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Mitchell junior Jaron Weich drives to the basket during an Eastern South Dakota Conference boys’ basketball game against Pierre Friday in Pierre. (Wade LaRoche/Capital Journal)

Kernel boys fall to Pierre in season opener

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BY WADE LaROCHE

Capital Journal

PIERRE — It certainly didn’t have the pace of a typical Eastern South Dakota Conference slugfest, but the Pierre Governors started their season off with a win against Mitchell Friday.

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The Governors defeated the Kernels 76-61 in Pierre in what was the season opener for both teams.

The teams wasted little time getting up and down the court as the shot clock was never a factor in the up-tempo contest. For both teams, that pace was the exactly what they were looking for in game one of the season.

“We don’t want the 40-30 win that some ESD games can bring,” Mitchell head coach Erik Skoglund said. “We want to get up and go. I don’t think you can get kids excited to work out all summer just to get up a few shots. We want to build a program that can get the kids excited.”

The Governors were looking to establish their speed early, but they also went back to their bread and butter from the past few seasons — an effective post game. With Zach Hanson playing for Creighton, Cooper Walton was called upon to shoulder that load, and he got going early with Pierre’s first six points.

Despite Walton’s fast start, the Kernels matched Pierre’s every punch with one of their own. The Governors jumped out to a 15-9 lead midway through the first quarter with a dish from Garrett Pochop to Brevin Kaiser, but Derek Miller countered with a three.

The Governors later seemed poised to take a six-point lead into the second quarter, until Beau Brown hit a tough three as the buzzer sounded to cut Pierre’s lead in half. Brown provided the Kernels with some timely shooting early, part of his team-high 14-point output.

“Beau is such a competitor. The mistakes he makes are aggressive mistakes. He’s our catalyst, and he will get better as the season goes on,” Skoglund said.

The buzzer beater swayed momentum as the Kernels jumped out to a 6-0 run to begin the second quarter and took the lead. The run included a 3-pointer by Carter Brewster.

The run ended when Kaiser found Max Seward for a score, and the Governors never looked back after taking the lead with a three by Christopherson. Pochop added a three and another score to give the Governors a six-point advantage, which was the spread at the half.

“That’s the way it goes in high school basketball,” Governor head coach Terry Becker said. “Teams are going to make runs, and things can get worse if you meltdown. We’ve seen teams hit shots at the end of quarters before, and we reacted appropriately.”

The Governors doubled their lead in the third quarter and much of that had to do with turnovers and rebounding. Pierre won the turnover battle 13-7, and collected 22 offensive rebounds compared to Mitchell’s five.

“Rebounding well will help us be a good team,” Becker said. “We’re going to have to work a little harder on the glass this year. We had people who were more natural on the glass last year, but this year, we will have to get a body on people and be more fundamental.”

The Kernels will look to correct some of the opening game mistakes, but don’t expect a different brand of play.

“We can drop our turnovers, but that means we’re going to walk it up the floor and slow down,” Skoglund said. “That’s not how we’re going to play. We’re just going to try to play smarter. Part of that was bad spacing, and we can definitely fix that. The game was just moving too fast for some of the guys.”

The Governors also showcased their sheer depth in the third quarter as Kaiser, Severyn, Rabern and Trey Livermont each pitched in to Pierre’s six-point advantage during the quarter.

The Governors were really never challenged in the fourth quarter as Brown cut the deficit to single digits midway through the quarter, but Christopherson answered with one of his five 3-pointers in the win, finishing with 15 points.

Kaiser was the Governors’ leading scorer as he earned his first career double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Severyn also scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds for Pierre.

Mitchell’s Miller finished with 13 points and Kanin Nelson added 10. Brown also brought down 10 rebounds, opening his junior season with a double-double.

The Kernels will look to get back to .500 when they host Harrisburg Tuesday. The ESD contest tips off at 7 p.m. at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.

The Governors will also take on an ESD foe in their next matchup when they travel to Brandon Valley for a state championship game rematch.

Mitchell 61

Pierre 76

Mitchell (0-1, 0-1 ESD)

Jaron Weich 1-3 0-0 2; Derek Miller 4-7 2-2 13; Beau Brown 5-12 3-5; Neil Schlimgen 0-3 2-3 2; Kanin Nelson 2-10 5-7 10; Noah Thompson 0-0 0-0 0; Tyler Houwman 0-2 0-0 0; Connor Morgan 1-3 1-2 4; Ben Miller 0-0 0-0 0; Ryker Kreutzfeldt 0-0 0-0 0; arter Brewster 4-5 0-0 9; Ethan Jones 2-5 0-0 5; Keegan Soukup 0-0 0-0 0; Tyler Larson 0-0 0-0 0.

Pierre (1-0, 1-0 ESD)

Garrett Pochop2-11 1-3 6; Austin Christopherson 5-14 0-2 15; Charlie Anderson 0-0 0-0 0; Nick Rabern 3-12 1-4 8; Erin Severyn 5-10 0-0 10; Ethan Leif 0-1 0-2 0; Cody Somsen 1-1 0-0 2; Trey Livermont 1-1 0-0 3; Travis Barton 1-2 0-3 2; Daly Beck 0-0 0-0 0; Max Seward 1-2 0-1 2; Brevin Kaiser 7-14 5-7 19; Cooper Walton 4-13 1-2 9.

M 16 30 45 61

P 19 36 57 76

3-point field goals: M 8-22 (Derek Miller 3), P 8-18 (Christopherson 5). Rebounds: M 26 (Brown 10), P 43 (Kaiser 10). Assists: M 6 (Brown 2, Schlimgen 2), P 15 (Pochop 4, Rabern 3). Steals: M 4 (four players with 1), P 9 (Severyn 2, Leif 2). Turnovers: M 13 (Brewster 3, Derek Miller 3), P 7 (Barton 2). Personal fouls: M 21, P 18.

Subvarsity scores

JV: Pierre won 83-47.

Sophomores: Mitchell won 60-54.

Freshmen A: Mitchell 55-48.

Freshmen B: Pierre 72-34.

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