After dropping its first game of the season last Saturday, Mitchell High School boys basketball coach Todd Neuendorf was disappointed at the last-second loss, but he was pleased to see an improvement in his team.
The Kernels had nearly a full week to prepare for Friday night's game against Rapid City Central at the Corn Palace and early in the game, it appeared they were ready to execute the game plan, racing out to a 6-2 lead.
The game quickly went south, however, as Mitchell struggled with its decision-making, which led to 21 turnovers and shooting just 32.5 percent from the field in a 62-44 loss to the Cobblers.
"I'm really disappointed-I thought we took a step backwards," Neuendorf said. "I thought we played selfish at times. We played a lot of one-on-one at times, instead of sharing the basketball."
Mitchell trailed by just three at the end of the first quarter, but Central was able to pull away with a 24-point second quarter. Not only did turnovers lead to easy layups, but the Kernels also struggled with their man-to-man defense.
The Cobblers were able to lob the ball into the post or get past the initial defender with dribble penetration and the Mitchell help-side defender was a step too late, allowing RCC to shoot 16-for-20 in the first half.
"What's so frustrating about it is we spent two days working screen-and-roll and bringing the help-side over," Neuendorf said. "We spent 20 minutes each practice defending that and it looked like we hadn't done any of that. We didn't bring it from the drill to the live action and that's got to change."
Mitchell switched to a 3-2 zone in the second half, which eliminated the earlier defensive woes, but the Cobblers were able to find gaps in the zone to attack the offensive glass, leading to more easy layups at times until eventually reverting back to man-to-man and patching up the mistakes.
While the defense was able to gain some traction, holding RCC to just 10 of 26 shooting in the second half, the offense never got into a rhythm. The Kernels only made two shots from 3-point range and finished with just five assists thanks to shot selection that did not please Neuendorf.
"Maybe we're allowing too much freedom and maybe we to put them into more sets," he said. "...We thought we could play a little basketball, but we might have to set them up a little bit. I thought shot selection was terrible. We had a one-on-four break and we pulled up and shot it. That's not good basketball."
Caden Hinker led Mitchell with 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting, while Carter Jacobsen had 12 points and five rebounds and Derek Factor added seven points, five rebounds and three steals.
The Kernels don't have much time to dwell on the loss as they are right back in action on Saturday against Rapid City Stevens.
"We're excited to get back at it, because I'm not going to sleep tonight," Neuendorf said. "Since I've been at Mitchell, this is as bad a loss as I've had and I've had enough of them. This one hurts more, because we were ready for this team, we just didn't do what we were taught all week in practice."
Erik Keohane led Central (1-3) with 11 points and six rebounds, while Gavyn Strand had eight points, six assists, five rebounds and five steals.
Mitchell (0-2) hosts Rapid City Stevens at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Corn Palace.
Rapid City Central 62, Mitchell 44
Rapid City Central (1-3): Kohl Meisman 2-5 0-0 4, Julian Swallow 1-1 0-0 2, Joe Oldham 4-6 0-0 9, Gavyn Strand 3-9 1-1 8, DaSean Marquese 3-4 2-2 9, Taegan Wells 1-1 0-0 2, Robbie Weber 4-6 0-2 8, Erik Keohane 4-7 3-5 11, Elijah Williams 3-6 1-2 7, Trent Foli 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 26-46 7-12 62.
Mitchell (0-2): Kiel Nelson 0-5 0-2 0, Gavyn Degen 0-0 0-0 0, Hunter Stahle 0-2 2-2 2, Derek Factor 0-2 7-9 7, Kaden Soukup 0-3 0-0 0, Caden Hinker 4-7 3-4 13, Ben Helleloid 0-1 0-0 0, Carter Jacobsen 4-12 4-4 12, Ryley Johansen 3-5 0-0 6, Zane Alm 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 13-40 16-21 44.
3-point field goals: RCC 3-9 (Oldham 1-2, Strand 1-2, Marquese 1-2), MHS 2-12 (Hinker 2-4, Stahle 0-1, Nelson 0-2, Factor 0-2, Soukup 0-3). Rebounds: RCC 28 (Weber 7), MHS 25 (Nelson 6). Assists: RCC 10 (Strand 6), MHS 5 (Jacobsen 2). Steals: RCC 17 (Strand 5), MHS 7 (Factor 3). Blocked shots: RCC 0, MHS 1 (Alm 1). Turnovers: RCC 15, MHS 21. Total fouls: RCC 14, MHS 14.
RCC 14 38 50 62
MHS 11 22 34 44
Sub-varsity scores: JV: RC Central 65, Mitchell 54. Sophomores: Mitchell 50, RC Central 31.