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Kernels’ shooting goes cold in loss to Brandon Valley

Mitchell's Tess Limberg gets swarmed by a pair of Brandon Valley defenders during a Class AA state tournament game on Friday in Rapid City. (Jeremy Karll / Republic)1 / 2
Mitchell's Tayler Factor drives to the hoop during a Class AA state tournament game against Brandon Valley on Friday in Rapid City. (Jeremy Karll / Republic) 2 / 2

RAPID CITY -- Wes Morgan said Mitchell had to pick its poison.

The No. 8 seed Kernel girls opted toward playing a zone defense, forcing No. 4 Brandon Valley to hit from the perimeter. The Lynx answered, catching fire after the first quarter and running away with a 52-38 win in the Class AA state tournament semifinals Friday at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

Mitchell plays Harrisburg at 2:30 p.m. Central Saturday in the third-place game. The third-seeded Patriots took down the second-seeded Tigers 42-39 in the other Class AA semifinal.

“Probably even more than the 3s, they go to the hoop and when they go to the hoop, you can’t stop them,” Mitchell coach Wes Morgan said. “So, pick your poison -- get beat up going to the hoop and foul or maybe they get a 3.”

Ashley Wells and Danica Kocer led the barrage of 3-pointers by the Lynx. They combined to shoot 7-for-12 from beyond the arc, with Kocer hitting a pair of early 3s. But it took them a little to get going as Lynx coach Mark Stadem said his team was, “a little juiced right away.”

The Kernels scored the game’s first nine points, but after settling down, Kocer nailed back-to-back triples to put the Lynx on the board after nearly 6 minutes. They pulled within five by the end of the first quarter.

Kocer finished with a game-high 17 points to go with five rebounds and three assists, and Wells added 14 points and five boards. Brandon Valley shot 42.2 percent as a team.

“Danica gave us a really huge lift,” Stadem said. “She hasn’t been feeling well -- she’s been sick. But she played through it. When she kind of got going, she brought us along.”

The hot outside shooting didn’t cease, and unlike on Thursday, Mitchell failed to stop the bleeding.

Brandon Valley grabbed nine offensive rebounds and its constant switching on defense forced 17 turnovers. The Lynx took an 18-17 lead midway through the second, which it grew to 24-13 at halftime and 43-30 by the end of three. They led by as many as 18 in the fourth.

“Seventeen turnovers are too many,” Morgan said. “They overplay everything, so when you’re not fundamental getting up and out, getting open, it makes it hard to run plays. … They just keep coming at you. They don’t quit.”

Tess Limberg kept Mitchell in the game by scoring 12 points before the break. Although, she only managed four after halftime, while no other Kernel cracked double figures.

A day after the Kernels’ shooting helped it upset top-seeded Sioux Falls O’Gorman, it became their downfall. The Kernels went 1-for-7 from beyond the arc and 13 of 19 at the line. Getting scores at the rim wasn’t easier as Brandon Valley clogged the middle. Mitchell only made eight field goals in the final three quarters, leading to 41.4 percent shooting.

“They clog up the middle and switch everything,” Morgan said. “We didn’t have enough time to work on slipping the screens and backdoor cuts.”

Mackenzie Miller and Payton Morgan both scored six points, while Jordyn Cranny and Tayler Factor each added five. Payton Morgan and Factor both had a team-high five rebounds.

Brandon Valley 52, Mitchell 38

Brandon Valley (19-4): Hannah Behrens 2-6 0-0 4, Lauren Wells 3-6 0-0 7, Danica Kocer 7-12 0-0 17, Ashley Wells 4-7 2-2 14, Trinity Law 1-6 0-0 2, Mara Schaap 0-2 0-0 0, Emma Jarovski 1-4 1-2 4, Haley Pieper 1-2 2-2 4. Team totals: 19-45 5-6 52.

Mitchell (13-9): Mackenzie Miller 3-8 0-3 6, Tess Limberg 4-8 8-8 16, Jordyn Cranny 1-2 2-2 5, Payton Morgan 2-4 2-2 6, Tayler Factor 2-7 1-4 5, Mandy Schmidt 0-0 0-0 0, Avia Haley 0-0 0-0 0, Haley Hohn 0-0 0-0 0, Macy Kempf 0-0 0-0 0. Team totals: 12-29 13-19 38.

BV 8 26 43 52

MHS 13 23 30 38

3-pointers: BV 9-23 (L. Wells 1-3, Kocer 3-7, A. Wells 4-5, Jarovski 1-4); MHS 1-7 (Cranny 1-2). Rebounds: BV 22 (Kocer 5, A. Wells 5); MHS 24 (Morgan 5, Factor 5). Assists: BV 8 (Kocer 3); MHD 6 (Schmidt 2). Blocked shots: BV 1 (Law 1); MHS 0. Steals: BV 0 (Law 3); MHS 6 (Factor 4). Total fouls: BV 17; MHS 8. Turnovers: BV 12; MHS 17.

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