Kernels beat Pierre to advance to Class AA title game with O'GormanRAPID CITY — Pierre boys’ basketball coach Terry Becker smiled and shook Gary Munsen’s hand.
By: Claire Meador, The Daily Republic
RAPID CITY — Pierre boys’ basketball coach Terry Becker smiled and shook Gary Munsen’s hand.
“You always get the best of me,” Becker said to Munsen — Mitchell’s head basketball coach — after the Kernels defeated Pierre 55-47 Friday night.
Throughout the regular season, Pierre had gotten the best of Munsen and the Kernels, who lost two of their three games to Becker’s Governors.
But the biggest matchup of the year between the two teams came on Friday night, a semifinal matchup at the Class AA state tournament at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
Munsen and the Kernels (21-3) came ahead in the end, advancing to the state championship game against Sioux Falls O’Gorman at 9 p.m. Central time today. It’s a rematch of last year’s Class AA state championship game that the Knights won.
“I hope I feel as good as I do right now after we play O’Gorman,” Munsen said at a postgame press conference after his Kernels defeated Pierre.
Pierre beat Mitchell by nine points in the first matchup of the year. The second time, the Kernels lost by three. This time, the Kernels came out on top, but it was a back-and-forth battle.
Things started slow for the Kernels with missed baskets to open the game. Connor Berg and Joe Tetzlaff scored the first points for Pierre. Mitchell finally found some offensive rhythm and was able to end the quarter trailing by two points.
“We played for 32 minutes, but the first half we struggled,” Munsen said.
It was a battle of the defenses during the second quarter with each team blocking shots, making steals and not allowing momentum either way. Pierre was able to break away at the end of the half, pulling ahead by four points with seconds left to go in the second quarter. A foul on Mitchell’s Jade Miller sent him to the line with no time left on the clock, and he hit one free throw to bring the score to 20-17 going into halftime.
“In the first half, both defenses were out of control,” said Mitchell senior Brady Maxwell, who finished with a team-high 18 points and added five rebounds. “It was just solid all the way around. The second half, we got a feel of Pierre’s defense and what we needed to run on offense. It kind of opened up for both teams, but I think we just had the advantage.”
Lane Severyn opened the third quarter with a 3-point shot for Pierre, but Miller answered with a basket for the Kernels. The Governors extended the lead to seven points around the five-minute mark. A 3-point shot made by Tucker Volesky followed by two more 3-pointers from Maxwell sparked the Kernels and switched the momentum, and the Kernels took the lead at the end of the third quarter 38-35.
“I thought, here we go,” Maxwell said after he made the second 3-pointer. “This is the state tournament. This is the time where you need to make those shots and you can’t be afraid to pull the trigger. I pulled the trigger, and they went in.”
Pierre started the fourth quarter with a basket from Zach Hanson, who was injured earlier in the regular season but came off the bench and scored 13 points for the game.
The teams went back and forth in the last quarter, and it wasn’t until the final minutes of the game that Mitchell was able to pull away and secure the lead.
Matt Henriksen, Volesky and Maxwell went to the free-throw line at the end of the game to increase the lead to 10, bringing the score to 55-47 with about a minute left in the game.
The Governors scored a last bucket before the buzzer rang, but Mitchell got the win over the Governors when it mattered the most.
“We just were a lot smarter in the second half,” Munsen said. “And we made our free throws down the stretch. I think we hit eight free throws in a row there at the end.”
Henriksen scored 15 points and had seven rebounds and Miller added 13 points and nine rebounds. The Kernels shot 20-of-45 from the field for 44 percent and went 10-of-15 from the free-throw line for 66 percent. The Kernels lost the rebounding battle 37-30.
Severyn added 10 points and 15 rebounds and Connor Berg had nine points. The Governors shot 18-of-53 from the field for 34 percent and went 10-of-16 from the free-throw line for 62 percent
MITCHELL 55, PIERRE 47
Maxwell 7-8 2-2 18, Martin 0-4 0-0 0, Miller 6-13 1-5 13, Cavanaugh 1-2 0-0 2, Volesky 2-10 2-2 7, Henriksen 4-8 5-6 15. Totals: 20-45 10-15 55.
Pochop 0-2 0-0 0, Adam 1-3 1-2 3, Monfore 0-3 0-0 0, Berg 4-6 1-2 9, Severyn 3-18 3-4 10, Hanson 5-11 3-4 13, Tetzlaff 3-5 2-4 8, Walton 2-5 0-0 4. Totals: 18-53 10-16 47.
Mitchell 7 17 38 55
Pierre 9 20 35 47
3-pointers: Mitchell 5-14 (Maxwell 2, Volesky 1, Henriksen 2), Pierre 1-14 (Severyn 1). Rebounds: Mitchell 30 (Miller 9), Pierre 37 (Severyn 15). Assists: Mitchell 16 (Miller 4, Henriksen 4), Pierre 13 (Severyn 4). Total fouls: Mitchell 11, Pierre 18.