Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.
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The Beavers were within striking distance but top-ranked St. Thomas More's composure sealed the 48-39 victory at the Hanson Classic Saturday at the Corn Palace. The Hanson girls' basketball team scored seven straight points on baskets from Kynedi Cheeseman and Leah Marsh to bring itself within one of the defending Class A state champions with 3:29 left in the game. From that point, the Cavaliers controlled the ball, closing out the game on an 8-0 run. "We gave up a couple of easy ones that they were able to feed off of," St. Thomas More coach Brandon Kandolin said.
Tom Young thought the Kernels put together their best game of the season. "I'm really proud of our kids and how they played for 32 minutes," said Mitchell's head coach after Mitchell's 46-44 win over No. 4-ranked Brandon Valley Tuesday in Brandon. "This is really the first time this year that we've been able to do that. We definitely played our best game of the year." Since the first part of the season, Mitchell was able to have a week's worth of practice.
Because of budget cuts in the school district, the Mitchell School High School gymnastics team began paying $8,000 per year to participate as a sanctioned sport four years ago. Who knew this would allow Mitchell's gymnastics program to bloom? The MHS gymnastics program, along with the community's club program -- Mitchell Extreme Gymnastics Academy -- began working together to save the sport. As a result, Mitchell Gymnastics Booster Club Inc.
LETCHER -- Within every undefeated team, there is a leader. And for the Blackhawks, it's senior Nick Miller. Last season, Sanborn Central/Woonsocket went on a 5-0 run before losing in the district semifinals. "We were playing with such confidence at the end of last year and we wanted to carry that over," Sanborn Central/Woonsocket co-head coach Rod Weber said. "(Miller) has always been one to lead his team in the offseason and get the other players involved in the gym.
With an electric crowd, Mitchell seniors Nicole Wittstruck and Nakkia Johnston saved their best routines for last. "It's always nice to see the girls go out on a high note," Mitchell coach Audra Rew said about Wittstruck's 8.9 and Johnston's 8.55 performances. "They both had the best floor routines I've seen them do, and the crowd was cheering. It made it such a special moment for them." The seniors helped lead the Mitchell Kernels gymnastics team to a first-place finish against Sioux Falls Roosevelt and Wagner Monday at the Mitchell High School.
Mitchell Christian outscored its opponent 15-5 in the fourth quarter to defeated Freeman Academy 46-30 Saturday to remain undefeated at 7-0 on the season. "In the second half, we wanted to improve in passing and defensive game," Mitchell Christian head coach Jackie VanLaecken said. "The girls moved the ball around well and defensively, we just stepped it up." The Golden Eagles were led by Khiree Held, who had 14 points in the game.
BROOKINGS -- Quinci Herll finished fourth in the all-around to help lead the Mitchell High School gymnastics team to a second-place finish at the Patty Jorgensen Invitational Saturday in Brookings. Mitchell had a team score of 137.05. Watertown claimed the team title with a 143.15, scoring nearly six points above the rest of the field. Madison took third with a 135.375, Brookings was fourth with a 134 and Huron finished in fifth with a 132.225. Herll finished with a score of 35.1 and teammate Ellie Rew took sixth with a 34.775.
The Mitchell Christian boys' basketball team came out quick and didn't look back as it defeated Free-man Academy 59-43 Saturday at Mitchell Christian School in Mitchell. "After the long layoff, we were concerned about how our team would play," MCHS head coach Dennis Martin said. "But we came out pretty quick and carried through on our game plan, and it turned out the way we wanted." The Golden Eagles built a 31-17 lead at the half as a result of the team's defensive work. "We've worked on a more pressure defense and getting after it early," said Martin, whose team is 2-4 overall.
Jason Christensen thinks his team has come out slow after the holiday break. Nonetheless, the Dakota Wesleyan women's basket-ball team has come away with yet another victory, beating Nebraska Wesleyan 69-53 in a Great Plains Athletic Conference matchup Saturday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. "We're playing a little tentative and rusty right now, and we're not quite as confident as we were right before Christmas," said Christensen, DWU's head coach.
The Huron All Stars scored two goals against a tired Mitchell boys' varsity hockey team in the third period to secure their 4-2 victory over the Marlins Friday at the Mitchell Activities Center. "We just got tired," Mitchell head coach John Lord said. "We're still playing short-manned, and our guys just quit moving their feet." The Marlins are without sophomore Jacob Rice, who suffered a concussion against Brookings Dec. 22.