Kernels play Brandon Valley today at Target Center

When all is said and done, today's game against Brandon Valley is just another notch in the wins or losses column for the Mitchell High School boys' basketball team.

Ordinary game, big arena
Leah Rado/Republic Mitchell High School junior Turner Volesky puts up a shot over a Rapid City Central opponent in a game at the Corn Palace in December. The Kernels play Brandon Valley today at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

When all is said and done, today's game against Brandon Valley is just another notch in the wins or losses column for the Mitchell High School boys' basketball team.

Until that game is done, it is anything but an ordinary game.

Thanks to Mike Miller and the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Kernels play Brandon Valley at approximately 3:25 p.m. today not on their home court at the Corn Palace, but at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

After the MHS game, Miller and the Timberwolves play the Golden State Warriors at 7 p.m.

The road trip has been in the works since it was announced at the Aug. 25 school board meeting, but it's something Kernel head coach Gary Munsen hasn't let his players talk too much about until now.


"They're excited," Munsen said of his players. "They've been real good about not bringing it up until now. Now we've got games out of the way, and it's time to talk about the Target Center."

The Kernels have been focusing on their date with Brandon Valley at the Target Center since their last game Dec. 23, and now it's here. The Kernels are leaving Mitchell at 6:30 this morning to head to Minneapolis.

Mitchell -- which has many players that have never seen an NBA game or been to the Target Center or a venue like it -- will take the floor to warm up at 3 p.m. and the game will start at approximately 3:25 p.m., according to Munsen.

Munsen said he has talked with his players about the size of the Target Center compared to the size of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center or the Sioux Falls Arena, where several of his players have either watched or played in state tournaments.

"It's just like playing in the state tournament, except there's about 9,000 more seats," he said. "It's just like we tell them: the floor is the same size as the Corn Palace floor and the baskets are 10-feet high, just like they are in the Corn Palace. Everything's the same, we just have to be focused."

Munsen also mentioned the Target Center will likely be nowhere near full -- he's expecting around 1,000 people to attend the afternoon game -- which should put less pressure on the athletes playing in the NBA-sized arena.

After the Kernels take the court this afternoon, they get to sit and take in an NBA game, which will be a first for many of the players, Munsen said. The players and fans will hopefully get to watch MHS alum Miller, who was traded to the Timberwolves from the Memphis Grizzlies in a multi-player deal this summer. Miller has missed the past five games due to a sprained right ankle, but is going to at least try to play tonight, Munsen said.

"He's been working out and he'll try it (tonight)," Munsen said. "That's the plan."


The Kernels will watch another South Dakota standout play at a higher level Saturday morning. Munsen is taking his squad to watch Colton Iverson and the University of Minnesota take on Iowa State at 11 a.m. Saturday at Williams Arena. Iverson, a freshman from Yankton, is expected to start for the Gophers, who are off to a 14-1 start.

But, before the Kernels can think about Miller and the Timberwolves or Iverson and the Gophers, they must take on a 2-2 Brandon Valley squad that returns several players from last year's team. The Lynx will be without Austin Sumner, who quarterbacked his football team to an 11-1 record, but hurt his shoulder and is expected to miss the entire basketball season.

Even without Sumner, the Lynx have plenty of talent, according to Munsen. Chase Douglas, a 6-foot-4 senior center; Britt Wickett, a 5-foot-10 senior guard and Brian Eiesland, a 6-foot-3 senior are Brandon Valley's best players and biggest threats.

Munsen also said the Lynx's 2-2 record is deceiving.

"They lost to Watertown, who they should have beat and they didn't play very well in their opening game against Yankton," Munsen said. "They have a nice team. They got a big win at Aberdeen, and they went to Brookings and got a big win. They have a lot of kids back."

Munsen said that, although his players have plenty of reasons to be excited about their road trip today and Saturday, chalking up another ESD win is still the No. 1 priority and that focus is going to be key for both teams when they hit the court today.

"I think the biggest thing is how mentally tough the kids are going to be and how bad they want to focus on what's at hand," he said. "It'll be exciting for the community of Brandon and the community of Mitchell, though, that's for sure."

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