Kernels looking for another shot at state championshipMitchell is hungry for another shot at a state championship game appearance, coach Gary Munsen said.
By: Claire Meador, The Daily Republic
Mitchell is hungry for another shot at a state championship game appearance, coach Gary Munsen said.
The school’s boys’ basketball team opened practice on Monday and has its first game at 7:30 p.m. in Huron on Dec. 9.
With the loss of Nick Young and Ryan Yackley, returning starters Tucker Volesky, Matt Henriksen and Jade Miller will see a lot of playing time this year. Seniors Brady Maxwell, Tate Martin, Brian Maxwell and Zach Bennett will also see playing time, said Munsen, who added he’s unsure of the starting lineup after only two days of practice.
Last year, Volesky, a 6-foot-4 forward starter, averaged 20 points and 5 rebounds per game and was also named The Daily Republic’s player of the year. Henriksen, who also started last year, is a 6-foot-1 senior guard who averaged 8 points per game. Miller averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds last season.
Although they didn’t start last year, 6-foot-7 forward Brady Maxwell, 6-foot-7 forward Brian Maxwell and 5-foot-11 guard Martin each averaged about 4 points and will be key additions to this year’s starting lineup.
Munsen said junior guard Seth Cavanaugh could see some time off the bench.
“For any of the juniors, it’s going to be tough to crack the lineup because we have a lot of kids back,” Munsen said.
Even though this year’s team has a solid roster going into the season, the Kernels have already been hit with injuries and illness.
Junior Josh Schmidt sustained an injury during the football season and will be out for the entire year. Freshman Beau Brown has a severe case of pneumonia and hasn’t been able to practice.
Munsen said that this year he expects more from the team than just hard work. The Kernels were the Class AA runner-up last season, losing to Sioux Falls O’Gorman in the state championship game.
“Even though we made it to the finals (last year) and we competed hard, we just weren’t mentally in the ballgame,” Munsen said about their loss to Sioux Falls O’Gorman.
Being mentally prepared will be just as important as being physically prepared if the Kernels want to win their first matchup against Huron.
“We do have some depth and they boys should be used to playing with each other and they know we have a tough schedule ahead of us,” Munsen said.
He also said it will be important for the team to beat Pierre, another top team in the district and Eastern South Dakota Conference, in order to get off on the right foot.
The team needs to be on the same page offensively and defensively so that it can figure what does and doesn’t work for them. Capitalizing off defensive mistakes is something that assistant coach Craig Mock stressed during Tuesday night’s practice.
As well as working on zone defense, Munsen said the team will also be working on their press offense during these next few practices to make sure the team knows exactly what they’re doing.
After the Kernels’ first game against Huron, they’ll have five games within the span of 11 days, just like an NBA schedule, Munsen said. In order to pull out wins against all those opponents, not only do they need to be physically fit, but mentally prepared as well, Munsen said.
“It takes awhile to get everything together,” he said, “even though we have 15, 16, 17 practices before our first game.”