DELL RAPIDS, S.D. (KELO) — Our first nominee for the KELOLAND Media Group/Sanford Pentagon Boys Player of the Year is Dell Rapids St. Mary’s Connor Libis. The senior finished as one of the state’s most prolific scorers, while also helping the Cardinals get back to the state tournament.

Connor Libis has played varsity basketball since he was in 7th grade.

“This has been about a third of my life from 12-18 you know, so this has been a major part of my life and I’ve been able to learn a lot,” Dell Rapids St. Mary senior Connor Libis said.

It was during his first season on varsity, that Libis built a connection with the team’s lone senior.

“When I was in seventh grade, there was one senior on the team, his name was Noah Fiegen, and I just want to thank him for accepting me on the team. He never raised an eyebrow and never said anything to coach about it. He accepted me under his wing and I’m eternally grateful for what he did, and it just gave me the ability to continue to learn and continue to be a better player,” Libis said.

With each passing year, Libis continued to improve, and so did the Cardinals, as they qualified for the state tournament for the first time in 16 years this season.

“It’s been a long battle. I mean, seventh grade year, we only had one win, we were 1-20 and to come here, play in the state tournament and be a part of that, I mean I think it is a testament to my teammates and being able to battle every year in and out and finally get to that point,” Libis said.

“We wanted to send out our seniors on a high note for all the hard work and dedication that they have given to the program. Not many teams can say that they finished their season on a win, let alone a 20 win season within our program. We have a lot to be proud of,” Dell Rapids St. Mary head coach Colby Fitzgerald said.

A fitting end for the third leading scorer in South Dakota boys basketball history.

“You never can ask too much of the kid. He’s always willing to go the extra mile for himself, his teammates and the team. He is a coach’s dream to have a kid like that in your program and we were fortunate to have him for a long time over the past six years,” Fitzgerald said.

Libis finishes his career with 2,731 points. He’ll continue his basketball career next year at Briar Cliff.