Caelyn Valandra-Prue overcomes adversity to secure Player of the Year nomination

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WHITE RIVER, S.D. (KELO) — Our second nominee for the KELOLAND Media Group/Sanford Pentagon Girls Player of the Year is White River senior Caelyn Valandra-Prue.

Valandra-Prue will forever be cemented in South Dakota History as one of the state’s most prolific scorers, while also helping the Lady Tigers make program history.

A year after suffering a season ending knee injury, White River senior Caelyn Valandra-Prue helped lead the program to its first girls state basketball championship.

“I’ve always wanted to be a part of something like that ever since I was a little girl and to accomplish that my senior year was just the best thing that ever happened,” White River senior Caelyn Valandra-Prue said.

But still that injury remains fresh in Valandra-Prue’s mind.

“It was very scary moment. I kind of knew from the moment that it happened like what I did. I just didn’t want to admit to it,” Valandra-Prue said.

After getting over the pain, Valandra-Prue started to see the injury in a different light.

“I see it as a blessing in disguise. I don’t know what would have happened if I never went down because I’m way stronger, I’m way more mentally tough I think than I used to be,” Valandra-Prue said.

She would return to the court for the first time in nearly 11 months this past November.

“As soon as I like just got on the floor and started competing. All the feelings of nervousness and doubt just went away,” Valandra-Prue said.

Then Valandra-Prue was back to doing what she does best, producing, as she averaged more than 27 points per game during her senior season.

“She’s a four-time all-state basketball player, multi-time state champion on the track field. She’s just a phenomenal, phenomenal, once in a generation athlete,” White River Head Coach Jared Bouman said.

Even with missing most of her junior season, Valandra-Prue finishes her career as the eighth leading scorer in state history.

“I’m up there with one of the few greatest basketball players that have ever played in South Dakota. It really means a lot. I got to thank my team too because I couldn’t have done it without them,” Valandra-Prue said.

Valandra-Prue is set to continue her athletic career at the University of South Dakota as part of the Coyotes’ track and field program.

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