Garney Henley, from Hayti, South Dakota, played high school basketball for the Redbirds from 1952-1955. He can’t remember a day when he didn’t play basketball because he started playing competitively in grade one. In high school, Garney earned the respect of his coaches, teammates, and competitors. He excelled in the game in every way; scoring, rebounding, ball handling and passing. But at 5’11”, Garney’s ability to out-jump opponents who were 6’4” and taller solidified his statewide reputation. Most importantly, Garney was an inspirational leader and a very determined competitor.
Garney became the second player in history to start four years in a row in the South Dakota State B Basketball Tournament. He helped the Redbirds advance to four consecutive State B Tournaments and three championship rounds, winning their first ever State B Championship in 1954 against Provo. In 1952, the Redbirds lost the Championship game to Ipswich by 5 points and in 1955 in the championship game they were defeated by White River by one point, in the first ever overtime in a championship game. Craig Staltz of the Argus Leader stated that, “Garney Henley was the best Class B Tournament player of all time”.
Henley set the all-time State B Tournament record of 71 points in 1955. He also broke the single game scoring State Tournament record with 27 points against Waubay, in the days before the 3 pointer. Garney made 1st Team All-State in 1954 and 1955, and 2nd Team All-State in 1953. In all, Henley helped Hayti to a 127 wins and 14 loses during his four year high school career. He was coached by Jim Markings, a brilliant
teacher of the game, and was surrounded by exceptional teammates.