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Fort Yates 1956 Basketball Warriors
August 25 2014

Fort Yates 1956 Basketball Warriors to be Honored at Powwow
The United Tribes International Powwow recognizes and honors the Fort Yates Warriors basketball team of 1956. The squad from Standing Rock was the first Native basketball team to win the North Dakota High School Class “B” Basketball Tournament.

The ’56 Warriors will be special guests Thursday, September 4 during the 7 p.m. Grand Entry at the United Tribes Powwow.

On the 1956 team were: Ronald Archambault, Leslie Bobtail Bear, Robert Gipp, Larry Hayes, Arnold Kills Crow, Russell Lawrence, Wilbur Pleets, Sylvester Vermillion, Leonard Village Center, Joe Yellow Hammer and Walter Yellow Hammer. They were coached by Wallace Galluzi, assisted by Miles Bollinger and student manager Raymond Dunn. Fort Yates High School Cheerleaders in 1956 were: Rose Mary Voight, Marilyn Thompson, Ardis McLaughlin and Theresa See Walker.

Fort Yates has produced four high school championship basketball teams: 1956, 1964 and 1998 as North Dakota class “B” competitors and 1973 in class “A.”

That first championship came with a two point, 54-52 win over St. Thomas on March 17, 1956 at the University of North Dakota Field House in Grand Forks. Fort Yates was one of the favorites going in and won the tournament “to the thundering approval” of an estimated 8,000 fans, wrote a sports reporter covering the game. “The Warriors mixed basketball prowess with Globetrotter stunts, even in face of championship pressure.”

The Warriors were an exciting, full-court-press team, so potent they tallied 100 or more points in six games during their 31 game season. The greatest point-production was a rout of the New Leipzig Tigers 131 to 53. This was long before the advent of the shot-clock and some opponents, trailing by as much as 20, tried to stall to keep them from reaching the century mark.

In the championship game they came-from-behind in the closing two minutes. Arnold Kills Crow hit two jump shots, adding to his game-high 18, and Larry Hayes sank key free-throws to seal the victory. They finished the season 28 wins and only three losses.

Members of the 1956 squad were honored by the North Dakota High School Activities Association in 1986 on the 30th anniversary of their victory. They were treated with utmost respect and received a standing ovation from the audience attending the state class “B” tournament. The team members felt it was quite an honor.

Now, 58 years later, most of these heroes-of-the-hard-court have walked-on to the Spirit World. Three who are still keepers-of-the-flame of that first Native championship in North Dakota are: Leonard Village Center (one of the team’s starting five), Robert Gipp and Wilbur “Banny” Pleets, all of Fort Yates.

Please join United Tribes in remembering their break-through accomplishment and recognizing all who were associated with their achievement.

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