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Mitchell boys come up short against Thunder Basin in Hoop City Classic

Thunder Basin used 20-6 second quarter surge to gain a lead it would never surrender on Tuesday night.

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Mitchell Kernel boys against Thunder Basin (Wyo.) during a game on Tuesday in the Hoop City Classic at the Corn Palace. Matt Gade / Mitchell Republic
Matt Gade

Ball movement had helped the Mitchell High School boys basketball team win three-straight games to start its season, but on Tuesday night, the ball was stuck.

Playing its second contest in eight hours, Thunder Basin, a program from Gillette, Wyoming, knocked off the Kernels, 61-53, on the strength of its defense and a strong second-quarter showing in the Hoop City Classic at the Corn Palace.

For having played a hotly contested game earlier on Tuesday afternoon, a narrow 48-46 loss to First Assembly Christian (Tenn.), the Bolts hardly looked like a side in need of energy.

“We hoped they'd be a little fatigued, but they were not at all,” said Mitchell coach Ryker Kreutzfeldt of his team's opposition. “Truthfully, they played harder than us.”

Thunder Basin, the top-ranked team in Wyoming's 4A division, did jump on the Kernels early, but a 13-0 run through the middle and late stages of the first quarter boosted Mitchell to a 17-12 advantage after eight minutes.

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But the second quarter went definitively in the Bolts’ favor. A buzzer-beating 3-pointer by guard Deegan Williams punctuated a period in which Thunder Basin outscored the Hoop City hosts 20-6 to take a nine-point lead into the locker room.

The second half was a story of the Bolts maintaining their advantage, which they did with aplomb despite the Kernels’ efforts.

GALLERY: Mitchell Kernel boys against Thunder Basin (Wyo.) on Tuesday in the Hoop City Classic
In the third quarter, a sequence that included a long 3-pointer and a dunk by Caden Hinker brought the score to 41-35 in favor of Thunder Basin, but a string of empty offensive trips let the Bolts extend the lead back to 11 after the first possession of the fourth quarter.

“We left some points out there, I believe,” Kreutzfeldt said.

Pairs of Hinker free throws brought Mitchell within six points twice more late through the final frame, but Thunder Basin remained composed and offered an answer for each mini-surge to put the game out of reach.

“I thought they just executed better than us,” Kreutzfeldt said. “We got into half court motion and weren’t doing a good job moving without the basketball or screening — things that, when we look good, that’s what we’re doing.”

Hinker’s 18 points and 11 rebounds paced the Kernels, as Steele Morgan added 14 points and five rebounds and Gavyn Degen chipped in eight points.

Ethan Cox matched Hinker with 18 points for the Bolts, as Williams and Kayden LaFramboise added 15 and 13 points, respectively. The Bolts continue a run of four Hoop City Classic games in three days with a matchup against Houston (Tenn.) Wednesday afternoon at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.

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Mitchell hosts Campbell County (Wyo.) in its second and final Hoop City Classic contest at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Corn Palace.

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at ldierks@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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