Alm, Kernels hold off furious Raider rally to improve to 4-0
Zane Alm scored a career-high 27 points as Mitchell survived a comeback from Rapid City Stevens.
Mitchell High School was ready to blow Rapid City Stevens out of the Corn Palace.
Then the Kernels lead a block from Jonah Schmidt at the buzzer to survive.
After a 15-0 run in the third quarter gave Mitchell a 37-21 lead, the Raiders rattled off a 16-2 run in the fourth quarter and refused to go away. Stevens outscored the Kernels 24-11 in the final frame, but it was not enough, thanks in part to a career scoring day from Zane Alm.
Alm was the lone Mitchell player in double figures and scored a career-high 27 points to help carry the Kernels to a 50-49 win, marking the program’s first 4-0 start since 2014-2015.
“We kind of let off the gas pedal and we have to finish them off,” MHS head coach Todd Neuendorf said. “We left some points out there with missed layups and free throws. Having 17 turnovers, 12 in the first half, isn’t going to cut it. But a win is a win and last year we had those go in the other direction.”
Stevens was able to control the pace in the first half, preferring to slow the game and limit possessions. Mitchell lent some help with 12 first-half turnovers, but Alm’s 13 points -- prior to missing most of the second quarter with two fouls -- led to a 20-17 halftime advantage.
Alm continued his hot play in the third, adding eight more points. Even while being defended by 6-foot-7 Ben Goldy, Alm was able to unload a variety of offensive moves, including his first varsity 3-pointer. He finished 11 of 16 from the field, while grabbing five rebounds and blocking three shots.
“The hook shot was going in, so that was good,” Alm said. “I knew my feet were quicker than the guy who was guarding me, so I just knew that I could take it to him.”
Just as the Kernels began to pull away, the Raiders halted the momentum and eventually cut the lead two with 1 minute, 6 seconds to play.
Typically when Mitchell is looking to put the game away, it looks for leading scorer Caden Hinker. But the Raiders limited him to 3-for-4 shooting and eight points for the game by ensuring a second defender was nearby when he turned to the hoop.
“I thought we did what we wanted defensively -- we held them to 50 points,” Stevens head coach Chris Stoebner said. “But (Hinker) controls the game with his passing. We wanted to make other guys score and obviously Alm picked up that slack. Holding a team like that to 50 points, you’d like to think most nights it gives you a chance to win.”
Mitchell struggled to ice the game, missing the front-end of a one-and-one free-throw attempt twice in the final minute.
Jayden Haefs, who had been 0-for-4 previously, connected on a 3-pointer with 13.7 seconds to play to trim the lead to one. After a missed free throw by the Kernels, Stevens was able to get its preferred shot, but a late pass to Charles Christensen in the corner allowed Schmidt to recover and tip the 3-point attempt into the hands of Ben Helleloid at the horn.
“They kept playing and maybe we relaxed a little,” Neuendorf said. “We had opportunities to put the game away on the free-throw line and we left points on the board. … You have to give them credit, they played with a lot of juice.”
Hinker also grabbed 10 rebounds, while Helleloid had seven points and seven assists.
Christensen led Stevens with 15 points and five rebounds, while Kaden Lemer had 14 points and nine rebounds.
Mitchell returns to action against Campbell County (Wyo.) on Dec. 28 at the Corn Palace.
Mitchell 50, Rapid City Stevens 49
Mitchell (4-0): Caden Hinker 3-4 2-3 8, Zane Alm 11-16 4-5 27, Lucas Moller 0-3 0-0 0, Ben Helleloid 3-6 0-2 7, Dylan Soulek 1-4 0-0 2, Jonah Schmidt 0-0 0-2 0, Gavyn Degen 1-3 0-0 2, Steele Morgan 2-5 0-2 4. Totals 21-41 6-14 50.
Rapid City Stevens (1-3): Kaden Lemer 5-13 4-4 14, Jaden Haefs 1-5 0-0 3, Jordan Eberlein 1-3 1-2 3, Charles Christensen 6-14 0-0 15, Ben Goldy 3-4 0-0 6, Drew Marchant 1-1 0-1 2, Matthew Weber 0-0 0-0 0, Terrance Eastman 3-11 0-1 6. Totals 20-51 5-8 49.
MHS 8 20 39 50
RCS 9 17 25 49
3-point field goals: MHS 2-11 (Alm 1-2, Helleloid 1-2, Hinker 0-1, Soulek 0-1, Degen 0-2), RCS 4-18 (Christensen 3-6, Haefs 1-2, Eastman 0-3, Lemer 0-7). Rebounds: MHS 30 (Hinker 10), RCS 30 (Lemer 9). Assists: MHS 13 (Helleloid 7), RCS 4 (Lemer 3). Steals: MHS 2 (Two players with 1), RCS 1 (Christensen). Blocks: MHS 4 (Alm 3), RCS 0. Total fouls: MHS 12, RCS 16. Turnovers: MHS 17, RCS 13.
Sub-varsity scores: JV: Mitchell 67, Stevens 65. Sophomore: Mitchell 58, Stevens 52. Freshmen: Mitchell’A’ 65, Stevens 41. Stevens 53, Mitchell ‘B’ 28.