Kernels showing improvementAfter losing six straight games, the Mitchell High School boys’ basketball team broke the streak with not only one win, but two.
After losing six straight games, the Mitchell High School boys’ basketball team broke the streak with not only one win, but two.
The Kernels defeated Eastern South Dakota Conference teams against then-No. 3 Watertown 54-52 in overtime Thursday at the Corn Palace and Aberdeen Central 62-52 Saturday in Aberdeen. The back-to-back wins marked the second time this season the Kernels (5-13, 3-9 ESD) have put consecutive wins together.
Mitchell coach Tom Young said the positive difference in the most recent games is a result of several aspects, including the play of senior forward Josh Schmidt, who scored a season-high 20 points against the Golden Eagles, and the return of Seth Cavanaugh, who was out for five games due to a concussion.
“(Schmidt) not only improved offensively but defensively, he’s been doing a good job,” Young said. “Having Seth back gives us a little more leadership and poise on the floor and has made everybody better.
“The rest of the team has gradually progressed and being healthy has helped. In more than any game this year, our effort on both ends of the floor has been the best.”
With the combination of those components, the Kernels’ confidence may have taken a turn.
“My hope is that (our confidence) is definitely higher than it was early in the season,” Young said. “Seeing the kids enjoy the game and being excited after winning a few games is the biggest thing for me.”
Mitchell has several days of practice before its next game, which is against school and conference-rival Huron in its senior game at 4:45 p.m. Saturday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.
“If (the kids) use these two wins as an incentive to work harder than they have in the past, I think it will be a fun week in practice,” Young said.
The Kernels are in fourth place in the district and just behind Aberdeen Central (5-11, 5-9 ESD). In the Golden Eagles’ final three regular season games, they face three teams ranked in the South Dakota Sportswriters poll — No. 1 Sioux Falls Roosevelt, No. 4 Brandon Valley and No. 3 Pierre.
The Kernels play Huron and Yankton in their final two regular season games — both teams are unranked. If Mitchell wins one of the two games and Aberdeen Central goes winless to end the regular season, the Kernels will move into the third spot in the district.
Whatever the outcome, the Kernels will travel to play Pierre or Huron in the first round of district play.