Kernel rally

Mitchell's Whitney Morgan hit a jumper with 0.8 seconds remaining on the clock, giving the girls' basketball team its most wins in a season since 2004.

Kernels win by one
Luke Hagen/Republic Mitchell's Caitlin Way dribbles in the lane, while Brookings' Kaylin Helsper (31) and Katelynn Gordon, left, defend. Way finished with a double-double in Mitchell's 43-42 win Thursday at the Corn Palce.

Mitchell's Whitney Morgan hit a jumper with 0.8 seconds remaining on the clock, giving the girls' basketball team its most wins in a season since 2004.

The Kernels rallied from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Brookings Thursday night at the Corn Palace, 43-42.

Brookings missed two one-and-one free-throw attempts with less than 50 seconds on the clock while leading 42-41. After Mitchell's timeout, guard Kendra Knight dribbled the ball up court and passed to Taylor Piper, who was heavily guarded. Piper drove down the baseline and made a good bounce pass through two Brookings defenders to Whitney Morgan, who pulled up and hit a jumper that banked off the glass.

"It was a good pass by Taylor," said Morgan, who knocked down the second game-winning shot of her life. "Getting the pass was a little scary, but it was a wide-open look after that. We actually had something else set up, and it didn't work."

Brookings' coach Lynn Frederick called timeout and drew up a play, but Brookings' inbound was intercepted by Mitchell's Caitlin Way at half court.


The win gives Mitchell its third of the season, which is its most since the team went 21-2 in 2004. The Kernels had two-win seasons in 2005, 2006 and 2008 and only one win in 2007.

The Bobcats had complete control of the game -- they lead by 11 to open the fourth -- until a shot-clock violation with about six minutes remaining in the game. Piper scored baskets on back-to-back possessions to pull the team within six, but Brookings answered right back when Erinn Osborne scored on a layup, and then she knocked down two free throws, the only only free throws Brookings made in the fourth, to pull the lead back to nine. The four points were Osborne's only of the game.

To give the Kernels a huge burst of energy and hope, Courtney Miller hit a 3-pointer with about two minutes left on the clock to get Mitchell within four, and she hit another with one minute remaining to make the score 42-41.

"Courtney Miller knocked down some great shots," Mitchell head coach Wes Morgan said. "She did it for us against Yankton, and then she does it again. She's as tough as nails. Her two shots got us right back in the game."

Brookings missed its bonus free throws after Miller's 3-pointers.

"We had the opportunities, but we didn't take advantage of them," Frederick said. "The missed free throws and layups tonight were huge."

Mitchell slowly started its comeback in the beginning of the second half after scoring only 12 points in the first half.

The Kernels cut into Brookings' 13-point halftime lead while getting to the foul line and picking up its defense. The team hit 6-of-8 from the line and held Brookings to nine third-quarter points.


The first half was all Brookings, though. The Bobcats shot 44 percent from the field in the first two quarters, including a 3-pointer by Lynsey Magnus to open the game. She was one of three Brookings scorers to finish with a team-high eight points. Courtney Higgins was 4-of-6 from the field to finish with eight, and Lianna Morrow also finished with eight.

Brookings pulled out to a 15-point lead -- its largest of the game -- when Keighley Morrow hit her only basket of the game in the second at 2:45. The Bobcats also showed their fast-break offense, as Kaylin Helsper hit an early basket in the first off a long pass from Morrow.

"The game was more our pace in the first half," Frederick said. "We had a better start to this game than the previous couple. We played with more passion and more emotion, but we just couldn't finish."

Mitchell and Brookings tied in the rebounding battle 31-31, though Mitchell stopped Brookings from dominating the offensive boards like it was in the first half. The Bobcats finished shooting 40 percent from the field, but it was the late missed free throws that cost them the game. They finished 6-of-11 from the line.

Mitchell is now 3-6 on the season, while Brookings is now on a six-game losing streak, putting its record at 3-8.

"This is a tough game, because of the way we played in the first half and the good shooting we had," Frederick said. "Then for them to come back and win the game makes the emotional situation a little more uncomfortable."

For the Kernels, Piper and Way each finished with a game-high 11 points, and Way also added 12 rebounds. Knight had seven points and four assists, and Whitney Morgan finished with six points, with four coming in the fourth quarter.

Wes Morgan said he felt the win would help out the team's confidence the rest of the season, especially since it surpassed its win totals for the past four seasons.


"These kids are that good, but I have to keep beating it in their heads they are," Wes Morgan said. "Brookings is a good team. I'm proud of my girls. That was a big win for us."

Mitchell travels to Aberdeen Central (4-6) on Saturday, and Brookings has a week off before it travels to Rapid City Stevens on Jan. 30.

Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at
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