SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Our final boys nominee for the KELOLAND Media Group/Sanford Pentagon Player of the Year award is De Smet junior Kalen Garry who helped lead the Bulldogs to their first state championship since 1999.
After falling just short of a state championship two seasons ago, and not having a state tournament last year due to the pandemic, the De Smet Bulldogs entered this season with some added motivation.
“Ever since that championship game we’ve had a chip on our shoulder that we want to get back to that championship game and hopefully win it,” De Smet junior Kalen Garry said.
After advancing to the Class B state tournament as the number one seed, the Bulldogs would once again find themselves playing for a state title.
“I think we were all nervous just because we were there again, but as soon as the tip ball went off and Ethan McCune got that first steal in the first possession, all my nerves went away and I was just playing ball,” Garry said.
Garry led all scorers with 23 points in the championship game, leading De Smet to its first state title in 22 years while capping off the championship run with a big time exclamation mark.
“That was my best moment in basketball. I don’t really remember it, I’ve watched the clip about a hundred times but I still don’t remember like really stealing the ball. I just remember screaming after the dunk and flexing all the way down the floor,” Garry said.
“To see those guys, that raw emotion and just the happiness when that game was winding down was, you know, just made it a great feeling,” De Smet Head Coach Jeff Gruenhagen said.
With a state championship and player of the year nomination in hand, the soon to be senior will look to build upon that this offseason.
“I need to work on my ball handling, defending, have quicker feet so I can defend better and faster kids and extend my shooting range, that’s for sure,” Garry said.
“He’ll keep pushing himself to keep growing and keep getting better and adjust to what teams do to try and limit his touches,” Gruenhagen said.
Garry averaged nearly 23 points and 7 rebounds per game this season, both team highs. He’s also De Smet’s all-time leading scorer with 1,615 points, eclipsing Matt Sutton’s previous mark.