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Kernel boys ready to compete

There won't be any shortage of leadership for the Mitchell High School boys basketball team this season. That's encouraging news for Erik Skoglund, who will enter his fourth year as the head coach of the Kernels. "These guys have had 10 outstandi...

Mitchell's Connor Morgan looks to go up with the basketball during a game last year at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. (Eric Mayer/Republic)
Mitchell's Connor Morgan looks to go up with the basketball during a game last year at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. (Eric Mayer/Republic)

There won't be any shortage of leadership for the Mitchell High School boys basketball team this season.

That's encouraging news for Erik Skoglund, who will enter his fourth year as the head coach of the Kernels.

"These guys have had 10 outstanding practices and it's a tribute to our senior leaders, who haven't let the underclassmen get down on themselves or let exhaustion creep into their game," said Skoglund, mentioning many of his players were a part of the state champion football team. "Their leadership has shown in our first 10 practices and our first week."

After a season of struggles and a 5-18 record, Mitchell is hoping to build off last year's growing pains. Despite have so few wins, the Kernels only fell one game short of reaching the Class AA state tournament.

"We are seeing guys playing together and knowing their roles," said Connor Morgan, who emerged as Mitchell's top scoring threat last year. "We are focused on playing basketball the right way."

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Morgan, who averaged 10.8 points per game as a junior, is one of three returning starters for Mitchell, along with Jed Schmidt and Elijah Pommer. Schmidt led the team with 66 assists last year and added 5.3 points per game, while Pommer had 34 assists and played in every game for the Kernels last year.

Junior Carter Cavanaugh also returns for the Kernels after seeing plenty of playing time as a sophomore. Cavanaugh averaged 5.8 points per game and was a reliable 3-point shooter.

"Those guys are so skilled and have a great work ethic," said Skoglund about his top four returning players. "That is why they are so successful in other sports like football and baseball. Their athleticism and understanding what team sports are all about will help lead this team."

Cody Reichelt, Ryland DeVries and Sam Mock all return as letterwinners and Skoglund said all of his players will share a variety of responsibilities on the court this season.

"Everyone does shooting drills, everyone does dribbling drills, everyone does post drills and everyone does passing drills. These guys are players," Skoglund said. "We are putting more pressure off the ball movement rather than our dribble-drive. We'll be attacking, attacking, attacking and we're only going to get better."

After averaging 51 points per game and allowing 63 points per game, Mitchell will be looking to create more offense and lock down defensively.

"We have been stressing our new read-and-react offense," Skoglund said. "We have to get more open in-rhythm layups and we have to get more open threes."

Skoglund added his team will stress ball movement and finding the open shot. On defense, the Kernels will throw a variety of looks, but will also have to work hard for every rebound.

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"It's always team defense," Skoglund said. "If you can't knock it down from the outside, you're going to struggle against our pack-line defense. We'll have to see how long we can play man-to-man, how long we can play zone and then we'll trap."

Mitchell opens the season with four straight home games, with the opener against Aberdeen Central on Dec. 13 at the Corn Palace. The Kernels will also compete in the Mike Miller Classic, facing Sioux Falls O'Gorman on Dec. 29 in the Corn Palace and then will face either DeLeSalle (Minnesota) or IMG Academy (Florida) on Dec. 30 at the Sanford Pentagon.

"We may be undersized, but our hearts are bigger," Morgan said. "The will to win will keep us playing hard and keep us in games."

Related Topics: KERNELSBASKETBALL
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