ABERDEEN, S.D. (KELO) — The last time the De Smet boys basketball team were on Don Meyer court at the Wachs Arena in Aberdeen was March 16, 2019. That night, the Bulldogs walked off the floor following a 48-41 loss to Clark/Willow Lake in the state championship.
Fast forward 733 days and the Bulldogs found themselves walking off the floor with a quarterfinal win over eighth-seeded Lower Brule, 80-53.
“That was a good team there (Lower Brule). We just had to play a full 32 minutes,” De Smet head coach Jeff Gruenhagen said.
The story of the game was the depth displayed by De Smet. Six Bulldog players finished with six or more points including four players who scored in double figures.
“Our balance is really good. We try to make that a focus on offense for us and you know Kalen (Garry) is going to get his shots,” Gruenhagen said. “Everybody else is willing to shoot the open basket and that’s what we always talk about is find that guy. If you win off the dribble and draw the double team, then you’ve got to be able to find that guy.”
Standout junior, Kalen Garry, led the way for De Smet who finished with a double-double of a game-high 24 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists.
“He was all over again. He tried to get to the rim and if he can’t get to the rim, then he can pull up and hit that shot,” Gruenhagen said. “He was relentless on the boards and going off stuff. He was on the floor after some loose balls, he just gets out and competes.”
The key to De Smet’s offensive success was simple… ball movement. The Bulldogs collected an impressive 21 assists, including a game high 8 assists from junior Rett Osthus.
“Guys were getting by and then drawing the next guy and we did a good job of moving it to one more guy,” Gruenhagen said. “I think all year our assist ratio has been really good and we’re just willing to find the guy that is open over taking the tough shot.”
Lower Brule was able to force De Smet into just 9 turnovers, but the key for the Bulldogs was to limit the points off turnovers. They did just that allowing zero.
The top-seeded Bulldogs will now move into the semifinal round which will be Friday night at 5:00 p.m. De Smet will meet either #4 Viborg-Hurley or #5 Lyman.
“I think we need to handle some pressure stuff and some situations when we have the lead and what we are going to do with it,” Gruenhagen said. “When people change from man to zone, we need to recognize quicker and figure what we are going to do with the basketball.”