Streak snapped! Mitchell ends 42-game losing streak in home thriller
In a season in which nothing has gone the way of the Mitchell boys basketball team, Friday night was different.
The Kernels won.
Mitchell had solid defense, balanced and timely offense and got the big shot to fall when it needed it, as Carter Cavanaugh's layup under the basket with 1.5 seconds closed the book on a 42-game losing streak.
"There's no more 42 in a row," Mitchell coach Todd Neuendorf said, following a lengthy celebration on the court with players and community members. "We can end that. Now it's one in a row."
The Kernels knocked off Pierre 47-45 at the Corn Palace, finishing the season with their only win but lifting a giant burden before the offseason.
"It's only one win but it feels a lot bigger than that," Neuendorf said.
Cavanaugh's game-winning shot came on an inbound play under the basket. He said the play called for him to take a 3-pointer at the wing, but noticed Pierre's defenders didn't properly switch the screen. Cavanaugh slipped toward the basket, caught Derek Factor's pass and laid it in for the go-ahead score.
"As it was happening, I don't think I could believe how wide open I was," Cavanaugh said. "It's still hasn't hit me."
Time expired and the Kernels' student section spilled onto the court to celebrate what they thought was the end of the game. Officials gave Pierre a timeout with 1.5 seconds left but did not call a technical foul on Mitchell for the premature court-storming, much to the dismay of the Governors.
"I'm pushing kids back and I went out to the referees and I said, 'Don't give us a T, don't give us a T," Neuendorf said. "Had there been a (technical foul), there would have been pandemonium in this place."
After the timeout, the Governors' sent standout Peyton Zabel deep to the other end of the court and the 6-foot-6 Zabel caught the ball and shot it in midair with four Kernel defenders in the vicinity. The ball hit around the rim three times and bounced out, giving Mitchell its first Eastern South Dakota Conference win in 32 tries and snapped a 23-game home losing streak.
"We knew once we got within striking distance in the fourth quarter, we were going to win this thing," Cavanaugh said. "Because we've put too much time and effort in practice to not pull one out."
Mitchell (1-19) trailed on two occasions by nine points in the third quarter but had a critical 6-0 run to the end the quarter, including a steal and layup from Cavanaugh on the final shot of the quarter to trim the Govs' lead to 38-36. Mitchell led through most of the fourth quarter until Pierre's Matt Maxfield drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game for Pierre with 2 minutes left. Cavanaugh and Zabel traded baskets in the final minute to set up Mitchell's last possession.
"We came in fighting. We knew we were going to win this," Mitchell senior Jordon Johnson said. "I'm going to miss it."
Zabel had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the game, a far cry from the 27 points he had in a 53-48 Governors' win Jan. 30 in Pierre. Neuendorf said the defensive effort on him, led by Johnson, was what won Mitchell the game.
"Jordon did a great job. It was a team effort and we needed that on defense," Neuendorf said. "It's hard to get up and over that hump and these guys did it."
Cavanaugh finished with 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting. Johnson had 10, Kiel Nelson scored nine points and had eight rebounds. Kaden Soukup had eight points, as Mitchell shot 45 percent and was 8-for-15 on free throws. For Pierre (6-14), Carson Tschetter drilled six 3-pointers and had 18 points, as the Govs were 9-for-21 from deep for the game but shot 35 percent overall.
After a long season of losing, there was a lot of joy at the Corn Palace. Mitchell's season is over but it ends in the win column.
"The record looked the same as last year but it's been 100 percent different," Cavanaugh, one of seven seniors. "And coming into this last one, we were determined to pull it out and get a win. We did it."
JV: Mitchell won 56-47. Hunter Stahle scored 13 points, with 11 from Derek Factor and 10 from Kaden Soukup.
Sophomores: Mitchell won 59-34. Lucas Moller scored 12 points, while Caden Hinker and Stahle each scored 10.
Freshmen A: Pierre won 45-39. Zane Alm scored 15 points and Nick Rubendall scored 10.
Freshmen B: Pierre won 54-52. Jake Swenson and Rubendall each scored 10 for Mitchell.
Mitchell 47, Pierre 45
Pierre (6-14, 6-10 ESD): Carson Tschetter 6-12 0-0 18 Matt Maxfield 2-8 0-0 5 Chase Sattgast 1-4 0-0 2 Garrett Stout 2-7 0-0 6 Peyton Zabel 3-10 4-4 10 Zach Maher 1-2 0-0 2 Dawson Puepke 0-1 0-0 0 Grey Zabel 1-1 0-0 2 Totals 16-45 4-4 45.
Mitchell (1-19, 1-15 ESD): Kiel Nelson 4-8 1-3 9 Jordon Johnson 3-5 4-5 10 Carter Cavanaugh 7-12 2-4 16 Baley Miller 0-1 0-0 0 Vincent Michael 0-4 0-0 0 Kaden Soukup 3-7 0-1 8 Derek Factor 1-3 2-2 0 Tate Larson 0-0 0-0 0 Carter Jacobsen 0-0 0-0 0 Totals 18-40 8-15 47
P 10 21 38 45
M 11 20 36 47
3-point goals: P 9-21 (Tschetter 6, Stout 2, Maxfield), M 3-13 (Soukup 2, Johnson). Rebounds-offensive: P 27-12 (P. Zabel 11), M 26-10 (Nelson 8, Johnson 6). Total fouls: P 16, M 12. Fouled out: none. Assists: P 5 (Stout 2, P. Zabel 2), M 6 (Cavanaugh 3). Turnovers: P 12, M 7. Blocks: P 0, M 1 (Cavanaugh). Steals: P 6 (P. Zabel 5), M 9 (Nelson 2, Johnson 2, Cavanaugh 2).