Class AA state tournament: Munsen calls field extremely talentedThe Mitchell boys’ basketball team could have been the top seed going into the state tournament if it hadn’t played Larry Luitjens and the Custer Wildcats during the Mike Miller Classic on Dec. 29 at the Corn Palace.
By: Claire Meador, The Daily Republic
The Mitchell boys’ basketball team could have been the top seed going into the state tournament if it hadn’t played Larry Luitjens and the Custer Wildcats during the Mike Miller Classic on Dec. 29 at the Corn Palace.
Custer is a Class A team, so Mitchell did not receive any seeding points for its win over the Wildcats in December.
Instead, Mitchell is the No. 2 seed headed into the tournament.
The Kernels (19-3) will face off against Sioux Falls Roosevelt (12-11) for their first game of the state tournament at 7 p.m. CDT today at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City. It’s the lone game the Kernels are worried about right now, but Mitchell boys’ basketball coach Gary Munsen said this year’s field is extremely talented.
Two of the Kernels’ losses have come against Pierre, and the other was against Brookings. Both teams qualified for the tournament.
Munsen said any of his team’s losses could have been wins, which would have given the Kernels more seeding points and allowed them to be the No. 1 seed.
Munsen said the team doesn’t know much about Sioux Falls Roosevelt besides seeing the Rough Riders’ matchup against Findlay Prep (Nev.) at the Mike Miller Classic in December, and that 35-point loss did not dignify Roosevelt as a team, Munsen said.
“All in all, it doesn’t make a difference if you play (Sioux Falls) Roosevelt, (Sioux Falls) O’Gorman or whoever,” Munsen said. “You have to be ready to play and not worry about who you’re going to play on Friday night. If you’re thinking about who you’re going to play on Friday night, you’ll be playing Friday afternoon. I’ve been in enough state tournaments to know that’s the way it is.”
Pierre (16-7) is seeded third and plays Huron (14-9) in a first-round game. If Mitchell wins or loses tonight against Roosevelt, it will play Huron or Pierre, both fellow Eastern South Dakota Conference and District 3AA rivals.
Munsen said Mitchell’s district was extremely competitive this year and full of talented teams. He added it will be a difficult matchup no matter who his team plays.
The Kernels have a good record against Huron this year, beating the Tigers three times, including a nine-point win in the District 3AA championship game. Mitchell’s only games against Pierre were the two losses in regular-season play.
“Double-A basketball is so comparable this year,” Munsen said. “If we had the same team we had last year playing this year, we’d have a lot more losses, I can tell you that.”
Senior guard Matt Henriksen agreed, saying that the Kernels aren’t thinking about anything besides their first game.
“We’re not even thinking about that right now,” Henriksen said of getting another chance to play Pierre or Sioux Fall’s O’Gorman, the team the Kernels lost to in last year’s Class AA state championship. “(We’re thinking about) one team at a time, and we’re going to play Roosevelt for the first game. That’s all we’re focused on.”
Even though the Kernels are focused on Roosevelt and their first game today, they have stiff competition that will be playing alongside them in the opening round of the state tournament.
Sioux Falls O’Gorman, the number one seed, is led by Connor Schaefbauer a 6-foot senior guard who helped his team to an 18-4 record this season. O’Gorman plays eighth-seeded Rapid City Central at 1 p.m. Central time today.
Jake Lewis, a 6-foot senior guard, and Robert Connot, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, are looking to lead Central to its first Class AA title.
Brookings and Sioux Falls Washington are set to face off today at 2:45 p.m. Central time. Brookings is being led by senior Tanner Odegaard, a 5-foot-10 senior guard, and Landon Busch, a 6-foot-2 senior guard. The two seniors helped their team to a 15-8 record. Sioux Falls Washington (14-7) is led by 5-foot-8 senior guard Joey Habtemariam.
Pierre and Huron will play the last game of the night at 8:45 p.m. Central time tonight.