Okaton Gym Scores Place in S.D. High School Basketball Hall of Fame
The South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Sioux Falls, S.D., recently added a local gem of a gym to the Pentagon at the Sanford Sports Complex.
Photographs featuring the Okaton school gym and the 1950 Okaton basketball team will join a display of other South Dakota gyms that are older, or are no longer in existence.
The Okaton gym had a ceiling height of 10 foot six inches, and a hoop height of eight foot seven inches! According to Mel Roghair, “It was a hoot. [Seeing] the frustration for other teams, because their shots would hit the ceiling.” Mel also recalled the unevenness of the gym floor under the basket. A particularly heavy rain one year caused the water to leak and freeze on the floor. The kids would run and slide on this patch of ice and Mel ended up meeting the wall with his nose. Although Mel left “the wall standing” he lost a bit of blood!
Chip (Allen) Peters remembers, “It seemed big to me at the time. If the ball hit the ceiling it was considered out of bounds.”
Mel, Chip, and Nick (Junior) Daum were a few of the team members that played the last year the Okaton had a basketball team in 1950. Of note, Daum is the grandfather of South Dakota basketball star, Mike Daum who is a professional basketball player for Monbus Obradoiro of the Liga ACB. Mike played basketball for South Dakota State University from 2016-2019. At six foot 9 inches, he is a forward on the team and was named the Summit League Player of the Year three times. He also was 7th in NCAA for career scoring with 3,067 points.