Coach Munsen waves goodbye to the PalaceAn estimated crowd of 2,300 showed up to see Mitchell boys’ basketball coach Gary Munsen wave goodbye to the Corn Palace Friday night.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
An estimated crowd of 2,300 showed up to see Mitchell boys’ basketball coach Gary Munsen wave goodbye to the Corn Palace Friday night.
The Kernels defeated Huron 50-41, earning Munsen his 21st district title in his 39th year as the varsity basketball coach at Mitchell.
The win punched Mitchell’s ticket to the Class AA state tournament, which starts March 15 in Rapid City. It was also the Kernels’ final game before the first round of the state tournament and was Munsen’s final game at the Corn Palace.
Mitchell assistant coach Craig Mock has been with Mitchell for five years and has helped Munsen and the Kernels win three district titles since 2008. Last year, the Kernels defeated Pierre for the district championship in front of an enormous crowd.
“District championships every year I’ve been here have raised the intensity of the game,” said Mock, who has been recommended by Munsen to take over the head coaching position next year. “This was extra special with our rival Huron coming to town, and the Corn Palace was full. That just adds to the enjoyment.”
Munsen and the Kernels received their Eastern South Dakota Conference champion medals after the victory Friday night. The players and coaches posed for photos on the court with their district-champion medals and plaque. The large crowd gave Munsen and the Kernels a large round of applause after the final horn. Mitchell’s student section also honored Munsen in the waning seconds of the game.
Huron coach Tim Buddenhagen said he knew his team was facing adversity playing Mitchell at the Corn Palace in what was Munsen’s final home game.
“We figured we’d have our backs against the wall because it’s Munsen’s last game here, and we figured our guys would be juiced up to play,” he said.
Huron started fast early, but the Kernels gave Munsen one last home victory in a venue he calls “one of his favorite places to play basketball in South Dakota.”
Mock said this season has been special, and the only thing left is to go to the state tournament and see how the team can perform.
“There have been a lot of things that go into this year, one of them being coach Munsen’s last year,” Mock said. “The other is there are seven seniors that have a vision to try to see how special they can make the year. That just adds to the journey.”