With the high school basketball season coming to an end, many players are turning to AAU and travel leagues to stay on the court, but Mitchell High School seniors Derek and Tayler Factor are taking a different route.
The Factors already competed in the Lakota All-Star Game on March 23 in Oglala and they will both compete with teams from April 5 to April 7 at the AMERIND All West 100 Native American Basketball Classic in Lakewood, Colorado.
More than 1,000 players from across the country compete in the tournament, but it has a unique twist for the Factors. They have been attending the tournament since their freshman years, playing for teams with players scattered across the midwest. Derek has linked up with a team based out of Oklahoma, while Tayler's is located in Montana.
"It's different (playing with unfamiliar teammates), but it's also a fun experience to learn and grow with them as the tournament goes on," Tayler said.
The classic is in its 34th year, starting in 1985 after a number of youth suicides grew on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. The Office of Native American Programs (ONAP) developed the tournament to provide off-reservation educational opportunities.
Motivational speakers and former professional athletes speak at the tournament and attendees are often encouraged to seek college scholarships.
"I think it's just a special opportunity for Native kids," Derek said. "Not a lot of Native kids get publicized. I think it's a good tournament for them to take the spotlight."
Both Factors are also scheduled to play in the Native American Basketball Invitational from June 23 to June 29 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Former Armour star Altenburg reflects on career after HOF induction
Almost 30 years after graduating from Armour High School, Jodi (Pipes) Altenburg was inducted into the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame on March 23 at the Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls.
Altenburg guided Armour to a 73-3 record and three Class B state championships during her tenure, tallying 1,333 points and three all-state selections. During her senior season, she averaged 21 points per game and was a finalist for the Miss South Dakota basketball award, leading to her induction.
"There's so many things basketball does for students these days and for me in the past," Altenburg said. "You don't think of that when you're playing the game, you just enjoy it, and everything else that comes with it is pretty cool."
After her career ended in Armour, Altenburg was a standout point guard for the University of South Dakota. She is currently second in school history in steals (249) and third in assists (507) and has been a member of the Coyote Sports Hall of Fame since 2010.
Altenburg then spent time as a teacher and middle school basketball coach in De Smet, before moving to Harrisburg. She is still a coach, but she gave up basketball for track and field.
Altenburg wanted to see her kids-Chase, who is currently a freshman on the Mount Marty basketball team, and Sydney, who is a sophomore at Harrisburg-play basketball and coaching a varsity sport is not possible as her husband, Jim, serves as the school's athletic director.
Still, Altenburg has managed to find a way to keep basketball an integral part of her life, especially through her family.
"We just love the sport," Altenburg said. "It's a different type of community-the basketball community. You just surround yourself with people that enjoy watching basketball and playing basketball and watching our kids grow up and run into people we used to play against."