Doni Decory, left, and Laura Big Crow, who both played high school basketball at Pine Ridge High School, were chosen to be part of the LNI 25. A ceremony at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center marked the occasion as plaques and jerseys were handed out to the former high school basketball LNI players. Decory played college basketball at BYU and Big Crow plays college basketball at Mayville State.
By Rich Winter - Reprinted with permission of the Rapid City Journal
RAPID CITY - The Dale Pine family of Pine Ridge never got the chance to see their daughter Cassandra become a star at the Lakota Nation Invitational girls basketball tournament.
Cassandra, a freshman at Red Cloud Indian School near Pine Ridge, took her own life just before the LNI in December 1998.
The Pine family decided to remember their daughter by honoring those female players who earned distinction over the past 25 years at the LNI.
Participating schools nominated 78 players from over the years, and athletic directors voted the top 15 for the Silver Anniversary team.
Dale Pine Sr., said his family sponsored naming the team to honor great athletes, and draw attention to the tragedy of teen suicide.
"If (suicide) is bad here, it's 10 times worse on the reservation," he said. "We can't bring Cassandra back, but one of these 15 players might be able to help one other person."
Pine said his daughter was an excellent student who idolized the late SuAnne Big Crow, a Pine Ridge standout who was a unanimous selection to the Top 15.
Big Crow died in a car accident while traveling to the 1992 Miss Basketball Awards.
Dale Pine, Jr., who organized the nomination and selection process, and researched the history of the players, said his sister learned from many of the honorees.
"A lot of the players helped her to get better," he said. "Maybe younger girls who see these players will be remembered in another 25 years."
"Some of the players are still in college and playing basketball," Pine Sr., added. "Most of them have gone on to be successful in their professions and active in their communities.
The list also includes Laura Big Crow, Doni Decory and Lolly Steele of Pine Ridge; Belva Clifford and Norma (Hernandez) Brown Bull of Little Wound; Brittany Knife and Alissa Kingfisher-Benoit of Cheyenne-Eagle Butte; Brittani Walker of McLaughlin, Lennea Mueller of Custer; Sunni Busch of Todd County; Sunshine Archambault and Christine Janis of Red Cloud and Dina Begay of St. Francis and Amanda Carlow of Rapid City Central.
Brown Bull, who graduated from Little Wound High School in 1986 after leading the Mustangs to the All-Indian Tournament, said sports can prepare athletes for a better future.
"Basketball has come a long way. It can help you get scholarships and further your education," she said after Friday night's ceremony at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
"This was a surprise. I'm sure proud," she said.
Also honored was former White River all-state selection Marc Strain Marshall of White River, wife of current White River basketball coach Eldon Marshall.
"This is White River's first year ever in the tournament and we wanted to recognize one of their all-time greats," Pine Sr., said.
The top 15 honorees are:
Rapid City Central (1999)
Carlow was a record holder at NCAA Div. I Texas Pan American and an All-Independent Conference honorable mention selection. She was Dean of Students at Little Wound High School and is now currently a guidance counselor and basketball coach at Red Cloud Indian School.
SuAnne Big Crow
Pine Ridge (1992)
Big Crow led Pine Ridge to the 1989 State Class A girls championship, and won virtually every award given out at the LNI and state level. Big Crow died in a car accident while traveling to the 1992 Miss Basketball Awards.
Cheyenne-Eagle Butte (2002)
Knife graduated from Cheyenne Eagle Butte High School in 2002. She was a two time Class A all-state basketball player and received the 2001 LNI Most Valuable Player award. She graduated Black Hills State University and is planning on attending SDSU to further her education in the business field.
St. Francis (1985)
Begay earned two undergraduate degrees from the University of South Dakota, and a Master's from Sinte Gleska University. She is a Captain in the South Dakota Army National Guard as a Patient Administration Officer with the Medical Command Unit out of Sioux Falls.
Norma (Hernandez) Brown Bull
Little Wound (1986)
Brown Bull scored 54 points in one game as a junior for the Mustangs, and led Little Wound to the All-Indian tournament title her senior year. She has been an educator for the last 13 years.
Sunshine Woman Archambault -Carlow
Red Cloud (1997)
Archambault-Carlow was an LNI Girl's All Tourney Selection as well as Scholarship Recipient in 1997. She played at the University of Pennsylvania, then finished her college career at Huron University, Huron, SD where she finished her basketball career. She has been a coach and administrator continues to play basketball, winning two National Indian Athletic Association (NIAA) Championships. She currently resides in Oak Harbor, Wash.
Mueller was MVP at the 2005 LNI and is now playing basketball for Northern State University, where she is a double major in criminal justice and political science.
A three-sport standout at McLaughlin, Walker currently plays for Minot State University and will graduate in May of 2008.
Pine Ridge (1989)
DeCory is a three-year all-stater and winner of numerous LNI awards. She was a Miss Basketball finalist and was named South Dakota's USA Today Athlete of the Year in 1989. She finished her senior year as a Converse All-American. She played for Brigham Young University, where she was WAC Defensive Player of the Year and double sported on scholarship in basketball and track. She transferred to Utah State where she ended up as an All-America selection in the Big West Conference.
Todd County (2006)
Busch was a two-time all-state selection and a Miss Basketball finalist. She attends Chadron State College where she is a two-year starter on the basketball team and recently recorded the second triple-double in school history.
She earned four all-tournament jackets at the LNI basketball tourney, was named MVP twice and earned the Steve Withorne Award as a senior. She remains active in the community during the summers by working at Todd County Summer Rec.
Little Wound (1998)
Clifford led the Little Wound Lady Mustangs to the 1996 and 1997 district titles and two LNI semifinal appearances. She attended the US Junior Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, where she was named to the All-American team after leading Team South Dakota to the national championship along with fellow teammate Sarah DuBray. She attended Otero Junior college and still remains in the top 25 in all-time scoring at the Colorado school.
Red Cloud (1992)
Janis led Red Cloud to the state finals as a senior and was named to the all-state team that season. She still holds the record for most steals in a game in the South Dakota-Nebraska All-Star game series. She also holds the state tournament record for most free throws in the championship game. Christine was named to the first team of the Lakota Times All-Star team and guided Red Cloud to two LNI championship games and was a four year starter. She was also selected to attend an athletic awards banquet in Chicago that year.
Pine Ridge (1984)
Steele won the inaugural Player of the Year honors in South Dakota for all classes. She led the LNI and state tournaments in scoring in 1984 and led Pine Ridge to three state tournament appearances. She was assistant coach when Pine Ridge won the state title on SuAnne Big Crow's game winner in 1989. She attended Huron University where she was a SDIC All-Conference selection and was recently named to the Huron and Lakota Basketball Hall of Fame's for her athletic accomplishments.
White River (1995)
Strain-Marshall is a multi-time all-state and all-conference selection and record holder, and one of the few female athletes in the state to have achieved a quadruple-double (22 points, 14 rebounds 10 steals, 10 assists versus Jones County in 1994 (10 steals, 10 assists, 14 rebounds and 22 points); played basketball at Northern State University. In 2005 Marc was named to the 1985-1994 State "A" All Decade Team along with SuAnne Big Crow and Doni DeCory. She is employed by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe as a Fitness Specialist for the Diabetes Prevention Program and is on the Board of Directors for the White Buffalo Calf Women's Society, Inc. Marc is married to White River head boys basketball coach Eldon Marshall.
(No information was available for Alissa Kingfisher-Benoist of Cheyenne-Eagle Butte)