Mitchell High School boys' basketball team's season comes to an endThis past weekend’s Class AA state tournament marked the end of Gary Munsen’s 38th season on the sideline for the Mitchell High School boys’ basketball team.
By: Travis Mester, The Daily Republic
This past weekend’s Class AA state tournament marked the end of Gary Munsen’s 38th season on the sideline for the Mitchell High School boys’ basketball team.
This year’s squad — a team that began the season with five new starters and limited playing experience — finished with the fourth best record in Munsen’s tenure.
The Kernels finished the season 21-4 and took second to Sioux Falls O’Gorman at the state tournament.
“They had more success than what I ever dreamed they could have,” Munsen said of his team. “With no starters back, I was just amazed.
“Imagine what their record could have been if we wouldn’t have played the Mike Miller Classic.”
Mitchell lost two games — one to DeLaSalle (Minn.) and another to White Station (Tenn.) — at the inaugural Mike Miller Classic in December at the Corn Palace. The Kernels other two defeats came against Pierre (58-53 on Feb. 19) and O’Gorman (56-49 on Saturday).
The Kernels won 11 games in a row from Jan. 7 until the Pierre loss. Mitchell went 13-1 in Eastern South Dakota Conference play and won the school’s 19th conference title — Munsen has coached the Kernels to 13 ESD crowns.
Mitchell, which was ranked No. 2 behind O’Gorman all season long, avenged the loss to Pierre by defeating the Governors in district play to earn the school’s 34th state-tournament berth in the past 38 seasons.
Munsen has been the head coach for 33 state-tournament boys’ teams. Including his time coaching the girls’ team, Munsen has been to 45 state tournaments.
“One year was as an assistant, but heck, I was still there,” Munsen said.
Seniors Nick Young, Ryan Yackley and Trevor Flemmer will be gone when next winter rolls around.
Young, Tucker Volesky and Jade Miller were role players off the bench on last season’s team, which finished eighth at the state tournament.
This season, all three were named to the all-ESD team and the all-tournament team at the state tournament. Volesky and Young were the top two vote-getters for the all-ESD team and were named to the first team, while Miller was an honorable-mention selection. Volesky led Class AA in scoring at better than 20 points per game prior to the state tournament.
Young averaged 11 points and eight rebounds and Jade Miller scored better than 10 points a game.
The Kernels had the same staring lineup in every game this season with junior Matt Henriksen and senior Ryan Yackley joining Young, Volesky and Miller. Henriksen scored better than 8 points and grabbed five rebounds a game for the Kernels.
Juniors Tate Martin, Brady Maxwell and Brian Maxwell were the first off the bench for Mitchell, which will return six of its top eight players next season.
The three teams that posted a better record than this season’s squad were teams in 1984, 1985 and 1986, Munsen said. The Kernels went 22-1 in ’84, were undefeated in ’85 and were 21-3 in 1986. The Kernels last won a state title in 2005, when they went 20-4.
Munsen, who will be retiring after next season, said he anticipates the Kernels to be the top-ranked team in Class AA at the start of next season.
“I’m only saying that because everybody loves to point the finger at Mitchell,” he said. “Pierre will be good and Sioux Falls Lincoln and Sioux Falls Washington have a lot of people back … Huron will be a lot better.
“There are always teams that will be tough, but I know who the other teams are going to put as the favorite. It’s going to be us.”