EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is the second installment in a bi-weekly series examining a key play or sequence in the previous week’s boys basketball game for Mitchell High School.
Easy baskets were an infrequent occurrence for Mitchell High School during the first six games of the season, but a two-game offensive eruption led to the first win of the season against Pierre on Friday.
After surpassing 70 points in a game twice in the previous four seasons combined, the Kernels hit 70 in both of their games last week, first in an 81-74 double-overtime loss to Sioux Falls Lincoln and then a 73-40 win against the Governors at the Corn Palace.
Uncontested baskets were a key in both games, but Mitchell finally resurrected its transition offense against Pierre, recording 14 fastbreak points in the win.
Turnovers turn into transition offense
With the implementation of a post-centric offense, opportunities for fastbreak points have been limited, but even more so when Mitchell did not force turnovers in the first six games.
In those games, the Kernels averaged 2.7 transition points and 7.2 points off turnovers. But in the two games last week, they averaged 10 transition points and 21.5 points off turnovers, including 34 against Pierre.
Three of Mitchell’s fastbreak baskets came off steals, while another was started on a blocked shot. Not only were the Kernels jumping into passing lanes and pushing the ball up the floor, but teammates were also filling lanes to create high-percentage, uncontested shots.
“We still want to go inside, if we’ve got an easy shot in transition, we want to shoot that shot,” MHS head coach Todd Neuendorf said. “... You’re going to run more and more, but it’s a fine line. We don’t want to take quick shots and we don’t want guys leaking out. We want to take good shots when guys are in rebounding position and when we’re in the flow of shooting.”
Larson’s fastbreak 3-pointer swings momentum
One particular transition basket resulted in one of the biggest moments of the game against Pierre, as Macon Larson finished a fastbreak with a momentum-shifting 3-pointer in the second quarter.
Zane Alm started the fastbreak with a block at the rim and Larson threw an outlet pass to Gavyn Degen -- who had two points and three assists in transition. Degen patiently waited for a trailing Larson, who confidently stepped into the open shot.
The play culminated a sequence that featured back-to-back 3-pointers and put Mitchell up 15 points. Pierre was forced to call a timeout, but the Kernels never relinquished the momentum in the remainder of the game.
“That’s one of the hardest shots in basketball,” Neuendorf said. “You’re coming fast down the floor and you have to stop on a dime and raise straight up. … Gavyn hit Macon right in the numbers so he could catch it and shoot in rhythm. That’s a tough shot, I don’t care who it is.”
Mitchell hosts Watertown at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Corn Palace.