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Sellands hone basketball skills at homemade gym

Members of the Selland family, from left, Brad Selland, Rachel Selland, Shelby Selland, Brett Selland, Myah Selland and Doyle Selland pose together at the family’s barnyard basketball court Monday near Letcher. (Aaron Saunders/Republic)

Basketball is in the Selland family blood.

The love of basketball that bonds generations of Sellands was forged on a barnyard basketball court.

The barn is located on the Selland family farm, where the last two generations of Sellands have spent honing their basketball playing ability. Years of playing on the family court has led to much success, including Shelby and Myah Selland earning Class B all-state honors Tuesday.

“Basketball is kind of the center of our family,” said Rachel Selland, a Woonsocket High School senior. “It is our thing. It started with my grandpa and it has been past down to all of us. It is a really important part of all of our lives.”

The barn located less than 30 yards away from the girls’ grandfather Doyle Selland’s house features two basketball hoops. The homemade gym is west of Letcher and is filled with small bleachers, a weight set, scoreboard and a heater to keep the space warm in the winter.

Rachel’s earliest memory of the family court was watching her siblings — Matthew and Caitlyn — play with her father, Brad. Flash forward and it’s Rachel, along with Shelby and Myah, who uses the court to their benefit. All three girls played on the Sanborn Central/Woonsocket girls basketball team with cousin, Morgan.

“I have pretty much grown up in that barn,” said Shelby, an Augustana College signee and Sanborn Central senior. “It is where I fell in love with the game and it is where I developed my game.”

Together the girls helped the Blackhawk girls basketball team reach the Class B state championship game, where they fell to Warner. All four Sellands started for the Blackhawks and Shelby led the way with 18.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game this season. Myah, a freshman at Sanborn Central, followed with 13.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5 assists per game.

Rachel, who is headed to Dakota Wesleyan University to play basketball next season, averaged 7.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, while Morgan, a junior, averaged 8.5 points per game.

“I can’t remember a time as a family that we haven’t been up there playing family pickup games or working on our games individually,” Myah said. “In the summer, it is almost more like our first home. In the winter we don’t get up there as much, but we definitely put it to good use.”

Barn beginnings

Growing up, Doyle and Arlan Selland got their start playing basketball in a barn on a farm not far from the one the family plays in now. The brothers built a pair of wooden backboards and practiced their games, which they showcased at Letcher High School. The boys farmed with their father, Albert, went away to college and came back to continue the family business.

In 1965, Doyle dug up those old backboards that he and his brother practiced on and put them up in the red and white barn less than 30 yards from his house. He wanted his twin sons — Brad and Brett — to play the game he loved.

Little did Doyle know, the court would become the place to play for not only his family, but for other neighbors in Letcher and kids from Woonsocket and Plankinton.

“One day I came by and saw several cars, so I went up and looked and I didn’t know any of the kids,” Doyle said. “I guess word got around and people had a great time and loved to use it. There are kids who have played up there that have played in state basketball tournaments.”

Brett said he played in some heated games in the barn growing up, and it was a place people would come play because there was no gym to play in.

“We don’t have as many families around like we used to,” Brett said. “So there isn’t as much activity as there used to be, but the girls have put it to good use.”

Success for Sellands

Myah, Shelby, Rachel and Morgan starred on the basketball court this year, but they are not the first Sellands to have success on the hardwood.

Doyle averaged 23 points per game as a senior at Letcher High School, where he scored 50 points against Fulton in 1953.

Brad and Brett helped the Woonsocket boys basketball team reach the Class B state tournament in 1977. Brad is Rachel’s dad and Brett is Myah and Shelby’s dad.

“Basketball has been a big part of our family,” Brad said. “We always knew dad could play and once we had the barn, we always wanted to play up there. Sometimes at night we would keep one eye on the TV and one eye on the barn to see if anyone would drive up so we could play with them. It didn’t matter if it was cold or hot, we just wanted to play basketball.”

Brad and Brett’s younger sisters, Sue and Heather (Selland) Tuthill, also starred for the Woonsocket girls basketball team. Sue earned third-team all-state honors in 1988 and went on to play at Morningside College, while Heather went on to play at now defunct Westmar University in Le Mars, Iowa. Brad’s daughter and son — Caitlyn and Matthew Selland — each earned all-281 Conference honors while in high school.

“They have contributed quite a bit to area basketball over the years,” SCW co-head coach Rob Baruth said. “People have been talking about the barn for years. We have taken the girls down there a few times in the summertime to get some work in, and it is a pretty cool deal.”