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Korkow family prepares for one more state tournament

Posted: Friday, Mar 17th, 2017

As mom and dad, Kelly and Todd look on, their four sons pose for a photo Tuesday evening. Here, Cole is passing the ball to twin brother Clay, while Logan (guarding Cole) and Adam supply token defense. Cole and Clay, with the rest of the Huron Tiger basketball team will open play at the Class “AA” State Tournament tonight in Rapid City. For the Korkow family, the twins’ tournament marks the end of nearly 20 years of high school basketball in the orange and black. PHOTO BY CURT NETTINGA/PLAINSMAN

HURON — Just inside the garage at Todd and Kelly Korkow’s home there’s a wire basket, sitting atop a recently used snow blower. In the basket rest a pair of Nike hightops, with the laces undone, and a small trophy. The trophy is one from some basketball tournament in which onr of the Korkow’s four boys have participated over the past 20 years.

The shoes are something of a trophy as well; one pair of what has undoubtedly been dozens - maybe hundreds - of similar shoes worn and worn out by those same four boys.

On Thursday evening, on the Barnett Court of the Rushmore Civic Center, the youngest of those boys - twins Cole and Clay Korkow, will, with their Huron Tiger teammates, continue their quest for a state basketball title.

When the ball is tossed in the air, the twins will complete a “Korkow Slam” at the Civic Center.

“It’s going to be exciting, for sure,” Kelly said, as the boys traded brotherly barbs while they prepared for a posed photo. “Watching all these boys grow up and play and now they get to compete for a state title.”

The Korkow’s oldest son Adam was a junior on the 2004 state title team, coming off coach Tim Buddenhagen’s bench, giving that team a jolt of speed and quickness.

Second son Logan played on the Huron team that finished fourth at the “AA,” on the same floor and tonight Cole and Clay will play there as well.

“It’s kind of interesting too,” Kelly added, “because Todd played on that floor too.” The elder Korkow was a member of the Iroquois Chief team that did indeed play in the Class “B” State Tournament that took place in Rapid City that year, one of the rare times that the biggest little tournament in the state did not take place in Aberdeen.

Cole and Clay were first exposed to Tiger basketball, as many boys and girls are, by attending games of older brothers and sisters at Huron Arena. During the 2004 title run, while the crowd milled around, waiting for the players to come out of the locker room after another win, a pair of dark haired little bundles of arms and legs ran with reckless abandon around the Arena floor.

“Yep,” Adam chuckles, “that would have been the twins.” Adam is a dozen years older than his youngest siblings, but he had a hand in teaching them the game that he had learned from their father and from Coach Buddenhagen. Many of those lessons took place on the driveway court in front of the Korkow’s house, presumably with a fair number of skinned knees.

“I see some similarities, for sure,” Adam said. “We all kinda learned the same way, so I guess that’s not a big surprise. They have some of the same attitude for sure.”

Adam sees little brother Cole as being more like he was while playing in high school, while Clay and Logan share some of the same things.

“Cole and I are probably a little bit more reserved when we play,” Adam said. “We all worked hard to get better, but I always tried to just play hard and not worry about anything else.”

Logan, who started for Buddenhagen as a sophomore, was the heart and soul of the team when he was playing. He was more vocal and would challenge anyone in the paint with little concern over how big that guy was.

“I would agree that Clay is more like me,” Logan said. “We were always going at it; always attacking.” Logan said that watching the twins grow older and more mature on the court has been enjoyable.

“It’s watching them play, certainly, but it’s also about watching this team come into their own and watching the game of basketball. This group has overcome a lot.”

Logan was unable to play for a state title. A torn ACL had him watching the Tigers drop a regional game his junior year, but as a senior, he helped Huron to its fourth-place finish.

“It (watching as a junior) was tough,” Logan said. Watching the Tigers falter last year in both district games brought back some memories.

The path that led to this year’s state tournament really began in earnest after last year’s loss to Aberdeen Central in the third-place game in the district, the twins agreed.

“As a team, we been working toward this week and waiting for it for awhile,” Cole said. “I would say that the Aberdeen game put a bit of a chip on our shoulder.”

A year after that game, a group of highly performing juniors have matured into a formidable group of seniors with the resolve that nothing was going to surprise them or stand in their way this season.

“We have really good team chemistry,” Clay said. “Our confidence in ourselves as a team is solid. Everyone knows his role and does the best he can to do what he needs to do.”

Both the twins have drawn upon the early driveway lessons and tips learned from two brothers who have been able to play at the state tournament as they prepare.

“They don’t do anything specific,” Clay said. “You know - work hard, give it your best all the time and things will go well. That is the kind of advice that they have given us.”

“Fundamentals too,” Cole added. “Doing the things the way they are supposed to be done.”

Not surprisingly, as the twins got older, the two-on-two driveway games began to pick up in intensity.

“We haven’t really played for a couple years,” Adam said. “It was the old guys against the young guys then.” And the outcome?

“Oh, Logan and I beat them pretty badly,” Adam said with a note of pride in his voice. “They couldn’t score on us.”

Logan remembered the game as well, but knows that the twins are probably in a position to take the upper hand now. No longer are they spindly sophomores, waiting to grow into their lanky frames.

“Well, we’re getting older for sure and are not in as good of shape,” Logan noted. “They are getting tougher and more scrappy, plus they are training hard every day.”

So, will there be another driveway match at some point after this weekend’s state tournament?

“Oh I would expect so,” Adam said. “When it gets warmer, I would expect that we will find our way back out there at some point.”

Sometime on Sunday, Kelly and Todd will cross the state, returning home from a state basketball tournament for the last time, unless grandkids play when they get older. They have invested many years and much time - as all parents do - in supporting the athletes that live in their home as much as they can.

“What will that be like?” Kelly repeats, pondering the trip. “I don’t know. It will be different, that’s for sure.”

For the twins, all they can do is trust in their teammates and coaches and prepare as best they can to be successful in Rapid City.

“We are going to go and do our best,” Clay said. “It will be a special thing for the team and coaches and the community too, if we are able to do what we set out to do.”

For the complete article see the 03-16-2017 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-16-2017 paper.

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