold Thune joined the Naval Air Corps and served as a fighter pilot. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for shooting down Japanese planes during World War II.

Harold Thune moved back to Murdo after the war to help with his father's hardware store. In 1963, he began working at Murdo High School. Thune went on to teach, coach and become the athletic director before he retired in 1984.

In addition to being inducted into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame Saturday, Thune was inducted into the South Dakota Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

"This is a very great honor for my dad and my family," Sen. John Thune said. "These are all people who have put up great accomplishments in South Dakota athletics. For him to be a part of a very special class of inductees is a great thing for him and us."

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