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It’s showtime: Kernel boys run through final checklist ahead of season opener

The high school basketball season is upon us in South Dakota, and today, the Mitchell High School boys basketball team looks to win its season opener for the first time since 2014.

Mitchell players Carter Jacobsen and Derek Factor (11) block the shot of Brookings forward Trevor Woodall (3) during a Feb. 6 game at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Mitchell players Carter Jacobsen and Derek Factor (11) block the shot of Brookings forward Trevor Woodall (3) during a Feb. 6 game at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

The high school basketball season is upon us in South Dakota, and today, the Mitchell High School boys basketball team looks to win its season opener for the first time since 2014.

It is the first game, but it's also the first game of a long season, which means the Kernels have plenty of time to adapt to their opponents and personnel.

In Friday's final full practice before hosting Huron at 7 p.m. tonight at the Corn Palace, Mitchell simply went through a list to tie up loose ends and ensure everyone is prepared for the first game of the season.

"We have a checklist that we go through and we make sure everything is in," MHS head coach Todd Neuendorf said. "We're practicing the warm-up that we'll do (before the game) and the last thing we'll do in practice is run through a two-point play if we need a two to win or a 3-point play if we have to run it at the end for a win."

The Kernels are scheduled to have another shootaround prior to the game to go through the game plan one last time, but Neuendorf does not want to overwhelm his players with too much information right off the bat.

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Mitchell only has five sets installed, compared to the 16 used at the end of last season. Not only does Neuendorf want his team to play more freely in the opener, but it also gives the coaching staff an opportunity to see what works and what doesn't before putting in plays that may not be used the remainder of the season.

"We're going to try to let them play the game a little more instead of being so deliberate on what we're going to run coming down the floor," Neuendorf said. "We're going to try not to overload them, but terminology-wise, they know everything. It's the same as last year."

While Mitchell may not have its entire repertoire installed yet, Neuendorf feels the team is miles ahead of where it was heading into the first game last season. Given it was the first under the current coaching regime, much of the practice time leading up to the game was spent installing new offenses and defenses, along with learning the terminology that goes with them.

Now, the Kernels understand what they are going to do and where to be on the court, so the coaches have been able to focus on which players to play in which situation.

"Kids understood what we were going to do and how we were going to play defensively," Neuendorf said. "That part was all faster, the difference this year is plugging and playing different kids and where we're going to put them. ... I think we're ahead of the game."

Mitchell may attempt to go through as much possible information prior to the game to help the players, but the coaching staff cannot help with nerves.

Seven of the 12 Kernels on the roster are freshmen or sophomores and it's unknown whether nervousness will play a factor until they take the court.

"If they're not nervous, there's something wrong with them," Neuendorf said. "You should have some butterflies. I have some butterflies. I won't sleep at all (Friday night), because I'm excited and ready to go. This is what you spend all those summer hours for."

Related Topics: KERNELSMITCHELL KERNELS
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