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Aggressive Kernels use furious first quarter to soar past Sturgis

The Class AA No. 3 Kernels made sure to look the part in the first quarter against Sturgis on Friday, coming off a disappointing last-minute loss to Pierre Tuesday. They swarmed the Scoopers to force seven turnovers and built a 22-3 lead after the first period in a 61-34 win.

Mitchell basketball.jpg

STURGIS — It has been a while since Mitchell High School could overwhelm an opponent with sheer firepower.

The Class AA No. 3 Kernels made sure to look the part in the first quarter against Sturgis on Friday, coming off a disappointing last-minute loss to Pierre Tuesday . They swarmed the Scoopers to force seven turnovers and built a 22-3 lead after the first period in a 61-34 win.

Mitchell’s 27-point is the program’s biggest margin of victory on the road since a 70-39 win over Spearfish on Feb. 4, 2012. The Kernels also beat Spearfish by 26 points in 2019.

Coming off a season-worst- 38.6% field goal percentage , Mitchell shot 38.7% against Sturgis, including 5 of 24 from 3-point range. But the Kernels were more aggressive on drives to the hoop and created more outside opportunities.

“We didn’t shoot particularly well, but we played hard and that’s what we were upset with the other night,” MHS head coach Todd Neuendorf said. “You’re not always going to shoot well, but if you play hard that can offset some stuff. … They were physical in trying to take away our post guys and our post guys kicked it out to guys who usually hit those shots. But we didn’t shoot well and won by 27 points.”

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To ensure there would not be a repeat of Tuesday’s sluggish performance, Mitchell (11-2) used a 3/4-court trap to begin the game, designed to prevent the Scoopers from walking the ball up the floor. The Kernels were able to force 20 turnovers in the game, but many of them came without the press.

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Mitchell was stout in the paint, as Zane Alm had three of his four blocks in the first quarter and the team recorded eight for the game. Sturgis’ three-point first quarter and 34 points for the game were both season-lows for the Kernels, who held their hosts to 32.5% shooting. They also had a 44-25 advantage on the boards.

“(The press) is mainly to get us jump-started, with some energy and playing full-court, so we’re not just running back and sitting on our haunches,” Neuendorf said. “It’s going to be hard to get teams to turn it over because everybody has guys that can handle it. We aren’t necessarily trying to get a steal. We’re trying to take some time off the shot clock and getting us up and going.”

With an early double-digit lead, Mitchell began to substitute more liberally in the second quarter, which allowed the Scoopers to pull even in the frame. The Kernels regrouped at halftime, however, and continued their aggressive attack, this time led by Caden Hinker.

Seven of Hinker’s 10 misses against Pierre came from beyond the arc, but against Sturgis (1-14), the junior drove to the rim all game. Hinker registered two of his three dunks in the first quarter and then scored the team’s first 10 points of the third quarter. He scored 18 points in the contest, while adding six rebounds, six assists and two blocks.

“When I got a chance to talk to him after the loss, I told him, ‘You don’t want to limit yourself to perimeter shots. We need you attacking the rim, getting offensive boards and getting in the post,’” Neuendorf said. “There’s a difference between a shooter and scorer and he’s a scorer. He can score from different places on the floor and that’s what we asked him to do. He was much better tonight about that.”

Alm added 16 points and 10 rebounds (five offensive), while Lucas Moller went 3-for-4 from the 3-point line and finished with nine points.

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Tyan Buss had eight points in the loss for Sturgis.

Mitchell returns to action at Spearfish at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Mitchell 61, Sturgis 34

Mitchell (11-2): Caden Hinker 7-15 3-3 18, Zane Alm 6-14 3-6 16, Lucas Moller 3-4 0-0 9, Ben Helleloid 1-1 0-0 2, Dylan Soulek 1-8 0-0 2, Aiden Myers 0-1 0-0 0, Landon Waddell 0-1 0-0 0, Jackson Childs 0-3 0-0 0, Jonah Schmidt 0-2 1-2 1, Gavyn Degen 1-7 1-1 3, A.J. Siemsen 0-0 0-0 0, Charlie McCardle 1-1 0-0 2, Steele Morgan 4-6 0-0 8. Totals 24-62 8-12.

Sturgis (1-14): R.J. Andrzejewski 1-4 0-0 3, Gavin Lictenberg 0-6 0-0 0, Ridge Inhofer 0-1 0-0 0, Konner Berndt 2-3 1-1 5, Carson Pankratz 2-5 0-1 4, Tyan Buus 3-4 0-0 8, Connor Cruickshark 0-0 0-0 0, Tayten Smeenk 1-1 0-0 2, Jake Vliem 0-2 0-0 0, Dysen Peterson 2-4 0-0 5, Aidan Hedderman 1-4 2-2 4, Cale Jolley 0-0 0-0 0, Owen Cass 1-6 1-2 3. Totals 13-40 4-5 34.

MHS 22 35 52 61

SB 3 16 24 34

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3-pointers: MHS 5-24 (Moller 3-4, Alm 1-2, Hinker 1-5, Morgan 0-1, Myers 0-1, Childs 0-3, Soulek 0-3, Degen 0-5), SB 4-13 (Buus 2-2, Peterson 1-1, Andrzejewski 1-2, Cass 0-2, Lictenberg 0-6). Rebounds: MHS 44 (Alm 10), SB 25 (Lictenberg 4). Assists: MHS 9 (Hinker 6), SB 5 (Five players with 1). Steals: MHS 7 (Soulek 3), SB 7 (Seven players with 1). Blocks: MHS 8 (Alm 4), SB 0. Fouls: MHS 12, SB 15. Turnovers: MHS 14, SB 20.

Sub-varsity: Freshmen: Mitchell 'A' 68, Sturgis 29.

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