HAGEN: Young Kernels ‘weather the storm’ in title winBROOKINGS — Wes Morgan continued to call timeouts, and the message was the same. It’s the same thing he has told his team all year, and it’s a saying he’ll keep in his pocket until he quits coaching.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
BROOKINGS — Wes Morgan continued to call timeouts, and the message was the same.
It’s the same thing he has told his team all year, and it’s a saying he’ll keep in his pocket until he quits coaching.
“I just told them that we’ve got to weather the storm and do what we do,” said Morgan, who won his first state title as a coach when the Kernels defeated Sioux Falls Washington 56-54 Saturday in Brookings. “We had to adapt, overcome and do what’s comfortable.”
On two occasions in Saturday’s Class AA state championship game, the Mitchell girls’ basketball team surrendered large leads. In both instances, Morgan called timeout and rallied his team.
“Weather the storm” has been a metaphor Morgan has used often this year, meaning his team fought through adversity during a hard point in a game.
On Saturday, Washington — a team that starts three seniors — went on two large runs in the second half that would have scared most young teams into panic.
It didn’t faze the Kernels.
“We got down on ourselves a little bit, but that didn’t stop us,” Mitchel senior Dana Misiaszek said. “We came back stronger and weathered the storm.”
With 6:06 to go in the third quarter, Mitchell led by 11. The Kernels saw that lead vanish in five minutes when Washington went on a 12-2 run. The Kernels started the fourth quarter fast, but they saw a nine-point lead evaporate in four minutes.
After each Washington run, Morgan called a timeout and reminded his team to stay calm and weather the storm. The Warriors pulled within one point after both runs but never took the lead.
Mitchell got key buckets and fought through hardship twice en route to the title, and what was most impressive in Mitchell’s 24-1 record this season was how many times it was able to battle adversity with such a youthful team.
Mitchell’s best offensive player of the state tournament was sophomore Macy Miller. She was named to the all-tournament team and averaged 20 points per game, leading the Kernels in scoring all three games.
Miller was a constant scoring threat for Mitchell this season after returning from a knee injury that was initially thought to keep her out all year. Aside from Miller, the Kernels got pleasant surprises from Megan Farnham and Kristin Sabers Saturday.
Both juniors hit big 3-point shots that swung momentum in the Kernels’ favor throughout the game. Junior Kerri Young was held to nine points, well off her season average of 19.6 points per game, but Farnham and Sabers came up big on the championship stage.
“Sabers didn’t hit many 3-pointers this year, and she banged one in from the corner that was huge,” said Morgan, referring to a 3-point shot with 50 seconds left in the game that gave the Kernels a two-possession lead.
“We talk about Megan (Farnham) being good defensively, and she was good offensively for us,” Morgan added. “You talk about Kerri being offensive, and she was good defensive for us. When one girl goes down on this team, another steps in.”
Sabers and Farnham each had nine points and the combined for 16 rebounds. Young had 10 boards.
All season long, the players on Mitchell’s team haven’t cared who scores the points or gets the ball in the clutch. And that was the way it was in Saturday’s championship.
Mitchell continued its season-long unselfish play, weathered the storm through tough times and won a state title. Morgan said to expect the same thing next year.
“The best part about this team is we can keep getting better,” he said. “We have a lot to look forward to.”