Munsen still shooting for 10th state boys' titleGary Munsen has made a career of qualifying for the state boys’ basketball tournament.
By: Claire Meador, The Daily Republic
Gary Munsen has made a career of qualifying for the state boys’ basketball tournament.
After Mitchell’s 64-60 overtime win over Sioux Falls Roosevelt Thursday night in Rapid City at the Class AA basketball tournament, Munsen is in the running for his 10th boys’ state championship.
But this year’s title might be one of the toughest titles he’s shooting for, Munsen said.
The longtime coach announced he’s retiring at the end of the year, and he expects all of the teams at the tournament to give the Kernels their best game, hoping to send Munsen away without one last title.
On Thursday night, Roosevelt, the tournament’s seventh seed, pushed the second-seeded Kernels to overtime, but Mitchell outscored the Rough Riders 12-8 in the extra period.
“They want to beat the legend if that’s what they want to call me,” Munsen said.
This is the 34th year Munsen has qualified for the boys’ state basketball in 39 years he’s been head coach.
Through his career, he has been in 13 state title games, finishing with nine first-place trophies and four second-place finishes. He also has five third-place finishes, four fourth-place wins, three fifth-place wins, four sixth-place wins, two seventh-place wins and two eighth-place wins.
Munsen said one of his most memorable state tournaments was in 1994, when the Kernels won the title as the No. 8 seed.
“At the state tournament, it’s never how it looks on paper,” Munsen said. “It’s how your team plays for 32 minutes.”
Munsen has the state record for most consecutive appearances in the state tournament, appearing in every state tournament from 1983 to 2001. Since the 2002 season, a year the Kernels did not qualify, Munsen has made it back to the state tournament every year. The only other Mitchell boys’ basketball coach to come close to Munsen’s achievements is Joe Quintal, who coached Mitchell from 1927 to 1949 and won five state titles.
Munsen also led the Mitchell girls’ basketball team to 11 state tournament appearances during his 13 years of coaching at Mitchell High School. With the girls’ team, he picked up three first-place wins and four second-place wins.
Today, the Kernels face Pierre, the third seed, in the second round of the tournament at 8:45 p.m. Central time today at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City. If Munsen and the Kernels win, they’ll be in one last state championship together.
Munsen said the secret to his success in the playoffs is hard work. He said his team, the coaching staff and the players prepare in order to be ready for the playoffs and for the state tournament. Equally important to preparing for the state tournament is how the team performs during the games.
“We do spend a lot of time on film and videos, and we know our opponents really well, and I think that we get the edge there,” Munsen said. “I have the kids study the film. It’s like a class for them, because we quiz them. If they don’t pass, then they run during practice.”
Munsen said he doesn’t regret the five years that his team hasn’t made the state tournament, but he feels sorry for the kids who weren’t able to go during their senior years.
“My 1975 team was one of the best basketball teams I ever coached in all the years I’ve coached (at Mitchell),” Munsen said “We didn’t make it … but we had a great basketball team that year.”
This weekend, the Kernels will look to add to his collection of state titles and send out Munsen out on top.
“Just playing for (Munsen) and playing for the crowd in Mitchell has been awesome,” senior guard Tate Martin said. “Hopefully, we can get it done.”
Munsen’s state tournament appearances with the Mitchell boys’ basketball teamsfrom 1974-2012; (Place, state tournament record):
1974: third place, 2-1; 1975: didn’t qualify; 1976: fifth place, 2-1; 1977: sixth place, 1-2; 1978: fourth place, 1-2; 1979: didn’t qualify; 1980: fifth place, 2-1; 1981: didn’t qualify; 1982: didn’t qualify; 1983: third place, 2-1; 1984: first place, 3-0; 1985: first place, 3-0; 1986: first place, 3-0; 1987: third place, 2-1; 1988: second place, 2-1; 1989: fourth place, 1-2; 1990: first place, 3-0; 1991: first place, 3-0; 1992: fourth place 1-2; 1993: third place, 2-1; 1994: first place 3-0; 1995: seventh place, 1-2; 1996: first place, 3-0; 1997: first place, 3-0; 1998: fourth place, 1-2; 1999: second place, 2-1; 2000: fifth place, 2-1; 2001: sixth place, 1-2; 2002: didn’t qualify; 2003: sixth place, 1-2; 2004: third place, 2-1; 2005: first place,3-0; 2006: eighth place, 0-3; 2007: sixth place, 1-2; 2008: second place, 2-1; 2009: seventh place, 1-2; 2010: eighth place, 0-3; 2011 second place, 2-1.