Mike Miller will coach at the Corn Palace after all.
The Mitchell Kernel great and former NBA swingman is the current Houston (Tenn.) High School boys basketball coach. The Mustangs will play Lower Brule at 6 p.m. on Friday at the Corn Palace. Houston will also play Class AA No. 4 Brandon Valley at 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.
Friday’s game is open to the public and capacity will be limited to 50% percent of the 3,200-seat venue. Tickets are $5 and doors will open at 4:30 p.m. Face masks are required inside the Corn Palace.
Tickets for Saturday’s contest at the Pentagon will not go on sale to the general public. Each school will have an allotment of tickets they may distribute. Masks are required for all spectators.
The Mustangs were originally slated to play at the Hoop City Classic on Dec. 28-30 in Mitchell and Sioux Falls. But after the event was canceled due to COVID concerns, the Sanford Pentagon contacted Hoop City Classic Director Ernie Kuyper about still playing Brandon Valley at the venue.
Kuyper agreed to the contest, but also wanted to schedule one at the Corn Palace. Prior to the agreement, Lower Brule school officials emailed Kuyper in December about possibly playing in Hoop City Classic.
After the Pentagon contest was lined up, Kuyper contacted Lower Brule about playing the Mustangs in Mitchell.
“I just emailed them and said ‘Hey would you guys like to play at the Palace,’ ” said Kuyper, who is Miller’s cousin and a Mitchell native. “Obviously, we would love it if we could play a game at the Palace for obvious reasons with Mike and our ties there.”
Kuyper said he contacted Mitchell and Dakota Valley about playing at the Corn Palace. But their schedules were full and Sioux Falls schools aren’t playing out-of-state teams, said Kuyper.
Lower Brule, a Class B school located on the Lower Brule Indian Reservation, had an open date and agreed to the game.
“It just worked out beautifully because Lower Brule had a game open and they responded to us,” said Kuyper, who is an assistant for Houston. “So it wrapped the deal up.”
The Mustangs (5-2) are the No. 2-ranked team in Tennessee’s 3A. Houston is headlined by Miller’s son Mason Miller, who is a Creighton commit. LSU commit and 6-foot-10 Jerrell Colbert anchors the post. The Mustangs recently added transfer Johnathon Lawson, who was last year’s Tennessee Gatorade boys basketball player of the year and is committed to Oregon.
“He's a point forward and he can play the one through four,” Kuyper said about the 6-foot-6 Lawson. “He is a very special player. He can really, really pass for his size.”
T.J. Madlock, who has interest from Arkansas and TCU, is the team’s point guard. Mavrick Miller is a 6-foot-4 sophomore for the Mustangs. Freshman point guard Ahmad Nowell is a budding point guard prospect in the Class of 2024.