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Kernel girls erase 13-point halftime deficit to top Spearfish

“The way we played in the first half, I hope we never play like that again. That was terrible,” said Sawyer Stoebner. “We weren’t playing as a team. We weren’t coming together and finishing. So it’s really big we won like that.”

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Mitchell's Camryn Krogman (14) goes up for a layup between a pair of Spearfish defenders on Saturday at the Corn Palace. (Jeremy Karll / Republic)

It was a second half to remember for the Mitchell High School girls basketball team.

The Class AA No. 5 Kernels didn’t hang their heads down 13 points to Spearfish at halftime. Instead, they tried to find a solution.

Mitchell found its identity as a hard-nosed defense and excellent offensive rebounding team in the second half. A sluggish start that made it face a double-digit deficit turned into an 11-point win, 60-49, on Saturday at the Corn Palace. It marks the Kernels’ 10th consecutive victory.

“The way we played in the first half, I hope we never play like that again. That was terrible,” said Sawyer Stoebner, whose 20 points all came in the second half. “We weren’t playing as a team. We weren’t coming together and finishing. So it’s really big we won like that.”
Coach Cole Knippling tells his team to play like a fist, rather than five individual fingers. The Kernels (13-2) resembled five fingers during a sluggish second quarter which featured uncharacteristic misses at the basket and free-throw line, while turning it over 13 times.

They didn’t score in the second quarter until 2:20 remained, and their first field goal came when Sarah Sebert, who scored 11 points off the bench, nailed a 3-pointer with 1:08 before halftime. Her pair of 3s were answered by Spearfish (5-10) scoring five points in the final 10 seconds to take a 30-17 lead and all the momentum into halftime.

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Despite facing its largest deficit of the game, Mitchell didn’t panic.

“What I liked when I walked into the locker room (at halftime) was they’re still talking to each other,” Knippling said. “They’re not sitting there pouting. They’re sitting there going, ‘What do we got to get done?’ ”

The Kernels increased their defensive intensity from the start by denying easy reversals and face-guarding Stella Marcus, who scored 21 points to keep Spearfish close once Mitchell went on a run. In a game when 52 fouls were called, Adaya Plastow fouled out midway through the fourth quarter, but Lizzie Tyler and Sebert stepped up defensively on Marcus.

The Spartans went from backdoor cuts leading to open layups, to offensive fouls and turning it over 17 times in the loss. Avia Haley had a team-high two steals for Mitchell.

“Our defense was lazy (in the first half),” said Macy Kempf, who had a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double. “We weren’t getting in the passing lanes, getting deflections. … We weren’t ready to play in the first half.”

The defense that held Spearfish to 27.3 percent shooting after the break fed Mitchell’s transition offense, as it started the quarter on a 6-0 run and outscored the Spartans 15-6 in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 35-33. Spearfish led 46-45 with 4:17 to play in the game, but Mitchell rattled off a 13-1 run to secure the win.

While the Kernels’ defense was a catalyst, they also turned their free-throw woes into a strength. It made 25 of 37 free throws, including 21 of 26 in the second half. Camryn Krogman went 7-for-8 at the charity stripe during her 12-point game.

Stoebner made 10 of 12, as her four offensive rebounds helped her draw fouls. She finished with nine boards, helping Mitchell own a 37-26 advantage on the glass and pull down 12 offensive rebounds.

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“Sawyer Stoebner is a beast on the rebounding,” Kempf said. “That girl works her butt off to go get the rebounds.”

It provided Mitchell with needed second chances and scoring with the clock stopped. And it flipped the script to keep the Kernels’ winning streak alive.

“I’m proud of how they responded and reacted at halftime,” Knippling said.

Mitchell travels to Harrisburg at 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 13.

Mitchell 60, Spearfish 49

Spearfish (5-10): Hannah Schoon 2-8 1-2 5, Stella Marcus 6-13 6-9 21, Kylie Stalder 0-0 2-4 2, Erin Rotert 3-7 2-3 8, Anna Engen 1-2 0-2 2, Maddi Dorin 3-4 0-0 6, Lilly McCarty 00-3 1-3 3, Maria Bouman 2-4 0-0 4. Team totals: 17-41 12-23 49.

Mitchell (13-2): Adaya Plastow 1-2 0-0 2, Avia Haley 0-4 0-0 0, Camryn Krogman 2-6 7-8 12, Sawyer Stoebner 5-10 10-12 20, Gabby Sonne 0-1 0-0 0, Taylor Giblin 0-1 0-0 0, Sarah Sebert 4-8 1-4 11, Macy Kempf 4-9 7-13 15, Mariyha Turner 0-0 0-0 0. Team totals: 16-42 25-37 60.

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S 11 30 25 49

MHS 10 17 33 60

3-pointers: S 3-14 (Marcus 3-8, Shoon 0-2, Rotert 0-2, McCarty 0-2); MHS 3-14 (Sebert 2-4, Krogman 1-3, Haley 0-4, Stoebner 0-1, Sonne 0-1, Giblin 0-1). Rebounds: S 26 (Bouman 4); MHS 37 (Kempf 10, Stoebner 9, Plastow 6). Assists: S 1; MHS 7. Blocked shots: S 2; MHS 1. Steals: S 10 (Marcus 6); MHS 4 (Haley 2). Turnovers: S 17; MHS 20. Total fouls: S 29; MHS 23.

Related Topics: BASKETBALL
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