Thune, Applebee to be honored at 45th Jones County InvitationalThe invitational is three days, has an eight-team format and is set up like the state tournament with the winners moving on to play each other and the losers playing in the consolation bracket.
By: Aaron Saunders, The Daily Republic
MURDO — In 1969, Richard Nixon was inaugurated, the United States put a man on the moon and the Murdo Invitational was created.
Forty-five years later, the invitational is the longest running annual basketball invitational in the state.
The tournament, which starts today and runs through Saturday, is now named the Jones County Invitational after Murdo and Draper high schools merged to form Jones County High School. Despite that change, the tournament still takes place in the Murdo City Auditorium.
“This tournament is special,” Jones County High School Athletic Director Larry Ball said. “It has been going on for a long time.”
The invitational is three days, has an eight-team format and is set up like the state tournament with the winners moving on to play each other and the losers playing in the consolation bracket.
For the last seven years, White River has won claimed the tournament title. The Tigers have won the invitational a total of 15 times. In total, 22 teams have played in the tournament while 11 different teams have claimed the invitational championship.
This year the tournament features Kadoka Area, White River, Lyman, Philip, Bennett County, Colome, Jones County and Stanley County.
At halftime of Friday night’s second game, the auditorium will be renamed after Harold Thune, while the court will be renamed after Jerald Applebee. The men, who will be in attendance at the dedication, are part of a trio who founded the tournament along with then-superintendent Mau-rice Haugland.
“They are being honored because of how influential they have been in our community and for the positive impact they’ve had at the school,” Ball said.
Thune, who was born in Mitchell, is a member of the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame. He played basketball for Murdo in the 1930s and came back to his hometown to teach and coach. Thune also eventually became Murdo’s athletic director. He is the father of U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
Applebee, a former Bonesteel High School three-sport athlete, moved to Murdo in 1962 and wore several hats during his time at the school.
In his 32 years of service to the Jones County school district, Applebee coached football, boys’ basketball and track, taught American history and government classes, and led the athletic depart-ment as the athletic director, all while running the school as its principal from 1971 to 1994.
“I don’t know if it is very necessary but it is kind of humbling for me,” Applebee said of having the basketball court named in his honor. “I was coaching at the time the tournament was starting, so getting this done is quite humbling maybe I do maybe I don’t deserve it.”
The tournament kids off at 1 p.m. when Kadoka Area plays White River at 1 p.m. Colome plays Bennett County at 2:30 p.m., Lyman plays Philip at 6:30 p.m. and Jones County and Stanley County finish the first day off with an 8 p.m. game. All eight spots of the tournament will be played out.