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Kernels' upset chances stall against Sioux Falls Washington

SIOUX FALLS--Mitchell's chances of pulling an upset at the Class AA state girls basketball tournament never got off the ground Thursday in Sioux Falls.

Mitchell's Mandy Schmidt (22) drives past Sioux Falls Washington's Anna Goodhope (22) during the first round of the Class AA state tournament on Thursday afternoon at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls.(Matt Gade/Republic)
Mitchell's Mandy Schmidt (22) drives past Sioux Falls Washington's Anna Goodhope (22) during the first round of the Class AA state tournament on Thursday afternoon at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls.(Matt Gade/Republic)

SIOUX FALLS-Mitchell's chances of pulling an upset at the Class AA state girls basketball tournament never got off the ground Thursday in Sioux Falls.

A 18-0 start for top-seeded Sioux Falls Washington made sure of that.

But the Kernels battled and didn't wither away in a 67-34 Washington quarterfinal victory at the Premier Center and gave themselves some confidence heading to the consolation round today, where they'll take on Rapid City Central at 10 a.m. today at the Sioux Falls Arena.

"One of our big deals is our defense," said Mitchell coach Wes Morgan. "I felt in the first part of the game we didn't get that done. Our offense is mostly created through our defense and I thought we needed to bring our defense more, so that was the focus for us in the second half. For the most part, we did that and we played better defense."

From the start, Washington was too talented and too skilled on Thursday for the Kernels to keep pace, shutting out the Kernels 12-0 in the first quarter. Mitchell missed its first 11 shots and didn't find the basket until Mackenzie Miller converted a shot in the paint to put the Kernels on the board. Mitchell (6-18) shot 13 percent from the field in the first half and trailed 30-10 at halftime.

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But improved defense in the second half did arrive for Mitchell and the Kernels ate away at the lead. Jenna Weich scored six of eight points in a 8-2 run to help trim the lead to 13 points early in the third quarter. But Mitchell wouldn't get any closer and a 12-1 Washington (21-2) run put the game away.

"The biggest thing is that Mitchell team has gotten a lot better," said Washington coach Jamie Parish. "We've watched them on film a lot and they've gotten better from January to February to March. They're young but they're getting better. They had a gameplan and we had to take it away."

Mitchell's plan was to "take the air out of the ball," Morgan said, and try to run the shot clock down and shorten the number of possessions Washington had. But the 18-0 deficit blew that plan apart.

"At that point, you just have to play," he said.

When the Kernels opened things up, Jenna Weich provided the bulk of the scoring for Mitchell. She had six of the Kernels' 10 points in the first half and finished with 16 points for the game. Nobody else for the Kernels had more than five points, as Mitchell shot 32 percent for the game from the field. Mitchell hung with the Warriors in total rebounds for most of the game but it was the difference in offensive rebounds, including 13 for Washington and just four for Mitchell, that controlled the game.

"That was the killer," Morgan said. "They had the chances at offensive rebounds in the paint and they converted them."

Both Anna Goodhope and Sydney Arrington looked the part of reigning Class AA all-state players on Thursday for the Warriors. Goodhope was 7-of-13 shooting and scored a game-high 18 points. Arrington had 16 points, six rebounds and three blocks, controlling the paint all game.

"(Washington's) seniors are doing things that our freshmen aren't quite doing yet," Morgan said. "They've got that experience and our girls know those things but they're not doing them yet."

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But Mitchell will have a chance to roll some momentum forward into today's consolation semifinal game against Rapid City Central. The Kernels lost by 26 points in their first meeting this year in December but Morgan said his team has come a long ways.

"Going forward, the teams we're going to face, we can compete and hopefully we'll have some success," he said. "We can go out and get a win. We have to play the defense and if we do that, that will make things easier on the offensive end."

Mitchell's Jenna Weich (45) shoots around Sioux Fall Washington's Kelsi Kearney (12) during the first round of the Class AA state tournament on Thursday afternoon at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls.(Matt Gade/Republic)
Mitchell's Jenna Weich (45) shoots around Sioux Fall Washington's Kelsi Kearney (12) during the first round of the Class AA state tournament on Thursday afternoon at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls.(Matt Gade/Republic)

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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