Over the next two weeks, we’ll introduce you to our nominees for the Sanford Pentagon/KELOLAND Media Group Player of the Year awards. This week, we’ll spotlight five girls, beginning with Ethan senior Karly Gustafson, who rewrote the Rustler record books during her storied career.
Karly Gustafson posted nearly 1,900 points and 800 rebounds during her high school career, but her game remains a work in progress, as she continues to expand her skill set through hard work.
“Put in the time, especially this last year, with it being my senior year I wanted to go all out, especially in the off-season and during the season putting in the time before and after school,” Ethan senior Karly Gustafson said.
“She spent countless, countless hours in the off-season, in fact the last couple off-seasons, but this year even more-so working on her perimeter game and working on her shot,” Ethan head coach Tom Young said.
Gustafson averaged 20 points per game during her senior season and played in a fifth straight state “B” tournament. The six-foot forward now has her sights set on college and has narrowed her list of options to Dakota Wesleyan, Dordt, and Northwestern.
“I think it’s going to be different at first, but then again I’m just playing basketball, so it’s not going to be that big of a difference. But, I think it’ll be an adjustment to see where I’ll go with my collegiate career,” Gustafson said.
“Many, many, many times I’ve had to stop her and tell her that she needs to be more aggressive, to look to score than pass, but she’s definitely a pass first player. I think she’s going to fit in wherever she goes,” Young said. “I believe shooters aren’t born, they’re made, and Karly’s one that made herself a shooter,” Young added.
Sinking shot after shot after shot helped earn Gustafson her spot in our final five.
“It’s definitely an honor to even be recognized for this award just because I’ve seen so many other players get it and it’s just kind of a cool award, so yeah, I’m definitely honored to even be up for it,” Gustafson said.
Ethan lost to De Smet in the class “B” championship game. Gustafson had 12 points and 12 rebounds, and was named the Spirit of Su Award winner.
We’ll unveil the Player of the Year at the All-Star Banquet on Saturday, March 30th at the Sanford Pentagon. Former NBA player Kenyon Martin will be the keynote speaker. The banquet starts at 7:00, and is free and open to the public.