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Kernels figuring out roles and rotations

After a 1-7 start to the season, the Mitchell boys basketball team has won two out of its last three games. The month of January did not start well for the Kernels, as Mitchell dropped its first three games of the month by an average of 16 points...

Mitchell head coach Erik Skoglund, center, draws up a play during a timeout during a high school boys basketball game earlier this season at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. (Eric Mayer/Republic)
Mitchell head coach Erik Skoglund, center, draws up a play during a timeout during a high school boys basketball game earlier this season at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. (Eric Mayer/Republic)

After a 1-7 start to the season, the Mitchell boys basketball team has won two out of its last three games.

The month of January did not start well for the Kernels, as Mitchell dropped its first three games of the month by an average of 16 points. But the tide has turned for the Kernels.

In its last contest, Mitchell earned its most dominating win of the season picking up a 61-44 Eastern South Dakota Conference win over Harrisburg on Tuesday.

The Kernels (3-8, 2-4 ESD) also picked up their first home victory of the season against Brookings 64-53 on Jan. 12 and only trailed No. 3 Pierre by six points entering the fourth quarter on Jan. 14.

In the Kernels' win over the Bobcats, there was no need to empty the bench late in the game, as a season-low eight players saw action on the floor. Mitchell's starting five-Jed Schmidt, Connor Morgan, Elijah Pommer, Gray Determan and Wyatt Smith-all played more than 21 minutes. Carter Cavanaugh, Kyle Jamison and Mitch Price, who have come off the bench in every game this season, were the only bench players to see time on the floor against Brookings.

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The same eight players saw the majority of minutes against Pierre and Harrisburg.

"Everyone has been playing better," said Mitchell head coach Erik Skoglund while discussing if he has found a winning formula with an eight-player rotation. "If everyone just brought their average game, they'd just be pieces and we could just mix and match the pieces together, but that's not what you get. Every coach in the business understands that."

Mitchell has also experienced a drastic increase in scoring in the past three games. After averaging 41 points in the first three games in January, the Kernels have reached 60 points in the past three games for an increase of 20 more points per game.

"We've gotten better as a team," Skoglund said. "We've been more patient and we've set more ball screens with this offense because of our personal."

Along with scoring more points, Mitchell has been shooting a higher percentage from the field in its last three games. The Kernels shot higher than 40 percent from the field in the last three games after shooting more than 40 percent only once before the win over Brookings.

Skoglund said the Kernels aren't making as many 3-pointers as he'd like to see but that the team is finding ways to adapt.

"Our whole coaching staff is looking at every nook and cranny to get the potential out of all of these guys and to tweak our offense and defense with certain personal," Skoglund said. "We know where we want to be."

Morgan, who is averaging just over five points per game, had a simpler approach to the Kernels' recent uptick.

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"Everything comes off our energy and effort," Morgan said. "We need to keep our composure and confidence. We can't let the bad things get to us."

The Kernels host Aberdeen Central on Tuesday at the Corn Palace.

Related Topics: KERNELSBASKETBALL
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