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BOYS' BASKETBALL: G-H-EC's Garry caps storied career

MINNEAPOLIS -- Tim Garry finished his high school career on top -- in more ways than one.

A senior on Granada-Huntley-East Chain's boys' basketball team, Garry scored a game-high 25 points Saturday afternoon to lead the Mustangs in a 62-54 overtime victory over Ellsworth in the Class A championship game.

It was the first state title for Granada-Huntley-East Chain High School in any sport, and it came a year after the boys' basketball team made its first trip to the state tournament. G-H-EC lost to Ellsworth in the quarterfinals of the Class A tournament in 2008.

It's hard to imagine Garry having a better day on the basketball court. He went 10-for-13 from the field and added six rebounds, two assists and a steal in 38 minutes to help the Mustangs gain a measure of revenge against Ellsworth, cap the program's first undefeated season (29-0), win the first state title in the school's history, and finish No. 1 in the final Minnesota Basketball News poll.

It gets better.

Already the program's all-time leading rebounder, Garry entered Saturday needing just 10 points to become G-H-EC's all-time leading scorer. He passed the previous mark 3:58 into the second half on a 3-pointer from the top of the key. The trey immortalized Garry in the record books, and it also sparked a 20-9 run, which was capped by another 3-pointer by Garry, that gave the Mustangs their first lead of the game, 44-43, with 6:18 remaining.

"I don't think anything can take me down from where I'm at right now," Garry said. "Everything is still kind of sinking in."

Garry scored a combined 66 points on 28-of-47 shooting from the field and added 25 rebounds in the Mustangs' three-game run to the title. He was named to the Class A all-tournament team. More importantly, Garry spearheaded the Mustangs' comeback against Ellsworth on Saturday.

He virtually was a nonfactor in the first half, scoring just five points on 2-of-4 shooting from the field and 1-of-2 shooting from the free-throw line. His teammates shot a combined 5-for-20 (25 percent) from the field in the first half, and the Mustangs trailed 28-18 at the intermission.

Garry quickly asserted himself out of the break.

He drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key to open the second half, and he drilled another trey 3:39 later to cut the deficit to seven points. He missed a 3-pointer on G-H-EC's next possession, but it turned out to be his last miss of the game.

Garry swished a shot from beyond the arc with 10:53 remaining, sparking a 9-4 run that he capped with a tough jumper from the baseline to bring the Mustangs to within one, 40-39, with 8:05 remaining.

Fewer than two minutes later, Garry drilled another trey from the top of the key to give the Mustangs their first lead of the game, 44-43, with 6:18 remaining.

The lead changed hands three times in the next 1:44, with Matt Buntjer scoring on an assist from Tom Nolte to give the Panthers a 47-46 advantage with 4:34 remaining. But Garry answered 16 seconds later on a driving layup -- his second and final basket from inside the paint in the game.

Garry rarely attacked Ellsworth's 6-foot-9 junior center, Trevor Gruis, who sagged back in the paint for much of the game to protect the rim, daring Garry and 6-foot-2 forward Tyler Harder to shoot from the outside. It worked in the first half, but it backfired in the second. Garry went 4-for-5 shooting from beyond the arc, setting another milestone in his storied varsity career, which began when he was an eighth-grader.

"I've never shot that well from 3-point range in my entire life," Garry said. "I've never hit more 3s in a game."

Said G-H-EC coach Robbin Celander: "A lot of people don't realize he can shoot. He shot a few 3s throughout the year, and if they're not going to come out and guard him, he'll shoot it."

Garry's hot shooting from the outside, along with the Mustangs' 1-2-2 half-court defense, which pressured the Panthers into nine turnovers, helped G-H-EC complete the comeback and send the game into overtime.

"We've been down before this year, but we try to stay cool and keep our composure -- especially going into halftime," Garry said. "Maybe if it gets down there to five minutes left in the game and we're down 10, then we have something to worry about. But we like to score points in a hurry, and that 1-2-2 press really helped us out quite a bit."

Garry picked up right where he left off in the extra session.

He drilled a jumper on the first possession of overtime, and he rattled in a baseline jumper 1:44 later to cap a 5-0 run.

Minutes later, Garry celebrated the first state title in the history of Granada-Huntley-East Chain High School, which has just 110 students in grades 9-12. He went 8-for-9 shooting from the field, including 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, after halftime. He was all smiles while collecting his all-tournament team trophy, his championship medal and the Class A championship trophy in front of a raucous black-and-gold-clad crowd that made the trip from southern Minnesota to witness Garry make individual and team history.

Not a bad way to go out.