Tiger trap: Kernel girls topple No. 4 Harrisburg
The Mitchell girls basketball team had already been close a few times this season.
But on Monday, the Kernels beat down the door to a big upset and knocked off No. 4-ranked Harrisburg at the Corn Palace, earning a 48-42 Eastern South Dakota Conference victory.
It was tough, annoying defense and balanced, aggressive offense that keyed the Kernels to their biggest win of the season, in which the Kernels (7-10, 5-9 ESD) took control before halftime and never gave back the lead.
"We just played hard tonight, the whole time," Mitchell coach Wes Morgan said. "That's what we need to do. We have to play hard and keep running kids at their kids and see who can win the conditioning battle."
It was also the second time Mitchell battled Harrisburg particularly tough this season, after Harrisburg beat Mitchell 47-43 on Jan. 9.
"We changed up our offense a little bit because we were being stagnant and we just said, 'You have to go the next play. Don't worry about it,' " Morgan said. "We took care of the basketball tonight a bit and we can do better but that helped."
Mitchell checked the boxes needed for a big win, particularly in the first half. The Kernels were 4-for-20 shooting in the first half but led by two points thanks to a 14-for-16 effort at the free-throw line. On the other end of the court, Harrisburg (13-4, 12-3 ESD) didn't attempt a free throw in the first half and didn't toe the line for an attempt until midway through the third quarter. In all, Mitchell was 21-for-32 on free throws for the game.
"We turned the ball over 19 times and (Mitchell) did that to us," Harrisburg coach Nick Mayer said. "They got us to play at a faster pace than we really wanted to and when we broke their press, in the half court, we just didn't do a very good job of getting a good shot."
The Kernels trailed 16-10 after the first quarter but chipped into the lead with six successive free throws from Chelsea Brewster to trim the lead down to one point. Freshman Avia Haley followed with a 3-pointer to cap a 9-0 run, and after a brief tie, Shianne Hiemstra drained two free throws with 34 seconds left before halftime to give MHS a 23-21 intermission advantage.
Mitchell immediately opened the lead further in the third quarter, with Payton Morgan and Jordyn Cranny drilling back-to-back 3-pointers to make the lead 31-23 with 4:34 left. Harrisburg whittled the Kernel lead to three points on a Sydney Halling 3-pointer, only for the freshman Haley to answer at the third-quarter horn to put Mitchell back up 37-31.
In the fourth quarter, Cranny drilled a 3-pointer to take the lead to seven points and Brewster's layup with 3 minutes left put Mitchell up 45-37. The Kernels were not convincing at the free-throw line down the stretch, converting 3-of-11 free throws in the final 3 minutes but held Harrisburg to only five points in that stretch, closing out the victory.
"Mitchell made the big shots," said Mayer, whose Tigers go to No. 1 Aberdeen Central on Friday. "They got to the free throw line and they got the big win. They deserve a lot of credit."
The Kernels had a number of key performances on the stat sheet. Brewster and Cranny each had eight points, while Mackenzie Miller had seven points and 10 rebounds. Haley, Tess Limberg and Tayler Factor each scored six points, with Factor adding four steals and seven rebounds. Mitchell shot 30 percent for the game but made 5-of-9 3-pointers and committed only 13 turnovers.
Sydney Halling had 13 points for Harrisburg, leading all scorers, while Jeniah Ugofsky had 12 and Sadie Roth had seven points. But in all, the Tigers — who had won four straight games and six of their previous seven — were held to 32 percent shooting, including 27 percent in the second half and 5-for-17 on 3-pointers.
Mitchell plays at Sioux Falls O'Gorman on Saturday, looking to finish their season with a surge started by Monday's performance.
"We've got three games left," Morgan said. "We want to see how much noise we can make in three more games."
JV: Harrisburg won 52-34. Tess Limberg had 10 points for Mitchell.
Sophomore: Harrisburg won 55-47. Haley Hohn led all scorers with 18 for the Kernels, while Regan Waddell and Avia Haley each scored eight.
Mitchell 48, No. 4 Harrisburg 42
Harrisburg (13-4, 12-3 ESD): Aby Phipps 2-8 1-1 6 Jeniah Ugofsky 6-9 0-1 12 Sadie Roth 3-9 0-0 7 Autumn Steffen 0-3 1-2 1 Sydney Halling 4-17 3-4 13 Kiki Berndt 0-1 0-0 0 Sydney Altenburg 0-0 0-0 0 Brecli Honner 1-3 0-0 3 Totals 16-50 5-8 42
Mitchell (7-10, 5-9 ESD): Shianne Hiemstra 0-0 3-4 3 Mackenzie Miller 3-12 1-2 7 Jordyn Cranny 2-4 2-2 8 Payton Morgan 1-3 1-2 4 Tayler Factor 1-8 4-9 6 Tess Limberg 1-3 4-4 6 Mandy Schmidt 0-0 0-0 0 Avia Haley 2-3 0-0 6 Chelsea Brewster 1-2 6-9 8 Carly Haring 0-0 0-0 0 Totals 11-37 21-32 48
H 16 21 31 42
M 10 23 37 48
3-point goals: H 5-17 (Halling 2, Roth, Phipps, Honner), M 5-9 (Cranny 2, Haley 2, Morgan); Rebounds-offensive: H 32-14 (Ugofsky 9, Roth 7), M 28-8 (Miller 10, Factor 7). Total fouls: H 21, M 15. Fouled out: Ugofsky (4th, 0:11). Assists: H 7 (Ugofsky 3), M 6 (Factor 3). Turnovers: H 19, M 13. Blocks: H 5 (Ugofsky 4), M 0. Steals: H 8 (Philpps 2, Honner 2), M 11 (Factor 4).