White River seeks apology, answers for mistakes at Class B state tournament game

White River Superintendent Louie Krogman said the school's contingent was at the board meeting to get the association to “acknowledge the mistakes and not sugarcoat the truth.” 

031823.Aberdeen Christian BBB.Malek Wieker-1.JPG
Aberdeen Christian's Malek Wieker drives toward the basket as White River's Nicolas Marshall goes for a steal during the high school boys Class B state basketball third-place game on Saturday, March 18, 2023, in Aberdeen.
Zech Lambert / Mitchell Republic

PIERRE — During the open forum portion of its meeting Wednesday, the South Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors met for over an hour with more than 10 people from White River who were upset by mistakes that were made during the third-place game at the Class B boys basketball tournament. 

At the game with Aberdeen Christian, a point was mistakenly awarded for a free throw that an Aberdeen Christian player missed. The game ended regulation play in a tie. In the overtime, Aberdeen Christian won. 

That was just one of many rule violations during the game, according to White River Superintendent Louie Krogman, who led a group of administrators, coaches, players and fans to the board meeting.

He said the White River contingent was at the board meeting to get the association to “acknowledge the mistakes and not sugarcoat the truth. We just want proper acceptance that the mistakes occurred.” 

Krogman said that when the point was mistakenly awarded to Aberdeen Christian, Peri Strain, the school’s principal and regular scorekeeper at games, went to the scorekeeper’s table to point out the mistake. Strain’s attempt to correct the score was brushed off by the people at the scorer’s table. Krogman suggested Strain was more easily dismissed because of her race. She is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. 


The tournament was held in Aberdeen. SDHSAA Board Chairman Mark Murphy, who is from Aberdeen, said he knows the people who served at the scorer’s table and disputed that there was any sort of cultural bias involved. 

Aside from dismissing her attempt to correct the score, Strain said the work by the people at the scorer’s table was unprofessional.

“The bookkeepers at the State B Tournament this year were on their phones,” Strain said. “That should not happen.” 

When he tried to address the board, White River basketball coach Eldon Marshall was visibly emotional.

He said the basketball program’s success has turned some people against White River. “People probably do hate White River,” Marshall said. “I feel like it’s trickling down into the officials.” 

Board members who were at the meeting took turns offering their apologies for White River’s experience at the state tournament and promised to make changes. 

“I can’t believe it happened,” said board member Kelly Messmer of Harding County. “It can’t happen again.” 

SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos offered his apologies. “There may be reasons, but there are no excuses,” Swartos said. “I’m sorry that it happened to you. It shouldn’t have.”

What To Read Next
Get Local