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Fast start, propels WiLdKats to semifinal win over Mitchell Christian

Kimball/White Lake's Eathen Gaulke comes down with a rebound over Mitchell Christian's Adam Rasmussen during a District 10B boys' basketball semifinal Thursday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. Also pictured is Mitchell Christian's Jackson Feiner (3). (Aaron Saunders/Republic)

Kimball/White Lake jumped to a 54-21 halftime lead and cruised to an 83-50 win over Mitchell Christian in semifinal action of the District 10B playoffs Thursday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.

The WiLdKat first-half explosion was fueled by senior Jesse Taylor, who scored 29 of his game-high 32 points in the first 16 minutes.

"I knew we had to get off to a good start," Taylor said of his first-half performance. "The last time we played (MCS) it was a pretty close game, and we didn't want it to be a question after the first quarter."

A good start was an understatement as KWL broke to a 16-0 lead with 3:36 left in the opening quarter.

The Eagles tried to mount a comeback as senior forward Adam Rasmussen scored his team's first seven points to get MCS to within 18-7.

That's as close as the Eagles got.

The WiLdKats closed out the period with a 10-1 run, capped by a three-point shot from Taylor at the buzzer for a 28-8 lead.

Things only got worse for MCS when the WiLdKats essentially put the game away, outscoring MCS 26-13 in the second quarter for the 33-point halftime advantage.

WiLdKat coach Kamden Miller echoed Taylor's comments in wanting to get off to a good start.

"Going into the game, we wanted to get started real quick," Miller said. "We wanted to set the tone of the game, we wanted an up-tempo game and that's what we got."

Miller said Taylor scores his points kind of quietly. But this game was different.

"For the first time all year, and you could see it in his eyes, he wanted to make this a special game," Miller said.

Taylor also had six steals and was followed by Jacob Kirsch with 14 points, seven steals and seven assists. Eathen Gaulke added 10 points.

The WiLdKats (15-6) were 35-of-66 for 53 percent from the field and 9-of-11 for 82 percent from the free-throw line.

KWL held a 26-25 rebounding advantage and it turned the ball over 11 times.

"Anytime you dig a hole like that, it's tough to come out of it," MCS coach Dennis Martin said of his team's first-quarter play. "We thought we would be more focused than we were, and we kind of lost our composure and the next thing we know, we're down 16-0. We knew (Taylor) was a good player. We knew we had to stop him, but we lost our focus and we lost track of him on the court."

The Golden Eagles were led by Rasmussen with 21 points and 15 rebounds and Chandler Nelson, adding 15 points, and Jackson Feiner following with 11 points.

MCS (4-17) made 19 field goals and was 11-of-19 for 58 percent from the free-throw line. The Eagles committed 22 turnovers.

KWL takes on Corsica/Stickney at 6 p.m. Saturday for the district title at the Corn Palace.

Kimball/White Lake 83,

Mitchell Christian 50

K/WL (15-6)

Russell Pick 3 0-0 9; Jason Steckley 0 0-0 0; Jesse Taylor 13 5-7 32; Kyle Peters 1 0-0 2; Stephen Miedema 0 0-0 0; Eathen Gaulke 4 2-2 10; Brandon Overwg 1 0-0 2; Nathan Brodkorb 2 0-0 4; Noah Munsen 2 0-0 4; Willie Norwood 1 2-2 4; Colin Geppert 0 0-0 0; Corbin Heath 1 0-0 2. Totals: 35 9-11 83.

MCS (4-17)

Keergan Larson-Shields 1 0-0 2; Jackson Feiner 5 0-0 11; Wes Vander Pol 0 0-1 0; Chandler Nelson 6 3-6 15; Adam Rasmussen 7 7-10 21; Ethan Cooper 0 1-2 1; Levi Knight 0 0-0 0; Isaak Peitz 0 0-0 0; Riley Larson-Shields 0 0-0 0; Noah Bowman 0 0-0 0; Coby Lee 0 0-0 0; Zach Buche 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 11-19 50.

MCS 8 21 36 50

K/WL 28 54 72 83

3-point goals: K/WL 4 (Pick 3, Taylor 1), MCS 1 (Feiner 1). Rebounds: K/WL 26, MCS 25 (Rasmussen 15). Turnovers: K/WL 11, MCS 22. Fouls: K/WL 19, MCS 11. Fouled out: K/WL None, MCS Nelson. Technical Fouls: None.