Mitchell used a suffocating defense to snap its three-game losing skid on Friday.

The Kernels held Aberdeen Central to a season-low 42 points in their 54-42 Eastern South Dakota Conference boys basketball win at the Corn Palace. Mitchell (14-6) also snapped a three-game losing streak in its regular season finale.

“This is definitely a big one,” Mitchell junior forward Caden Hinker said. “We really wanted to get one going in (the postseason). It gives you a little bit of momentum.”

The Kernels will host a SoDak 16 contest on March 6, with their opponent to be determined. The winner will advance to the State AA boys basketball tournament on March 18-20 in Rapid City.

On Friday, the Kernels smothered Aberdeen Central’s 3-point shooters to key their defensive effort. The Golden Eagles (10-9) finished 6 of 18 from beyond the arc, while sharpshooter Harrison Reede was held to 2 of 7 shooting 3-pointers.

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“I thought tonight our defense set the tempo,” Mitchell coach Todd Neuendorf said. “We didn’t let Harry get going and if he gets going, you’ve got a problem and he was the focus of what we were going to do.”

Neuendorf praised Lucas Moller for containing Reede from the perimeter. In the paint, 6-foot-10 Zane Alm swatted three of Mitchell’s five blocked shots. For the game, Aberdeen Central finished 16 of 49 (32%) from the field.

“They have a lot of shooters,” Hinker said. “So it was just getting up and making them put it on the floor. We always got Zane sitting back there and he will protect the rim for us. It’s just really to make them put it on the floor and make them hit tough shots.”

Alm and Hinker combined for 15 of Mitchell’s 31 rebounds. They also helped limit the Golden Eagles to one shot time and time again. The Kernels finished with 25 defensive rebounds.

But Neuendorf said it wasn’t just the two big men controlling the boards.

“I thought our guards rebounded well, also,” Neuendorf said. “Dylan Soulek is kind of an unsung hero on the boards. He’s got nice long arms and you can see he is getting better and better. He’s getting to be one of those guys I have a hard time taking off the floor.”

Hinker finished with game-highs in points (20), rebounds (8) and assists (7). Hinker’s seven assists contributed to Mitchell’s 15 assists on 21 made field goals.

“I think it’s because I let the game come to me,” Hinker said about his assists. “The dudes did a good job of cutting when they gave it to me and I really just found them.”

The Kernels led 25-17 at halftime and their lead shrunk to 25-22 less than 45 seconds into the second half. But Hinker, Alm and Moller combined for seven straight points to push it back to double digits. Mitchell’s lead never dipped below nine points the rest of the way.

Aberdeen Central’s Sam Rohlfs finished with 13 points on 6 of 20 shooting from the field.

Mitchell 54, Aberdeen Central 42

Aberdeen Central (10-9): Harrison Reede 3-9 2-7 0-0 8, Alec Voegele 3-5 0-0 7, Noah Behrends 1-4 2-2 5, Sam Rohlfs 6-20 0-0 13, AJ Hase 1-3 0-0 2, Jackson Dorsett 1-1 1-1 4, Brady Rohrbach 1-2 1-2 3. Totals 16-49 4-5 42.

Mitchell (14-6): Caden Hinker 8-13 0-0 20, Zane Alm 4-10 2-2 8, Lucas Moller 2-4 0-0 6, Ben Helleloid 3-6 0-0 6, Dylan Soulek 2-5 3-4 7, Jonah Schmidt 0-1 1-2 1, Steele Morgan 2-3 2-3 6. Totals 21-44 6-8 54.

AC 8 17 33 42

M 10 25 44 54

3-point field goals: AC 6-18 (Reede 2-7, Voegele 1-1, Rohlfs 1-5, Dorsett 1-1); M 6-16 (Hinker 2-5, Alm 0-1, Moller 2-4, Soulek 0-1, Morgan 2-3). Rebounds: AC 25 (Reede 5, Voegele 5, Hase 5); M 31 (Hinker 8). Assists: AC 6 (Voegele 2, Rohlfs 2); M 15 (Hinker 7). Steals: AC 6 (Hase 2); M 2 (Alm 1, Helleloid 1). Blocked shots: AC 1; M 5 (Alm 3). Turnovers: AC 14; M 12. Total fouls: AC 15; M 12.