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Kernels bounce Brookings behind second-half defense, notch double-digit wins for first time since 2012

Mitchell held Brookings to 21% shooting in the second half.

Mitchell_Brookings
Mitchell’s Lucas Moller (12) drops in a layup in transition as he’s fouled by Brookings’ Henry Hammrich (10) during the third quarter of the Kernels’ 64-42 loss to the Bobcats on Thursday night at Bob Jostad Gymnasium in Brookings. (Sean Patrick Welsh/Brookings Register)

BROOKINGS — Defense proved to be the difference as Mitchell High School reached double-digit wins for the first time since Gary Munsen’s final season eight years ago.

Early in the game, it did not appear to be a matchup between a team with one loss and a team with one win, as Brookings held a two-point advantage at the end of the first quarter. The Bobcats trailed by four at halftime, finding success on drives to the hoop against the Class AA No. 3 Kernels.

But Mitchell switched to a 2-3 matchup zone to start the third quarter and rattled off the first 11 points of the frame. The Kernels limited Brookings to six points in the fourth quarter and 16 in the half to come away with a 64-42 Eastern South Dakota Conference win.

“I don’t think we came out and played very crisp,” MHS head coach Todd Neuendorf said. “We got there, but we didn’t play like we needed to. … I told them I wanted to guard like (the zone) was man-to-man and I thought they did aggressively. Pretty good effort in the second half.”

After two torrid offensive performances, Mitchell (10-1) had a sluggish start against the Bobcats, shooting 33.3% from the field in the first half, while committing 10 turnovers.

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The Kernels managed to offset early shooting woes by drawing fouls and accumulating points at the free-throw line. They attempted 15 free throws in the first half and scored 13 of their 30 points from the line.

Caden Hinker was the biggest contributor, scoring 10 of his team-high 17 points — to go along with 10 rebounds and six assists — from the foul line to offset a 3-for-10 shooting performance in the game. In total Mitchell went 19-for-25 at the free-throw line, while Brookings (1-9) mustered six points at the line.

“There wasn’t a lot of energy in the gym. It was like a YMCA tournament atmosphere and we came out and added to it,” Neuendorf said. “We didn’t shoot in rhythm. We didn’t go inside-out, we went outside, outside, outside. We didn’t establish ourselves inside right away.”

Aided by their new defensive scheme, the Kernel offense found some rhythm, shooting 59.1% in the second half. Mitchell eventually placed three players in double figures, as Zane Alm had 13 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks and Dylan Soulek pitched in 12 points.

However, senior guard Lucas Moller sparked the offense by scoring all eight of his points in the third quarter after going scoreless in the first half. He also made a diving steal and from his knees, found a streaking Soulek for layup and a foul.

“Every time he shoots it, I feel pretty good,” Neuendorf said. “I know everyone is going to talk about his shots, but (on the steal) it was just Lucas out-working the Brookings kid. There’s little things that he does that people don’t see that are winning basketball plays.”

Nick Schefers scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Henry Hammrich chipped in 14 points for Brookings.

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Mitchell returns to action against Pierre at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Corn Palace.

Mitchell 64, Brookings 42

Mitchell (10-1): Caden Hinker 3-10 10-12 17, Zane Alm 5-10 3-6 13, Lucas Moller 3-5 0-1 8, Ben Helleloid 1-2 2-2 5, Dylan Soulek 5-9 2-2 12, Aiden Myers 1-1 0-0 2, Landon Waddell 0-0 0-0 0, Jackson Childs 0-0 2-2 2, Jonah Schmidt 0-0 0-0 0, Gavyn Degen 2-6 0-0 5, A.J. Siemsen 0-0 0-0 0, Charlie McCardle 0-0 0-0 0, Steele Morgan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-43 19-25 64.

Brookings (1-9): Nick Schefers 8-20 2-2 19, Brock Longville 0-2 0-0 0, Zach Moe 1-5 1-2 4, Casey Woodall 0-2 0-0 0, Henry Hammrich 5-17 3-6 14, Sam Hardin 0-0 0-0 0, Keegan Fields 0-1 0-0 0, Max Struck 2-5 0-0 5, Trey Svennes 0-0 0-0 0, Noah Bayer 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-53 6-10 42.

MHS 12 30 48 64

BHS 14 26 36 42

3-point field goals: MHS 5-15 (Moller 2-4, Helleloid 1-2, Degen 1-3, Hinker 1-5, Soulek 0-1), BHS 4-15 (Hammrich 1-3, Moe 1-3, Struck 1-4, Schefers 1-5). Rebounds: MHS 40 (Alm 12), BHS 24 (Schefers 6). Assists: MHS 13 (Hinker 6), BHS 3 (Hardin 2). Steals: MHS 7 (Moller 3), MHS 7 (Woodall 3). Blocks: MHS 5 (Alm 4), BHS 0. Fouls: MHS 12, BHS 18. Turnovers: MHS 18, BHS 12.

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