Opinion: Wish kids could see the county I rememberWe traveled to Presho from Pierre the other evening for the hotly contested Chamberlain Cubs vs. Lyman Raiders girls’ basketball game. The temperature outside was, well, frightful, and Highway 83 had a few small drifts decorating its shoulders. Still, the driving surface was fine, and the visibility — except for the occasional shot of blowing snow just above the roadway — was limited only by the horizon and approaching night.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
We traveled to Presho from Pierre the other evening for the hotly contested Chamberlain Cubs vs. Lyman Raiders girls’ basketball game.
The temperature outside was, well, frightful, and Highway 83 had a few small drifts decorating its shoulders. Still, the driving surface was fine, and the visibility — except for the occasional shot of blowing snow just above the roadway — was limited only by the horizon and approaching night.
Given that the gauge in the cab of my truck ranged between minus 4 and minus 11 degrees all the way back, it probably was an uncivil evening to be traveling out in the open for a high-school basketball game. A granddaughter plays for Chamberlain, though, two others were leaving the next day for spring semester at college and the nearly 3-year-old is worth any trip. So, there we were, pounding through the familiar, frigid prairies of northwestern Lyman County.
Lyman County plays its games at the Lyman Garden in Presho. When I was a school boy, the Garden didn’t exist, at least not with that sort of name. Lyman and its Raiders didn’t exist, either. Presho did, Presho High School, and the place fielded some pretty good basketball teams. In those days only boys played basketball in high school, of course.
During my school years, I played in most of the gyms in most of the Lyman County towns along Interstate 90. The interstate didn’t exist. U.S. Highway 16 went through or right along the very edge of each of the towns that today are just the name on the green highway exit marker to many travelers on the super highway that is I-90. That’s progress, but I’m old enough to remember when a trip to the gym in any of the old Highway 16 towns was a test of skills with some pretty savvy athletes.
During the 1959-1960 school year, the sophomore team at Chamberlain was invited to play in what I believe was the Medicine Creek Conference. We played the varsity teams from Reliance and Kennebec and Presho and Vivian and maybe Wood and Witten and Draper or Murdo. Pukwana might even have been in the mix. I say that because we played them early in the season in the Pukwana gym, and I tore some ligaments in my ankle with about a minute left in the game. I don’t know the final score. All I really remember about that night is being let out of the car at the curb and crawling across the lawn and up the back steps to my kitchen door. I was on crutches four or five weeks.
Chamberlain was growing quickly in those days as construction workers moved to town to take jobs on the Big Bend Dam. Basketball had two classes, Class A and Class B. By the time I was a senior, Chamberlain had been bumped to Class A, and we had our hands full with schools like Pierre and Mitchell and Parkston.
My sophomore year, though, we were Class B. Our varsity played area towns, but our sophs played Medicine Creek. We struggled with the Longhorns and Kanaries and Bearcats and so on. We didn’t win a lot of our games, I suppose. I don’t remember the scores. I went along and sat on the end of the bench, handing the coach scorebooks and pencils and stuff.
I do recall playing Reliance in Chamberlain that season. Reliance had a powerhouse team that year — Larry King, my cousin Larry McManus, Duane Frame, Del Wickham, Larry Howard. They ran over a lot of varsities, and they figured to run over the sophomore Cubbies. Our coach had us hold the ball. It was 3-2 at the quarter mark, something like 9-6 at half. We lost by a dozen or so, but we survived.
Other than that game, what I remember most about that year was traveling to all of those towns when each one was a lively community with shops and newspapers and implement dealers and K-12 schools with classrooms full of kids. Sometimes I wish my kids, and my grandkids, had seen the Lyman County I knew. It’s always fun to return, even at 10 below zero.
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