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Before cell phones and TikTok, we had Luverne holiday basketball

In Other Words
Lead Summary
Jason Berghorst, reporter

I have a habit of inserting unsolicited local history into conversations with my friends, co-workers and students. 
Not helpful, insightful historical facts that people find interesting, but often random tidbits of how things used to be. 
It’s perhaps an occupational hazard for a history teacher living in his hometown and working in the school he graduated from. But more than that, it’s human nature to look back fondly at “the good old days.”
I then often feel compelled to share how things used to be in town, at school, at church or in general with those who did not ask for a history lesson and may not want one. 
Such a situation happened last week in the Star Herald office. 
I’m covering Luverne girls’ and boys’ basketball teams this winter, and I told Editor Lori that I would have no articles for next week’s paper because neither team has games.
In that conversation I couldn’t help myself. 
I had to throw in an extra remark (which turned into six or more) of how the Luverne Holiday Tournament was once a highlight of the season for local fans. 
Lori, always looking for content for the next paper and probably wanting my ramblings to end, suggested my memories could be a column for this week’s paper.
And so here we are. 
Often during the week between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, I think back to the holiday basketball tournaments of my youth. 
The Star Herald archives show the first holiday tournament took place during the 1983-84 season, and it appears the final tournament was in 2006, although the event had changed significantly by then.
The tournaments I remember most were from about 1993-1996. 
In those days (oh boy, here I go) it was a two-night, four-team tournament with only boys’ teams from Luverne, Hills-Beaver Creek, Adrian and Southwest Christian.
And the tournament games were the place to be. 
The 1956 LHS gym, the “big gym” in those days, was always packed with fans from the four schools within 20 minutes of Luverne. 
College kids were home on break. 
High school students (before cell phones and social media) caught up with one another after being away from school for a week. 
New Christmas gift clothing was worn proudly. 
The tournament was the place to see and be seen, and it was the best chance to meet kids from the other schools (before Instagram and TikTok). 
Many adults probably saw people they hadn’t seen since the Rock County Fair – or longer – during the annual tournaments. 
Of course, today’s high school sports schedules, facilities, holiday vacations, social media and Netflix all make the holiday tournaments of the 1990s seem completely old-fashioned. 
But I really do enjoy looking back at those memories … and sharing them with others. 

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