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Mitchell facing tall challenge at Mike Miller Classic

Brooke Cersosimo/Republic Mitchell's Seth Cavanaugh attempts to get around a Brookings defender during a high school boys' basketball game earlier this season.

Before the holiday break, Tom Young said his team must improve its rebounding.

The Kernels will have their work cut out for them during the third Mike Miller Classic, an annual boys' basketball event that begins today at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. The classic is named for Mike Miller, a Mitchell alumnus who now plays for the NBA's Miami Heat.

Mitchell takes on Coronado High School, of Henderson, Nev., at 8:30 p.m. today.

Coronado has height on its side, unlike the Kernels, and has five players at 6-foot-4 or taller on its roster. Its tallest player, senior center Raasheed Westbrook, checks in at 7 feet, while Mitchell's tallest player, senior guard Seth Cavanaugh, is 6-foot-3.

"They'll be a real challenge to us," said Young, whose team has out-rebounded one opponent this season. "They are very athletic and are a big team."

Coronado (5-3) is led by senior forward Jordan Willis in rebounding with 8.5 rebounds per game.

"Our kids are going to have to compete to hold our own on the boards," Young said. "With our size, we can't afford to not go after the rebounds. We need to value every possession."

This season, the Kernels have two players who are averaging double-digit scoring. Cavanaugh has averaged 12.8 points per game and sophomore guard Beau Brown has 12.5 points per game.

The Cougars, who are making their first appearance at the classic, have three players averaging 10 points or more. They are led by senior guard Justice Augmon, who averages 25.1 points per game and has scored 201 points in eight games this season.

Willis averages 22.1 points per game and senior guard Charlie Teixeira averages 13.4 points per game for Coronado.

Coronado head coach Jeff Kaufman heard about the tournament from Findlay Prep coach Michael Peck, whose team participated in the event last year. Kaufman said his team is excited to be a part of such an "original event."

"It's a great chance for us to come up here and play in what I've heard is the Boston Garden of high school basketball," he said, referring to the Corn Palace. "We've been trying to find as much information about our opponents that we can and prepare as best we could."

Young's Kernels agree and are excited to play a nontraditional regular season game.

"The kids are looking forward to it," he said. "We talked about enjoying the atmosphere and embracing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Regardless of the matchup, Young wants his kids to continue to improve and peak at the end of the season.

"This game against Coronado isn't going to determine our season," he said. "We need to keep working on all parts of the game and come out and give our best effort."

The Kernels play Sioux Falls O'Gorman in their second game of the classic at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.