Larry Luitjens Obituary Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Legendary Custer Coach Dies Aged 81

South Dakota’s basketball community is in mourning following the passing of Larry Luitjens, the state’s most successful boys basketball coach. Luitjens, who resided in Sioux Falls, passed away on June 10 at the age of 81. With a coaching career spanning nearly 50 years, Luitjens amassed an impressive record, achieving numerous state championships and leaving a lasting legacy in the world of basketball. Join us as we remember the life and accomplishments of Larry Luitjens.

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Unparalleled Coaching Legacy

Larry Luitjens’ tenure as a head coach saw his teams compete in an astounding 1,053 games. Over the course of his career, his teams emerged victorious in 71 percent of those matchups, accumulating an impressive overall record of 748-305. His dedication and passion for the sport were evident through his remarkable achievements on the basketball court.

State Championships and Unforgettable Victories

Throughout his illustrious career, Luitjens guided seven teams to state championships. Notably, De Smet clinched Class B titles in 1970 and 1971 under Luitjens’ guidance. Later, at Custer High School, he led the Wildcats to Class A championships in 1990, 1992, 1993, 1998, and 2002. These triumphs solidified his status as a coaching legend and inspired generations of players.

Recognition and Induction

In 2012, Larry Luitjens received a well-deserved honor as he was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame for athletics by the National Federation of State High School Associations. This prestigious recognition showcased Luitjens’ immense contributions to the sport and celebrated his impact on the lives of countless athletes he mentored.

From Athlete to Mentor

Larry Luitjens’ journey in basketball began as a player at Britton, where he graduated in 1960. He continued his athletic pursuits at Northern State University, playing four seasons under Coach Bob Wachs. Luitjens’ time with the Wolves was marked by success, as he helped the team secure two South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference co-championships. The Wolves shared the title with Dakota Wesleyan in 1963 and with Black Hills State in 1965.

The basketball community in South Dakota and beyond mourns the loss of Larry Luitjens, the legendary Custer coach who left an indelible mark on the sport. His remarkable coaching career, highlighted by numerous state championships and an unparalleled winning record, solidifies his status as the all-time winningest boys basketball coach in the state. Larry Luitjens’ influence reached far beyond the basketball court, inspiring and shaping the lives of countless athletes. As we bid farewell to a true coaching icon, we honor his legacy and celebrate the lasting impact he made on the basketball community in Sioux Falls and throughout South Dakota.

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