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Kernels hold off furious comeback from Rough Riders, advance

Mitchell’s Erin Farnham dribbles the ball during the quarterfinals against Sioux Falls Roosevelt during the Class AA state girls’ basketball tournament Thursday at Frost Arena in Brookings. (Nick McCutcheon/Republic)

BROOKINGS - The first round of the Class AA state tournament started the same as many for the Kernels this season, with Mitchell rushing out to a 14-point lead after the opening quarter.

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Mitchell had to hold off a furious Rough Rider comeback, however, to win 70-65 Thursday at Frost Arena in Brookings.

After the first quarter, the No. 2 seed Kernels handled adversity at the most important time, with senior guard Macy Miller scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter.

Mitchell’s offense was stalled for much of the second and third quarters by Roosevelt’s zone defense, as Tagyn Larson blocked eight shots in the game for the Rough Riders.

“They made adjustments after the first quarter,” Mitchell coach Wes Morgan said about Roosevelt’s comeback.

Down 12 points to start the second half, Paige Mriden led the Rough Riders with four 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the third quarter, eventually tying the game at 35.

Mitchell held a four-point lead heading into the final quarter, but starters Torrie Michels, Emma Schmidt and Shelly Iburg were sent to the bench for the Kernels after fouling out. This left Morgan to rely on solid minutes from Cassidy Musick, as well as a trio of players that had not played in crunch time all season - Ally Goldammer, Erin Farnham and Hallie Misiaszek.

“I have trust in all of my teammates to come out there and adapt,” Mitchell junior forward Taylor Volesky said about the Mitchell supporting cast late in the game. “This game gave us a lot of confidence in our bench for the rest of the tournament.”

The role players did their part, while Miller, who had been stifled by Larson a number of times at the rim, and Volesky stood tall to push Mitchell into the Class AA semifinals against No. 3 seed Sioux Falls O’Gorman at 7:45 pm. today at Frost Arena. The Knights are the only team to beat the Kernels this season.

Miller put the Kernels ahead 64-60 with 37 seconds left, making a layup. She was fouled on the shot by Larson, a 6-foot-2 University of Iowa commit, and Miller made the free throw.

“There is a lot of fight in that dog,” Morgan said of Macy’s clutch performance down the stretch. “Just a ton of perseverance all around by this team tonight.”

Miller finished with a game-high 38 points, breaking Mike Miller’s record for the most points scored in a season as a Kernel. Macy now has 703 points this season.

The South Dakota State University signee added 17 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and five steals on the court she will call home in the fall. She hit seven of her 18 made free throws in the final 90 seconds of the game to secure the win.

Volesky added 16 points and eight rebounds, while senior Torrie Michels chipped in five points before fouling out less than a minute into the fourth quarter.

The Kernels shot 22-of-54 from the field and 21-of-25 from the free-throw line, while turning the ball over nine times.

The Rough Riders were led by Mriden with 29 points, including five 3-pointers, while Larson nearly completed a triple-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds to go along with her eight blocks.

“Paige and Taygn have done this for us all year,” Roosevelt coach Chris Clark said. “If we could have grabbed another rebound or two, or pulled down a few more of those blocked shots, it might have been a different story.”

Roosevelt shot 20-of-55 from the field and 20-of-26 from the free-throw line, while turning the ball over 12 times and outrebounding the Kernels 37-36.

The Rough Riders play Rapid City Stevens at 1:45 p.m. today in the consolation semifinals.