HAGEN: Govs' size proves to be too much for KernelsMitchell coach Tom Young wanted to take away Pierre’s dominant players. That was the game plan anyway.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
Mitchell coach Tom Young wanted to take away Pierre’s dominant players.
That was the game plan anyway.
But when the dominant players also are extremely overpowering in size, it’s a battle that’s tough to win.
Tuesday night, the Governors showed off their size, defeating Mitchell 62-47 in an Eastern South Dakota Conference game at the Corn Palace.
Last week, the Kernels got their biggest win of the season, knocking off then-ranked No. 4 Brandon Valley on the road. Tuesday night, the No. 2-ranked Governors made sure Mitchell wouldn’t pick up its second straight victory over a ranked opponent.
Pierre, which came into the season ranked No. 1 in Class AA but dropped out of the poll for a few weeks, found easy looks inside throughout the ball game, mainly because of its height advantage. Led by a pair of Division I recruits, Pierre shot 60 percent from the field against the Kernels and led for nearly the entire game.
Creighton signee Zach Hanson, a 6-9 forward/center, finished with 12 points and six rebounds for the Governors, who lost four straight games in December by a combined 10 points. After the win over Mitchell, Hanson talked about the guard-heavy Mitchell roster, which has no starting player who’s taller than 6-3. He also explained how his team has been playing with more confidence after a double-overtime loss at the Mike Miller Classic against Our Savior New American, a team from New York.
Hanson and South Dakota State University signee Lane Severyn combined for 20 of Pierre’s first 35 points, helping their team to a 13-point halftime lead. In the second half, the size advantage really wore on the Kernels.
“I think we use our size to our benefit on defense and offense,” Hanson said. “It definitely helps us.
“If we play aggressive, not many teams can play with us or guard us.”
Midway through the third quarter, four Mitchell players rolled to guard Hanson in the post. But he kicked it out to Severyn, who put up a shot, got his own offensive rebound after a miss and tipped in the score. Hanson and Severyn also showed more of their game than just inside, stepping back for outside jumpers and moving the basketball to find open teammates.
“Hanson is just a load for us to handle, for any team really,” Young said. “That’s why those two players are going to Creighton and (South Dakota State). They are really talented in a lot of areas.”
Early in the fourth quarter, Severyn floated a contested shot over two Mitchell players but couldn’t find the bottom of the net. He sprung back up for an offensive rebound and tipped the shot in for another two points, finishing with a game-high 19.
And when Mitchell did a nice job defending Hanson and Severyn, it created open looks for the outside shooters, most notably Cody Honeywell. The 6-foot guard hit four 3-pointers for 12 points, demonstrating exactly how tough Pierre can be when firing on all cylinders.
So are there any teams in the state that can match up with Pierre?
“As far as size, I don’t think so,” Hanson said. “It’s a good advantage to have.”