Kernels look to stay consistent at stateMitchell senior guards Matt Henriksen and Tate Martin agree their team has been inconsistent at times this season.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
By LUKE HAGEN
The Daily Republic
Mitchell senior guards Matt Henriksen and Tate Martin agree their team has been inconsistent at times this season.
The Kernels, who hold the second seed at this week’s Class AA state basketball tournament, have shown flashes of brilliance during games. They’ve also sputtered in contests — specifically in the second quarter — and looked nothing like the 19-3 team they are going into the state tournament.
At 6 p.m. MDT (7 p.m. CDT) on Thursday, the Kernels open their state tournament run against Sioux Falls Roosevelt (12-11) in a first-round matchup. For Mitchell to be in title contention when Saturday arrives, the team will need to avoid its sometimes inconsistent play.
“There are times when we get mentally fatigued,” said Henriksen, who is averaging 8.3 points per game. “Then, we kind of give up and go through the motions, but I think we’ll be able to play a full game.”
A perfect example of Mitchell’s inconsistent play this season was its back-to-back games against Aberdeen Central. During the first round of the District 3AA tournament, the Kernels scored five second-quarter points to let Aberdeen back in the game. Mitchell defeated Aberdeen by 15 points and eventually opened the game in the fourth quarter.
Seven days earlier, Mitchell’s offense was rolling in its regular-season finale against Aberdeen. The Kernels scored 16 points in the first quarter, 14 in the third and 17 in the fourth quarter in a 67-54 win.
One of Mitchell’s most surprisingly inefficient quarters this year was its three-point second quarter against Brookings. The game was Mitchell’s most recent and third loss of the year. The Kernels also had one point in the second quarter in an overtime win over Brandon Valley in January.
“I think when we go inconsistent, it’s because of the preparation before the game,” Martin said. “We’re not focused. If we’re all ready before the game, we’re usually good. … If we get ready before games at the state tournament, we’ll be all right.”
Roosevelt coach Lee Taylor said he sees Mitchell and Sioux Falls O’Gorman, the tournament’s top seed, as the favorites of this weekend’s tournament. Taylor added his team will look to take advantage of Mitchell’s sometimes inconsistent play and attack on the offensive end with a fast-offensive tempo.
“We have to take advantage of the opportunities when Mitchell isn’t playing at its best,” Taylor said. “That gives you a chance against a really good team like Mitchell.”
Roosevelt is led by 6-foot-1 junior guard Tyler Howard, who averages 13.8 points per game. Taylor said juniors Nate Cole and Jeremiah Clark average about 10 points per game and help keep the team’s offense going.
Mitchell and Roosevelt did not play during the regular season, but Taylor said he’s been impressed with Mitchell’s half-court offense. The Kernels have had the same starting lineup for 20 of the team’s 22 games this year and are led by Tucker Volesky’s 15 points per game. Brady Maxwell is averaging 13 points and 7.3 rebounds per game and Jade Miller is averaging 12.4 points per game.
Martin — who averages 7 points per game — said he expects Maxwell and Miller, both forwards, to have big games against the Rough Riders.
“They’re a small team,” Martin said. “They’ve got some good guards that can match up with us, but if we can shut them down we’ll be good.”
Taylor said one of his team’s top goals to slow Mitchell’s offense will be going after Martin.
“Watching him in person, the few games of theirs we have on film, he’s a really good point guard and a good leader,” Taylor said. “But he’s just one of their threats, though. You could pick any one of those seniors and they could hurt you and beat you.
“If we are fortunate enough to have Mitchell go through some offensive lulls, we’re going to have to take advantage and execute on our end.”