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Kernels plagued by turnovers in 'AA' consolation loss to Cobblers

SIOUX FALLS--Turnovers told the story for the Mitchell girls basketball team on Friday at the Class AA state tournament. And the story wasn't a pretty one. The 8-seed Kernels turned the ball over 34 times and saw a chance at victory slip away in ...

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Mitchell's Mackenzie Miller (42) and Rapid City Central's Karli O'Brien (15) scramble for a loose ball during the second round of the girls Class AA state tournament on Friday morning at the Sioux Falls Arena. (Matt Gade/Republic)

SIOUX FALLS-Turnovers told the story for the Mitchell girls basketball team on Friday at the Class AA state tournament.

And the story wasn't a pretty one.

The 8-seed Kernels turned the ball over 34 times and saw a chance at victory slip away in the consolation semifinals at the Sioux Falls Arena, losing to fifth-seeded Rapid City Central 54-37.

The turnovers plagued Mitchell throughout the game, as Rapid City Central made it difficult for Mitchell to bring the ball up the court with a full-court press. The Kernels had 19 turnovers in the first 16 minutes, matching their season average in one half.

"We just struggle getting the ball up on the press and we have to take care of the basketball," Mitchell coach Wes Morgan said. "We're a little shorter, so we have to pass through it but we have to pass it before we get trapped."

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For a second consecutive day, Mitchell had a slow start, falling behind 11-2 in the early minutes of the game. But Mitchell stayed in the contest by drawing 11 fouls against the Cobblers and making 8-of-12 free throws in the first half. Because of the solid free throw shooting from Mitchell, which was a 50 percent free-throw shooting team in the regular season, was within 10 at halftime.

Mitchell surged out of the halftime break with a 10-0 run, started by a 3-pointer from Brenna Morgan, three points from Mackenzie Miller on a basket and a free throw, a two-point shot from Jenna Weich and then Morgan again on a two-pointer that brought Mitchell even with 4:28 left in the third quarter at 26-26. But the Kernels' scoring spigot turned off there and RCC scored six more points to make it 32-26 heading to the final quarter.

A 14-3 run to start the fourth quarter broke it open for RCC in the fourth quarter, started with a 3-pointer from Abigail Johnson, who had 14 points off the bench for the Cobblers. Mya Jones had 17 points and five rebounds for RCC in the win to lead the way.

Cobbler head coach Kraig Blomme said his team turned up the pressure again after Mitchell tied the game and made a point to take over the game.

"We talked about when you lose that first round game but you have to come back and realize that you want to finish the season strong," Blomme said. "When Mitchell tied the game up, I think that was a real defining point for our girls because we came out and really dominated the game from that point on."

Freshman Mackenzie Miller had the standout day for Mitchell, scoring 15 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Erin Farnham had seven points, six rebounds and five assists for the Kernels in the loss.

Mitchell was 11-of-29 shooting for 38 percent and made 2-of-8 3-point tries. The Kernels converted 13-of-19 free throws in the game and outrebounded RCC 28-27. The Cobblers were 20-of-55 shooting for 36 percent, made 5-of-20 3-pointers and made 9-of-12 free throws.

Morgan said weaknesses get exposed in the state tournament and the fundamentals will remain an emphasis for the Kernels in the offseason.

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"We have to get a little more fundamentally sound and we have to grow our kids, quite frankly. We have kids that aren't real big and we expect them to know things and they're just freshmen. I'm not using that as an excuse because they've had a whole year to get it but it's a whole new atmosphere here and it takes a while to get it."

For now, Mitchell will focus on seventh place at the state tournament, which they can earn today in a 10 a.m. game against Sioux Falls Roosevelt at the Sioux Falls Arena. The Rough Riders fell to Rapid City Stevens 43-41 in the other consolation semifinal Friday.

"They'll come back," Morgan said of his team. "We'll be fine. For one quarter, we scared Central and hopefully we can make another run, this time at the end of the game and close one out."

Rapid City Central (15-9)

Emma Burns 4-9 0-0 8, Juneau Jones 1-3 0-0 2, Michelle Johnson 1-1 0-0 2, Sara Hougland 0-0 0-0 0, Mya Jones 6-9 5-6 17, Abigail Johnson 4-11 3-4 14, Maddison Sullivan 2-8 0-0 5, Karli O'Brien 0-5 0-0 0, Cassie Hand 1-2 0-0 3, Bailey Johnson 1-6 0-0 2, Lexus Eagle Chasing 0-0 1-2 1, Carlie Wolf 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-55 9-12 54

Mitchell (6-19)

Jenna Weich 1-2 2-2 4, Mackenzie Miller 6-9 3-5 15, Kendra Brewster 0-1 0-0 0, Brenna Morgan 2-5 0-0 5, Payton Morgan 0-0 0-0 0, Chelsea Brewster 0-1 2-2 2, Mandy Schmidt 0-0 0-0 0, Tess Limberg 0-1 1-2 1, Erin Farnham 1-5 5-8 7, Jordyn Cranny 1-5 0-0 3, Shianne Hiemstra 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-29 13-19 37

Rapid City Central 16 26 32 54

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Mitchell 7 16 26 37

FG%: RCC .364, Mitchell .379. 3-pt FG: RCC 5-20 (Johnson 3-8, Sullivan 1-5, O'Brien 0-2, Hand 1-2, Johnson 0-3), Mitchell 2-8 (Morgan 1-3, Cranny 1-5). Rebounds: RCC 27 (Jones 6), Mitchell 28 (Miller 8). Fouls: RCC 19, Mitchell 14. Fouled out: none. Technical: none. Assists: RCC 16 (Burns 3, Jones 3, Sullivan 3, O'Brien 3), Mitchell 10 (Farnham 5). Steals: RCC 19 (Sullivan 5), Mitchell 7 (Schmidt 3). Blocked shots: RCC 1 (Johnson 1), Mitchell 0. Turnovers: RCC 16, Mitchell 34.

Related Topics: KERNELSGIRLS BASKETBALL
Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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