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Black Hills Ordnance Depot

Provo High School


Provo Rattler

Those of us who are alumni or former students of Provo School, Igloo, SD, think of ourselves as Provo Rattlers. Other people who grew up in South Dakota during the 1950's think of basketball when they hear "Provo Rattlers". Provo High School had good basketball teams and they went to the Regional Tournaments several times and the State Tournament couple of times.

The large majority of the teams at these tournaments played conventional basketball which resulted in slow, low scoring games. The "Provo Rattlers" were prone to play "run and gun" basketball which resulted in more exciting action and higher scores. This made them fan favorites.

As a side note, the sports reporters at the tournaments had problems with the names that came up while writing their stories. Provo School was in the extreme SW corner of the state, away from the population centers, and not much was known about it. The names Provo School, Igloo, BHOD and Black Hills Ordnance Depot would come up such as, Was Provo School at Igloo or at BHOD? Why was the school at Igloo called the Provo School? Some answers: Provo School started in 1912 at Provo, SD; 30 years later, shortly after Pearl Harbor, the Black Hills Ordnance Depot was built on the edge of Provo; as BHOD took up most of Provo Township and most of the population lived on the depot, a newer, bigger Provo School was built on the depot to replace the one room school at Provo; in 1945 the community on the BHOD needed a name for its new Post Office and Igloo became the name of the community. Provo School, Provo School District, Igloo, Igloo Post Office and the depot, now called Black Hills Army Depot came to an end in 1967 when the depot was closed.

Now back to "Provo Rattlers" and "run and gun" basketball. "Run and gun" is usually associated with the schools on the Native American reservations in South Dakota. One of the early problems at BHOD was manpower, especially during the war and heavy recruiting was done on the reservations, resulting in several Native American families living at Igloo. Their kids went to Provo School and were members of the athletic teams and it could be said that they were the reason this style of basketball was popular at Igloo.

I think the reason goes deeper than that. I think it goes back to the roots of "run and gun". In 1924 the National Catholic Interscholastic Basketball Tournament was started in Chicago. The St. Francis Mission team from South Dakota were in the tournament from the beginning. In 1934 they were deemed the "darling of the tournament" partially because of their "distinctive fast-paced rapid-fire style of play developed on the reservation, which today would be called run-and-gun". One of the players mentioned on the '34 team was Leonard Quick Bear. "Don't be surprised if Leonard Quick Bear runs for governor of South Dakota," said the Tourney Times; "he got his build-up at this basketball show".

Two decades later this picture appeared in The Walrus.
Vets Club Team
Lyle Blair, Bill Gaebler, Pete Parmenter, Donald Bassett, Leonard Quick Bear, Vince Goodman, George Cottrell.
Max Ollerman, Glen Silburn, Allen Cooper, Richard Miller, Delano Hughes, Ray Cottrell.

This is the 1953 Vets Club team and as we can see Leonard is still playing basketball. Both the Vets Club and the VFW had independent teams and many of the Native American workers at BHOD were good athletes and played on these teams.

The social center of Igloo was the Community Building and it featured two gyms. Especially during the winter, shooting hoops was a favorite pastime for us kids so we had the interest in basketball and the availability of exciting games at the said Community Building. "Run and gun" basketball was the normal style of basketball at Igloo.

Victor Garvis, Jack Ecklund and Gordie Syverson were three of the better known coaches at PHS and lead some of the most successful teams. The Provo Rattlers, like the St. Francis Mission teams, came very close to winning the top prize. What they did win was the hearts of the fans and as a result will probably be remembered long after the actual winners of the tournaments.


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