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Kernel boys take on defending champ Pierre tonight in season opener

Erik Skoglund, first year head coach for the Mitchell boys’ basketball team, conducts a rebounding drill during practice Thursday at the high school. ( Sean Ryan/Republic)

For the second straight year, a new face is on the Mitchell bench with a new team and scheme.

First-year head coach Erik Skoglund’s Kernels have put in two-a-day workouts for the past two weeks, which he said has benefitted his team for its season opener.

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Mitchell will be tested early as it faces the defending Class AA champion Pierre in its season opener at 7 p.m. today in Pierre.

“We really got a lot of practice under our belt, the kids are learning a lot and it’s flowing on offense,” Skoglund said. “They quit thinking and are now reacting, but we really feel good about getting that second week under our belt. We’re ready to play someone other than somebody wearing a black or yellow jersey.”

Mitchell’s only returning starter is junior guard Beau Brown, who averaged 12.5 points per game as a sophomore. Joining Brown in starting positions are senior guard Neil Schlimgen, senior forward Derek Miller, junior guard Jaron Weich and sophomore forward Kanin Nelson. Miller is a returning letter winner and also saw varsity time last season for the Kernels, who went 5-17 under head coach Tom Young.

“We’re really excited to get started and nobody really knows what to expect with us with a new coach once again,” Schlimgen said. “We’re hoping to get some upsets and make the state tournament this year.”

Coming off the bench for the Kernels are senior guards Ryker Kreutzfeldt and Ethan Jones and senior forward Jon Jamison.

Skoglund knows the Kernels lack an inside presence and said his team must get the transition game going early against the Governors, who lost Division I players Zach Hanson and Lane Severyn from last season.

“We can’t let them slow it down and do what they want,” Skoglund said. “We’ve got to get turnovers and run in transition. That’s our bread and butter so far. We can only mold so much and this is the type of players we have this year. We’re putting them in better positions to be successful.”

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