Kernels fall to Lincoln in title gameRAPID CITY – Wes Morgan couldn’t count the amount of times his team put up a shot to watch the ball hobble around the rim and fall out.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
RAPID CITY — Wes Morgan couldn’t count the amount of times his team put up a shot only to watch it hobble around the rim and fall out.
“Sometimes, they just don’t fall,” the Mitchell High School girls’ basketball coach said.
The Kernels scored a season-low in points, shot 27 percent from the field and watched as two Sioux Falls Lincoln sophomores knocked down basket after basket.
In a chance to defend their Class AA state championship, the Kernels lost to the Patriots 51-36 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Morgan called it “one of the toughest losses” he’s suffered since becoming the team’s coach.
“Only because I couldn’t put my finger on what would make us go,” Morgan said.
Mitchell senior forward Kristin Sabers knocked down the first bucket of the game on the opening possession, but the 2-0 score was the only time the Kernels led.
Mitchell players worked hard in the lane through the course of the game, putting up contested floaters that found the rim. Few seemed to find the bottom of the net.
Meanwhile, Lincoln’s outside jumpers set up its inside game.
Lincoln’s advantage grew slowly as the game went on. Lincoln sophomore Ellie Brecht swished a pair of 3-pointers and added another deep jumper in the first quarter for eight of her game-high 19 points. The Patriots led by four after the first and built the lead to 10 by halftime.
Mitchell scored four points in the second quarter, a season low, and the Patriots got a pair of 3-pointers and another deep jumper from sophomore Sydney Miller, who finished with 11. Lincoln’s other major scoring threat in the game, Cera Ledbetter, added a fast-break bucket at the end of the half that gave the Patriots momentum rolling into the second half.
“Our kids were ready to play,” Lincoln coach Lyle Pearson said. “You didn’t see the jitters out there that you do sometimes.”
Mitchell’s Courtney Moore had two early baskets in the third quarter to keep the team within striking distance. Two Macy Miller baskets and a Kerri Young free throw pulled Mitchell within six, 30-24, with 3:44 left to play in the third quarter. But Ledbetter scored six of Lincoln’s next eight points, spanning into the fourth quarter, and the Kernels trailed by double digits for the rest of the game.
Young had a game-high 13 points for Mitchell, which was 3-of-12 from behind the three-point line and was outrebounded 34-28.
“We didn’t have the intensity and our shots weren’t going in,” said Miller, who had eight points and seven rebounds. “And they were making everything. Everything was going right for them.”
Ledbetter hit several timely shots for Lincoln, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Hugunin had five of the team’s 16 assists, and the Patriots hit 47 percent from the field.
Mitchell (22-4) was looking to earn its first repeat state championships in girls’ basketball, but instead the Lincoln girls (17-8) won their first-ever title in the sport.
“I think we were up-tempo, but our shots weren’t falling down quite as well,” Sabers said. “The shots weren’t falling down right away and we kind of hung our heads a little bit.”
SF LINCOLN 51, MITCHELL 36
MITCHELL (22-4): Farnham 0-6 0-0 0, Michels 0-1 0-0 0, Miller 3-15 2-2 8, Moore 3-4 0-0 6, Volesky 1-2 0-0 2, Young 4-16 3-4 13, Sabers 3-8 0-0 7. Totals:14-52 5-6 36.
SF LINCOLN (17-8): Miller 4-6 0-0 11, Hugunin 3-8 1-1 7, Merritt 0-3 0-0 0, Standing Soldier 0-3 0-0 0, Brecht 7-12 0-0 19, Pierson 1-1 0-0 2, Ricke 0-1 0-0 0, Ledbetter 6-11 0-2 12. Totals: 21-45 1-3 51.
Mitchell 11 15 24 36
SF Lincoln 15 25 32 51
3-pointers: Mitchell 3-12 (Farnham 0-1, Miller 0-1, Moore 0-1, Young 2-5, Sabers 1-4), SFL 8-17 (Miller 3-4, Hugunin 0-2, Merritt 0-3, Standing Soldier 0-1, Brecht 5-7). Rebounds: Mitchell 28 (Miller 7), SFL 34 (Ledbetter 10). Assists: Mitchell 4 (Farnham 2), SFL 16 (Hugunin 5). Total fouls: Mitchell 9, SFL 9. Fouled out: None.