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Cold second half dooms Kernels

Leah Rado/Republic Mitchell's Kendra Knight puts up a shot as Huron's Lavin Stahl defends Friday night at the Corn Palace.

For about a 10-minute stretch in the second half, the hoop was the size of a golf hole for the Mitchell girls' basketball team Friday night against Huron.

After the Kernels shut down Huron for only four first-quarter points, the Tigers rallied from the third quarter on -- including an 18-2 run in the second half -- to pull away from the Kernels 56-44 Friday night at the Corn Palace.

"Things that happened for us tonight are very uncharacteristic for us, and we just ran into a cold spell," Kernels' head coach Wes Morgan said. "All year we've been shooting about 30 percent from three, and all of the sudden we're shooting 15 percent, and I don't know why."

Mitchell shot 30 percent from the field in the game, including 3-of-17 from behind the 3-point line, and the cold spell started after Whitney Morgan pulled the Kernels within three points at 6:06 in the third quarter.

For then on, Mitchell didn't hit another field goal until 3:35 in the fourth quarter, while Huron knocked down back-to-back threes by Taylor Carlson and Lacey Stahl. Then, the Tigers worked inside, getting to the free-throw line eight times.

"They missed some shots in the second half and we got some box outs," Huron coach Allen Steffen said. "Our inside game was getting some buckets."

Added Morgan: "The second half the kids wanted to just get out and run with them. I'm telling them we've got to slow down, be methodical about it and take your time. It was lack of patience."

The Tigers pulled out to their largest lead of 21 points two different times, and then Mitchell's offense picked up again, though it was too late.

The Kernels got within 11 points with a little over a minute remaining with help from Taylor Piper, who hit two baskets with the foul in the final three minutes.

"Mitchell is a lot improved from the last time we played them," Steffen said. "They're doing some good things, but the bottom line was we got done what we needed to get done by keeping some pressure on them."

The first quarter belonged to Mitchell, and the Kernels looked as if they may pull off an upset early.

Piper had Mitchell's first basket of the night on a move inside and recording the foul for the 3-point play.

Whitney Morgan and Kendra Knight hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the final three minutes of the first quarter, and Knight knocked down a 10-foot jumper with 40 seconds on the clock to give Mitchell a seven-point lead.

Huron pulled ahead in the second quarter on 8-0 run, but Mitchell's offense traded baskets with the Tigers, and the Kernels never found themselves down farther than five points.

"I thought defensively we played really well, and we had them right where we wanted them in the first half," Morgan said. "Our game plan was to push, then slow it down and run the offense."

For Mitchell, Knight had eight of her team-leading 11 points before halftime, Whitney Morgan finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds and Way had seven points and 11 rebounds.

Huron's Mandi Robish and Carlson each had seven points in the first half, as Robish finished with 10 points and Carlson had eight points. But it was the Stahl sisters who dominated in the second half.

Lacey Stahl finished with a team-high 11 points and Lavin had 10 points, and they combined for 14 in the second half.

Huron is now 7-9 and hosts Sioux Falls Roosevelt Tuesday, while Mitchell is 4-11 and is in the middle of its three-game home stand today, as it hosts Aberdeen at 5:30 p.m.