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Luke Hagen/Republic Mitchell's Whitney Morgan puts up a shot in the first half of Thursday's game against Yankton at the Corn Palace.

Kernels beat Yankton in most complete game of season

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Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

The Mitchell girls' basketball team played its most complete game of the season Thursday night against Yankton, according to head coach Wes Morgan. The Kernels defeated the Gazelles, 52-41, at the Corn Palace, grabbing their second win of the season and keeping the Gazelles winless at 0-5.

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Mitchell withstood a 12-3 Yankton run that started in the third quarter and ended early in the fourth, which pulled the Gazelles within two.

Kernels' sophomore Courtney Miller hit back-to-back shots at the 5-minute mark in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer she dropped from the top of the arc and a layup on a fast break, which were her only points of the night.

"We had that timeout," Morgan said. "I told the kids, 'It's a game of spirits. They had their run, now we'll have ours. Put your foot on the gas and don't let up.' "

The quick five-point swing gave Mitchell a seven point lead, and on its next possession, Caitlin Way dropped a floater in, after weaving and ducking her way through the lane, giving Mitchell a comfortable nine-point lead with less than three minutes to go.

Yankton started its run with about four minutes remaining in the third quarter. A collage of Gazelle scorers, including Christine Broders, Stacie Wieseler, Chloe Cornemann and Laura Ekeren, worked together while Mitchell had three straight turnovers.

Broders and Wieseler each drove low into the basket, receiving fouls and scoring at the free-throw line, and Cornemann and Ekeren hit jumpers.

Cornemann hit an 8-foot jumper to open the fourth and Elly Smith grabbed her own rebound and floated in the put back to get Yankton within two.

Then, to stop the bleeding, Miller hit on the Kernels' next two possessions, and Mitchell held on for the win.

"Momentum turned just like that," Yankton head coach Doug Pesicka said. "Basketball's a funny game. Things seemed to be going our way, but then Mitchell made some plays and changed the tide of the game."

Cornemann led the Gazelles with 14 points, and Broders was the team's next highest scorer with eight.

Added Morgan on Miller's shots: "That stopped their run right there," Morgan said. "She's not going to amaze you, but she's a good solid kid who's going to do some good things."

The game opened with teams exchanging baskets. Way had eight points after the first quarter, as she showed many different skills on three-straight possessions, giving Mitchell an early 10-6 lead.

Way said it was her best overall game she's played this season, finishing with a team-high 16 points and tied for a team-high with six rebounds.

"I was open and my teammates got me the ball," Way said. "Then I just started knocking down my shots. Usually, I'll get some of those looks, but I won't knock them down."

Yankton tried a full-court press on the Kernels throughout the game, which worked at times, but also gave Mitchell many fast-break points.

Cornemann hit a runner in the lane with the foul to open the second quarter, giving Yankton its only lead of the game at 16-15.

The Kernels' Taylor Overweg hit a 3-pointer on the team's next possession, and then Mitchell's Whitney Morgan took over. She finished the game with nine points and six rebounds, scoring five in the second. She battled Yankton's post players down low for rebounds, after the Gazelles dominated on offensive rebounds in the first quarter.

Pesicka said his team wasn't hitting on its looks throughout the game, finishing at 33 percent from the field. The Gazelles finished with only six points in the second quarter.

"We were able to get the ball in the post virtually whenever we wanted, and we had some good drives to the basket, but I thought we missed a ton of open shots and didn't finish around the basket," Pesicka added.

Yankton pulled within six at the half, when Cornemann hit a 15-foot jumper with about 25 seconds remaining. Then, early in the third, Mitchell pulled out to its biggest lead of the game at 11, when Way received a pass from senior point guard Kendra Knight in the lane. Knight finished with seven points and a game-high five assists.

"It was an overall pretty good effort," Morgan said. "Defensively, we got it done tonight, and that's probably the best game we've put together all season."

Mitchell hosts Brandon Valley at 7:30 p.m. today at the Corn Palace, hoping to grab its first back-to-back wins of the season.

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