Kernels help Munsen to 21st district championship with victoryGary Munsen is leaving the Corn Palace with one last district title.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
Gary Munsen is leaving the Corn Palace with one last district title.
The Mitchell boys’ basketball team started slow and needed some late free throws to seal the game, but the Kernels defeated rival Huron 50-41 Friday at the Corn Palace to win the District 3AA championship. The win gave Mitchell (19-3) a berth to the state tournament and Munsen his 21st district title.
“You see Munsen get another district championship, another ESD title and another trip to the state tournament,” said Mitchell senior guard Tate Martin, who finished with six points. “It’s awesome to be a part of.”
Before the start of the year, Munsen stamped this season his last, and with Friday night’s win he has coached his final game where he’s won many of his ballgames, the Corn Palace.
Munsen said the large crowd made the game more special. He was emotional after the game, as he’s been dealing with the death of his older brother, Ronnie.
“Whenever you get to the state tournament, it’s special,” Munsen said. “(Friday) was tough on me because of my brother. I thought I would kind of get over it since Tuesday. It’s been tough because of all the letters I’ve gotten and calls I’ve gotten the last two or three days. … There are more important things than basketball sometimes.”
Munsen, who will be coaching in his 35th and final state tournament in two weeks, watched his team get down by four points early in the first quarter. But a strong inside game from Brady Maxwell and Jade Miller helped the Kernels rally.
Miller led the Kernels with 15 points and Maxwell had 12 points, four blocks and three steals.
After Maxwell had a block on Huron with about 35 seconds left in the first quarter, Tucker Volesky knocked down a jumper to give Mitchell a 15-13 lead after the first eight minutes.
Maxwell had a nice up-and-under layup midway through the second quarter and Matt Henriksen scored from inside, helping the Kernels build a 10-point lead. Huron was held to five second-quarter points.
The Kernels led 26-18 at halftime, but expanded the lead to 14 in the third quarter on Martin’s lay-in.
The Tigers got within 36-30 after a 6-0 run toward the end of the third, but Martin had an acrobatic shot that dropped with 2.5 seconds left before the fourth quarter that pushed Mitchell’s lead to eight.
“We kind of had them going there in the second half,” Munsen said. “We pretty much had them in check. We know everyone is going to make a run at you.”
Miller hit a jumper with 4:02 left in the game that made it look like the Kernels would run away with the district title. But Huron went on a run that kept Munsen tense until the final 40 seconds.
With 3:20 left, Huron got three straight field goals to pull the Tigers within 46-39, and Luke Carr’s two free throws squeezed the Kernels’ lead to five.
“We tried to trap them and get all over the court,” Huron coach Tim Buddenhagen said. “It was too little too late at that time.”
Jade Miller missed a jumper after Carr’s free throws, but Henriksen had a crucial offensive rebound that kept the ball in Mitchell’s possession to burn seconds off the clock. He finished with a team-high 12 rebounds.
Volesky and Miller both hit two free throws in the final 40 seconds that sealed the victory.
“We didn’t let it get us down when we got behind, but if we’re not scoring we can always play our defense,” Volesky said. “We weren’t scoring the way we wanted to, but there are other ways to win.”
Carr led Huron with 12 points, but the Tigers shot 30 percent from the field and were outrebounded 35-25. Spencer Stahly added 11 for Huron, which was on an eight-game winning streak before coming to the Corn Palace.
The Kernels were 18-of-36 from the field and knocked down 12 of 15 free throws. They’ll be the third seed at the state tournament, behind top-seeded and defending state champion Sioux Falls O’Gorman and second-seeded Sioux Falls Lincoln.
MITCHELL 50, HURON 41
Brady Maxwell 5-7 2-3 12, Jade Miller 5-12 -6 15, Tucker Volesky 3-6 2-2 9, Tate Martin 3-7 0-0 6, Matt Henriksen 2-4 2-2 6, Seth Cavanaugh 0-0 2-2 2, Brian Maxwell 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 18-36 12-15 50.
Spencer Stahly 4-2 1-2 11, Adam Zwanziger 0-4 1-2 1, Zack Cranston 2-7 1-2 5, Luke Carr 5-19 2-2 12, Deion Faulks 2-7 0-0 5, Clark Wintle 1-3 1-2 3, Tyler Hajek 1-2 0-0 2, Lucas Morrison 0-0 0-0 0, Justin Decker 1-3 0-0 2, Totals 16-54 6-10 41.
MHS 15 26 38 50
HHS 13 18 30 41
3-Point Goals— Mitchell 2-4 (Miller 1-1, Volesky 1-2), Huron 3-16 (Stahly 2-6, Faulks 1-4). Fouled out— Decker (Huron). Rebounds— Mitchell 35 (Henriksen 12), Huron 25 (Carr 5). Assists— Mitchell 9 (Martin 4), Huron 3 (Carr 2). Total fouls— Mitchell 11, Huron 17