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January 13, 2018 10:03 PM

50 Years Strong For The Jones County Invitational

Murdo, SD

If you've ever attended a high school basketball game, you've probably noticed the excitement in the crowd. For those in Murdo this weekend, they're excited for a little more than just the game.

For 50 years, people have been filling the Harold Thune Auditorium for the annual Jones County Invitational.   A tournament started by three Murdo School administrators, including Harold Thune, who was the athletic director at the time.

"At the time we started it, the people in small towns needed things to do during the winter and so basketball became quite an event," Harold Thune said.

Ever since it's been a success. 25 teams have participated over the years, and of those, three teams have played all 50 years.

"They really try and make it good, competitive basketball in an atmosphere that really makes it a unique experience for the players, coaches, and fans," Senator John Thune said.

For Murdo High School junior Alec Whitney, this is his third year playing in the tournament.

"It's just an all around fun time and great to be here," Whitney said.

Each year eight teams battle for the championship.

"They tried to mimic the state tournament, they wanted to give players in this region an opportunity to experience what it would be like if one of these teams were ever to make it to state and play three days in a row," John Thune said.

A half century down, and hopeful for another 50 years of success.

"All around good thing, it was a place for the folks to go, the parents to go, place for the kids to play, just good, clean fun," Harold Thune said.

"I think a lot of these schools look forward every year to participating in this tournament and if they do well and win this tournament it's a big deal," John Thune said.

The three day tournament runs from Thursday through Saturday. 

The tournament was also created as a replacement after the 3-Rivers Conference decided to discontinue their annual tournament. 

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