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Kernels fall to No. 1 Huron in district opener

Mitchell’s Jaron Weich looks for someone to pass to as he is guarded by Huron’s Justin Decker during the first round of the District 3AA boys’ basketball tournament Tuesday at Huron Arena. (Aaron Saunders/Republic)

HURON — The Mitchell Kernel boys’ basketball team knew it was in for an uphill battle Tuesday night as it took on the top-seeded Huron Tigers in the first round of the District 3AA tournament.

The Kernels saw the Tigers in Eastern South Dakota Conference action twice this season and fell both times by more than 30 points.

With that in mind, the Kernels had every intention of coming into Huron Arena and upsetting the Tigers, but Huron was too much to handle, beating the Kernels 78-45.

Huron’s length and and athleticism gave Mitchell fits all night. The Tigers played good on-ball defense and stepped into passing lanes, forcing the Kernels to commit 12 turnovers. Offensively, the Tigers relied on Justin Decker, who is headed to play for the University of South Dakota in the fall, on the inside and Caleb Carr on the wing to score their points early on. With the help of Decker, who had a team-high eight rebounds, Huron outrebounded Mitchell 55-27.

“We thought coming in that Mitchell could spread us out and penetrate,” Huron boys’ basketball coach Tim Buddenhagen said. “We knew that (Beau) Brown could get in the lane and dish, so we wanted to make them take tough shots so we could get long rebounds. Mitchell does a lot of trapping out front and if you trap, that leaves a path to the basket.”

Carr scored nine first-half points and finished with 13, while Decker finished with 10. Both players sat on the bench for most of the second half.

Because of the Huron defense, Mitchell had problems getting to the basket, which forced the Kernels to settle for three-point attempts. Mitchell started off slow, missing its first four shot attempts. While the Kernels were having problems finding the bottom of the net Huron built a 16-4 lead in the first quarter. Mitchell scored just 12 points in the first half, shooting 5-of-31 for 16 percent from the field and 2-of-14 for 14 percent from the three-point range.

“Huron is number one for a reason,” first-year MHS boys’ basketball coach Erik Skoglund said. “They stuck it to us from the get go. We were never able to string two buckets together because their defense was too furious for us. That team we saw tonight wants to play for a state title.”

With the help of Jaron Weich, who scored the Kernels’ first seven points, cut the Huron lead to 18-7, but that’s as close as Mitchell got all night. Weich finished with seven points, while Brown had a team-high 10 points. Ethan Jones added eight for the Kernels.

Mitchell shot 17-of-59 for 29 percent from the floor, 8-of-27 for 30 percent from behind the arc and 3-of-7 from the line.

“They picked us apart in the first half,” MHS junior guard Jaron Weich said. “We played a little bit better in the second half and with a little more intensity, but the shots in the first half just weren’t falling and guys were getting down.”

The Tigers advance to host Pierre for the District 3AA championship and a state tournament berth, while Mitchell heads to Aberdeen Friday for an elimination game. The Kernels’ contest begins at 7 p.m. at Aberdeen Central High School.

Mitchell 45

Huron 78

MHS (1-20)

Jaron Weich 3-7 0-0 7; Derek Miller 0-6 0-0 0; Beau Brown 4-16 1-1 10; Neil Schlimgen 1-2 0-0 3; Kanin Nelson 2-6 2-2 6; Tyler Houwman 1-4 0-0 2; Noah Thompson 0-0 0-0 0; Connor Morgan 0-3 0-1 0; Carter Brewster 0-2 0-0 0; Ben Miller 2-2 0-0 6; Ethan Jones 3-5 0-3 8; Keegan Soukup 1-3 0-0 3; Jon Jamison 0-2 0-0 0; Tyler Larson 0-2 0-0 0; team totals: 17-60 3-7 45.

Huron (20-1)

JP Noonan 3-8 0-0 8; Will Carr 3-4 0-2 6; Lucas Morrison 3-4 0-1 6; Caleb Carr 5-10 3-3 13; Justin Decker 3-7 4-4 10; Houstyn Heinz 3-4 1-2 9; Kaison Theis 1-3 0-0 2; Mason Stehly 0-0 0-0 0; Carter Botherton 1-3 0-0 2; Peyton Carr 1-3 0-0 2; Lincoln Witte 1-1 2-2 4; Hayden Busch 4-10 0-0 11; Sam Carr 1-4 3-4 5; Tate Sporrer 0-1 0-0 0; team totals: 29-62 13-18 78.

MHS 4 12 27 45

H 16 39 58 78

3-point goals: MHS 8-29 (Weich, Brown, Schlimgen, Soukup, Jones 2, B. Miller 2), H 7-19 (Busch 3, Noonan 2, Heinz 2); Rebounds: MHS 27 (Brown 4), H 55 (Decker 8); Assists: MHS 6 (Morgan 2), H 12 (Noonan 3); Steals: MHS 4 (Weich 2), H 5 (W. Carr 2); Turnovers: MHS 12, H 13; Team fouls: MHS 17, H 12; Foul outs: MHS none, H None; Technical fouls: none.