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Kernels seal first-round home district game

Leah Rado/Republic Mitchell's Travis Salmonson goes up for a layup over two Yankton defenders including Travis Neukirch, front, Friday night at the Corn Palace.

On a night set aside for seniors, Mitchell senior Brett Young dropped 29 points on Yankton.

He finished 5-of-5 from behind the arc, 8-of-8 from the free-throw line and jump started the Kernel offense with 18 points before the half.

Young and Mitchell snapped Yankton's three-game win streak Friday night at the Corn Palace, 62-51, and wrapped up a first-round home district playoff game in the process.

"Brett's a good shooter," Kernels head coach Gary Munsen said. "We were a lot more patient on offense in the second half, because Young wasn't going to get the shots he did in the first, but it was a great victory for our kids."

The Kernels shot a red-hot 61 percent from the field in the first half and picked up its defense in the second half, forcing numerous late turnovers to seal the win.

Yankton, which was without its starting senior point guard Dylan Slate, trailed by as much as 15 points in the first half during Mitchell's offensive blast.

Young opened the game with back-to-back 3-pointers for Mitchell, which jumped to an 11-2 lead only three-and-a-half minutes into the game.

"Brett Young was outstanding in the first half offensively," Yankton head coach Randy Gross said. "We were playing man in the first half; we were playing zone, but we just couldn't stop them."

Mitchell senior Travis Salmonson had both of his scores in the second quarter. He knocked down a 15-foot jumper to pull the lead to 11, and then he got the lead out to 14 on a fast-break basket.

Yankton saw arguably its best three minutes of the game at the end of the first half when it went a 6-0 run. With three minutes left to play, the Bucks' Jordan Mueller had a basket with the foul for three of his team-high 15 points. He also hauled in 10 rebounds, as Yankton outrebounded Mitchell, 32-28.

"Any time you do that at the end of a half, you carry a little momentum into the second half," Gross said. "We were only down nine, and for as good as Mitchell played, we were actually pretty happy to only be down nine at the half."

Young opened the scoring in the second half on Mitchell's opening possession. He knocked down his fifth 3-pointer off a screen near the Kernels' bench.

The Bucks pulled within two points with 2:15 left in the third, as they worked inside to its post players, though Mitchell never surrendered the lead, winning the game wire-to-wire.

Yankton's Travis Neukirch hit a basket inside with the foul, and after Derrik Nelson dropped in a tear drop, Mueller and Chris Hubbs each recorded points inside the paint.

"We wanted to be within four points at the end of the third quarter, and we were," Gross said. "But we just made too many mistakes down the stretch to get the win."

Mitchell's offense was able to keep its lead by also working inside. The Kernels ran plays off their post players late in the third and got to the free-throw line frequently in the fourth.

"The biggest difference when we played them there than here is we were a lot more aggressive on defense and we rebounded a lot better," Munsen said. "Turner Volesky and Brett Victor did a great job stopping (Jordan Mueller), who is their best player."

The Kernels knocked down 14-of-18 fourth-quarter free throws, and Tyler Volesky hit a key bucket with the shot clock expiring with a little more than a minute remaining in the game to help finish the Bucks off.

Jake Schmidt was the only other Kernel to knock down a 3-pointer in the game, and he finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.

For Yankton, which shot 41 percent from the field, Nelson finished with 11 points and Neukirch added nine. The Bucks (7-10) host Aberdeen Central today.

Mitchell is now 8-10 and clinched a first-round home district game March 3 against either Pierre or Aberdeen. The Kernels wrapped up their regular-season home schedule with a 5-4 record, and they are at Watertown (9-8) today.

"With the young team we have this year, I would have to say last week and (Friday) we're playing more complete games," Munsen said. "Maybe we're playing a little better on both ends of the floor now."