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Kernel girls seek to improve in offseason

Mitchell's Jenna Weich looks for a teammate during a game against Huron earlier this season at the Huron Arena. (Marcus Traxler/Republic)

The Mitchell High School girls basketball team didn't have the type of season they were expecting or seeking.

Off a late-season run and a state tournament appearance in 2016, the Kernels finished at 4-19, with a 45-20 loss to Rapid City Central in the Region 2AA round March 6 to close the season.

Head coach Wes Morgan said the season ended up falling short of the expectations the team set in December.

"I think as a team, we didn't meet the expectations we had for ourselves," Morgan said. "And I think the girls are excited to work on the things that we weren't very good at."

The chief issue for Mitchell in 2016-17 was offense, as the Kernels averaged 33.3 points per game. In 11 of the team's 23 games, Mitchell failed to score more than 30 points. Defensively, Mitchell allowed 50 points per game. (Complete Kernel season stats were not available.)

"We have kids on our team that can be shooters and we just have to get good at it," Morgan said. "I think we will be working on that a lot this offseason and we have to be able to knock down shots. It will be an important summer for us."

The Kernels' season was rough at both the beginning and end of the season, with losses in eight of the first nine games and an eight-game losing streak to close the regular season. Mitchell won twice against rivals Huron, with a 37-35 victory at home Jan. 31 and the game of the season for Mitchell, a 66-62 overtime victory over the Tigers in a District 3AA elimination game. MHS scored 57 points in regulation, which would have been a season-high on its own and it showed the team's potential, Morgan said.

"We were able to score the way I knew we could," Morgan said. "It was all the things we had worked on all year coming together at once in a must-win game. We didn't miss layups and we didn't miss free throws."

Morgan said the team's summer plans include workouts three days a week, along with team camps and open gyms.

There is a "young nucleus" for the Mitchell girls, who will graduate two seniors who both started regularly this season: forwards Kendra Brewster and Jenna Weich. Mackenzie Miller, the Kernels' leading scorer at more than 8.5 points per game, is slated to return, along with forwards Chelsea Brewster and Carly Haring and the Kernels' trio of guards in Jordyn Cranny, Mandy Schmidt and Tess Limberg. All of those players will be juniors next season.

Now it's a matter of putting the pieces together this offseason and coming back as an improved team next season.

"It will take some work but I know we've got the players that will put in that time and help us get to where we want to be," Morgan said.