SIOUX FALLS — Missed layups. Dropped passes. A defensive miscue.
Details that normally go unnoticed resulted in Mitchell High School’s fourth loss in five games, this time in a 57-49 game against Class AA No. 1 Sioux Falls Washington on Tuesday.
The Kernels missed five open layups in the first half and committed eight turnovers, seven coming on unforced errors. Still, the Warriors could only muster a four-point advantage at halftime.
In the second half, however, Washington’s dribble penetration shifted the Mitchell defense, allowing for easy dump-off passes or offensive rebounds for easy baskets. The Kernels were forced to play from behind and could not catch up.
“When you play the elite teams, those little things add up,” MHS head coach Todd Neuendorf said. “All those things combined cost us, otherwise it was a pretty even basketball game. … If we make the (layups), then we aren’t talking about being offensively challenged. We have to figure out ways to finish games off.”
For the first time in more than a month, an opponent attempted to guard Zane Alm with one defender. The Warriors used 6-foot-8, 310-pound Kael Miedema and 6-foot-6 Angok Akot on Alm, but neither had much success guarding him.
Entering the season with three made 3-pointers, Alm knocked down a pair in the first half and was Mitchell’s go-to scorer in the second half. The 6-10 senior scored the first six points of the fourth quarter for the Kernels and had 10 of his game-high 23 points in the final frame.
With Miedema holding a strength advantage, Alm relied upon jump hooks, 15-foot jumpers and used his quickness to drive around defenders as he finished 8 of 13 from the field.
“I’ve been getting double and triple-teamed all year,” Alm said. “Finally getting to go one-on-one with a guy is nice to see. If I could get that every game, it’d be nice.”
Although Alm was in a groove, Mitchell (13-6) could not find a consistent secondary option. Caden Hinker was double-teamed every time he touched the ball and was limited to eight points on 4 of 9 shooting.
Meanwhile, Washington (14-1) had multiple scoring options, with five players pitching in at least seven points. The lone Warrior in double figures, though, was Eli Williams, who scored 11 of his 18 points in the third quarter.
Each time the Kernels were able to pull within a possession, it was Williams that returned fire. He traded 3-pointers with Lucas Moller in the third quarter and was also strong on the boards, as four of his six rebounds were offensive.
“I messed up and missed him coming in and he posted up a small guy,” Neuendorf said. “We missed a shot and he dribbled into a 3. He’s really capable of doing that, but they’re a good basketball team and they’ve got a whole bunch of guys that can make shots. Our guys did what they were asked to and I thought it was good enough to win, we just have to seal the deal on a couple things.”
Hinker grabbed nine rebounds, while Dylan Soulek chipped in eight points and three steals.
Miedema, Tahj Two Bulls and Joe Uttecht had eight points apiece for the Warriors.
Mitchell returns to action against Aberdeen Central in the final game of the regular season at 7 p.m. Friday at the Corn Palace.
Sioux Falls Washington 57, Mitchell 49
Mitchell (13-6): Caden Hinker 4-9 0-0 8, Zane Alm 8-13 5-7 23, Lucas Moller 2-4 0-0 6, Ben Helleloid 1-11 0-0 2, Dylan Soulek 3-4 2-3 8, Jonah Schmidt 0-0 0-0 0, Gavyn Degen 0-1 0-0 0, Charlie McCardle 1-3 0-0 2, Steele Morgan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-45 7-10 49.
Sioux Falls Washington (14-1): Mikele Kambalo 1-6 2-2 4, Joe Uttecht 2-4 3-4 8, Akok Aguer 2-7 2-2 7, Eli Williams 8-12 0-0 18, Tahj Two Bulls 3-7 0-0 8, Angok Akot 1-1 2-4 4, Kael Miedema 4-8 0-0 8. Totals 21-45 9-12 57.
MHS 12 22 34 49
SFW 14 26 41 57
3-point field goals: MHS 4-11 (Alm 2-2, Moller 2-4, Degen 0-1, Helleloid 0-1, McCardle 0-1, Hinker 0-2); SFW 6-14 (Williams 2-3, Two Bulls 2-5, Uttecht 1-1, Aguer 1-2, Miedema 0-1, Kambalo 0-2). Rebounds: MHS 27 (Hinker 9); SFW 25 (Williams 6). Assists: MHS 11 (Helleloid 5); SFW 10 (Kambalo 3, Uttecht 3). Steals: MHS 6 (Soulek 3); SFW 3 (Kambalo 2). Blocks: MHS 4 (Alm 2, Hinker 2); SFW 1 (Two Bulls 1). Fouls: MHS 14; SFW 12. Turnovers: MHS 12; SFW 10.
Sub-varsity: Freshmen: Mitchell ‘A’ 68, Sioux Falls Washington 47. Mitchell ‘B’ 38, Sioux Falls Washington 32.