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PARKSTON — It wasn't perfect but the Corsica-Stickney boys basketball team won't complain about its win Thursday at the Parkston Classic. The Jaguars never trailed and knocked off defending Class B champion and No. 1-ranked Warner with a 60-51 win at the Parkston Armory, ending the Monarchs' 28-game win streak dating back to last season. Corsica-Stickney did the job with balanced scoring—four players were in double figures at game's end—and a dominant performance on the glass, closing out Warner with 21 points in the final quarter of the game.
The Mitchell Christian boys basketball team has faced pressure and size before Thursday and they'll see more of it this season. But Thursday's challenge against Minneapolis Patrick Henry is not likely to be matched again, as the Patriots caused 29 turnovers and picked up a 78-40 win over the Golden Eagles in the opening game of the Mike Miller Classic at the Corn Palace.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is the final story in a three-part series on high school basketball classics in South Dakota and the impact of those events. The final week of the year is always among the busiest for some area basketball teams and it's also a busy time for a South Dakota speciality: the prep basketball classic.
In the baseball and basketball hotbed that is Mitchell, there was no sports story in 2016 like Mitchell Kernel football. A state championship 45 years in the making was achieved with the Kernels' 11-1 season, capped with a triumphant victory Nov. 11 in the DakotaDome in Vermillion, a 41-6 win over Harrisburg. It was the Kernels success and all of the captivating stories around the team that made it The Daily Republic's top sports story in 2016. The honor is decided upon by the newspaper's sports staff at the end of each calendar year.
The Yankton Gazelles took Mitchell out of the game early Thursday night, and they did it three points at a time. Yankton didn't miss much from deep on the court—finishing 11-for-17 on 3-pointers—and the Kernels couldn't muster much offense in a 56-33 Eastern South Dakota Conference girls basketball victory for the Gazelles at the Corn Palace. Eight of those 3-pointers came in the first half, as Yankton scored 23 points in the first quarter and led 36-14 at halftime, spoiling Mitchell's home opener.
It might have been two days later and with half as many teams, but the Jill McCormick Invitational gymnastics meet went on Monday night. And Mitchell took care of business in its home gym. The Kernels won the team title at their signature home meet by more than six points, posting 141.650 points and finishing ahead of second-place Sioux Falls O'Gorman, which had 135.300 points.
It's mid-December and around this time each year, it's only natural to reflect on the year almost completed. At The Daily Republic, that means researching the year to date and slimming it down to the biggest stories of the year. The South Dakota Sportswriters Association's annual awards for the best teams and athletes are coming down the pike soon and our staff is putting together our annual list of the top 10 sports stories of 2016. (Keep an eye out for those stories between Dec. 27 and Dec. 31.)
PARKSTON — Blake Bietz has been a successful high school wrestler since the seventh grade. And a few years ago, he set his goals on becoming a college wrestler. "In my sophomore year, everyone was talking around Parkston, saying 'I think you can do it,' Bietz recalled. "I started getting that in my head and my junior year came around and coaches started talking to me and that really sparked my interest. I wanted to go and do it."
The Kernel-to-Tiger pipeline continued on Wednesday, this time with another talented offensive lineman. Mitchell High School senior offensive lineman Alex Klingaman committed to play football at Dakota Wesleyan University on Wednesday. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Klingaman played center for the Kernels during their 11-1 Class 11AA championship season this past fall. He told The Daily Republic Wednesday that he was impressed by Tigers coach Ross Cimpl's program and his approach to football.
PARKSTON — Three-time state champion and Parkston High School wrestler Blake Bietz intends to wrestle at South Dakota State University, the school announced Tuesday. Bietz, a two-time Daily Republic wrestler of the year, was 45-1 a year ago and won the Class B 152-pound state championship, with 25 of those victories coming via pinfall. Bietz won state championships at 113 pounds as a eighth-grader with a 47-3 record in 2013 and 145 pounds as a sophomore in 2015 with a 48-6 record. He was third as a seventh-grader (106 pounds) and as a freshman (132 pounds).