A year after starting the season 0-8, Mitchell High School had a chance to start 8-0.
But Sioux Falls Christian gave fans flashbacks to Kernel squads of years past. Turnovers and missed defensive assignments plagued Class AA No. 5 Mitchell all night and the Chargers capitalized on seemingly every opportunity.
No team had scored 50 points nor shot 40% on the Kernels prior to Friday, but Class A No. 2 Sioux Falls Christian torched Mitchell on 11 of 21 shooting from beyond the 3-point line. The Kernels also committed a season-high 20 turnovers, falling for the first time this season, 69-59.
“I’m not even going to watch the film, because there was nothing to learn from this,” MHS head coach Todd Neuendorf said. “This was a comedy of errors. You can’t say, ‘Let’s watch this and get better,’ because this was so out of character and so ridiculous. We could have not thrown one-handed passes and thrown it out of bounds.”
Sioux Falls Christian employed a full-court trap and Mitchell was rarely goaded into a compromising position. But the Kernels did rush passes, overthrow passes or force them into rapidly-closing windows, resulting in easy baskets for the Chargers.
Mitchell (7-1) committed nine turnovers in the first quarter as Sioux Falls Christian used a 12-0 run to take the lead. Five more turnovers in the second quarter allowed the Chargers to push the lead to 19 points and forced their hosts to play at an uncomfortable pace.
Not only did the press force mistakes, it prevented the Kernels from playing a half-court game and easily dumping the ball into the post.
“Half of (the turnovers) weren’t forced, they were on us,” Neuendorf said. “People in the stands were taking cover. It should have been ‘Helmet Night at the Palace’ because we were throwing it around and the ball was like a hot potato. I haven’t seen that in a long time and I don’t know what got into them.”
Sioux Falls Christian (8-1) made Mitchell pay for turnovers with 3-pointers in the first half and the Kernels compounded it by losing Xavier Van Beek in transition. Van Beek scored 21 of his 28 points in the first half, while hitting five of his six 3-pointers.
The 3-point barrage continued in the second half, but other Chargers jumped into the fray in crucial moments. Each time Mitchell managed to cut into the lead, Sioux Falls Christian buried a 3-pointer and extended the lead. The Kernels typically lean on a pair of premier shot-blockers lurking in the paint that allow perimeter defenders to take away outside shots, but the Chargers shot 51% from the field.
“They came out in the second half and made a good run, which was not what we wanted,” SFC head coach Mike Schoulten said. “We just had some kids that made timely shots when it seemed like it was getting tough. We made some of those shots to give us a little cushion and play more relaxed.”
When Mitchell did not hand the ball over to Sioux Falls Christian, the offense was steady, shooting 46.7% from beyond the arc and 48% overall.
Caden Hinker scored 16 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while Zane Alm added 14 points, five rebounds and four assists and Dylan Soulek had 12 points and five boards. Lucas Moller (3-for-3 from 3) and Ben Helleloid had nine and eight points, respectively.
“For a sophomore, I thought Dylan played relatively composed,” Neuendorf said. “So hopefully that’s a jump-start for Dylan.”
Tyler Prims had 19 pints, eight assists and four rebounds for Sioux Falls Christian, while Noah Van Donkersgoed had 11 points.
Mitchell returns to action against Class AA No. 4 Brandon Valley at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Corn Palace.”
Sioux Falls Christian 69, Mitchell 59
Sioux Falls Christian (8-1): Tyler Prims 6-12 4-5 18, Brooks Nelson 2-6 0-0 4, Noah Van Donkersgoed 4-7 2-2 11, Xavier Van Beek 11-18 0-0 28, Jaden Witte 1-5 0-0 2, Tate Snyder 2-2 0-2 6, Nathan Koole 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-51 6-9 69.
Mitchell (7-1): Caden Hinker 7-16 0-0 16, Zane Alm 6-13 1-2 14, Lucas Moller 3-3 0-0 9, Ben Helleloid 3-6 2-2 8, Dylan Soulek 5-9 1-2 12, Jonah Schmidt 0-1 0-0 0, Gavyn Degen 0-0 0-0 0, Steele Morgan 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-50 4-6 59.
SFC 18 38 53 69
MHS 10 22 43 59
3-pointers: SFC 11-21 (Van Beek 6-9, Snyder 2-2, Prims 2-4, Van Donkersgoed 1-3, Witte 0-1, Nelson 0-2), MHS 7-15 (Moller 3-3, Hinker 2-6, Soulek 1-1, Alm 1-4, Helleloid 0-1). Rebounds: SFC 25 (Witte 5), MHS 30 (Hinker 13). Assists: SFC 13 (Prims 8), MHS 15 (Helleloid 5). Steals: SFC 9 (Van Beek 3), MHS 3 (Three players with 1). Blocks: SFC 1 (Koole 1), MHS 4 (Alm 2). Fouls: SFC 11, MHS 14. Turnovers: SFC 13, MHS 20.
Sub-varsity scores: JV: Sioux Falls Christian 68, Mitchell 66. Freshmen: Mitchell ‘A’ 60, Sioux Falls Christian 52.