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John Diefendorf



The 1946 Irene High grad was named Mr. Basketball in South Dakota for the first half of the 20th century. By the time he graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1950, he owned or shared five North Central Conference records and seven USD records. A four-year starter, Diefendorf was a three-time all-NCC performer (1948-50) and led the league in scoring in 1949 and '50. The 5-foot-11 forward set NCC records for points in a season (271), field goals in a season (103), field goals in a game (18), points in a game (39) and scoring average in a season (22.6). He set school records for points in a game (39), season (389) and career (861), field goals in a game (18) and season (149), free throws in a season (90) and scoring average in a season (20.4). He played on USD's 1947-48 team that pulled off one of the greatest upsets of all-time, defeating Bradley 54-51. Bradley was unbeaten and ranked No. 1 among major colleges.

Sportswriter Craig Stolze said of Diefendorf: "Dief has no equal in the conference when it came to shooting, his accuracy on some nights reaching phenomenal proportions. His coach, Rube Hoy, says Diefendorf has 'the greatest pair of basketball hands I have ever seen.' Also a brilliant passer who seems to have eyes in the back of his head."

Following graduation, Diefendorf was invited to a tryout with the Minneapolis Lakers, but he chose to enter the service instead.

At Irene, he was a four-year starter in football and basketball and competed in baseball and track as well.

He is a member of the Irene High and USD halls of fame. Diefendorf was a longtime banker in the Sioux City, Beresford, Irene and Hurley areas and was a strong supporter/contributor to the building of the DakotaDome in Vermillion.










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