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Mitchell boys outlast Campbell County in Hoop City Classic shootout

Caden Hinker, Steele Morgan lead the Kernels to their first win in the holiday basketball classic since 2012.

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

For the first time in 15 tries, the Mitchell High School boys emerged victorious in a Hoop City/Mike Miller Classic contest.

After falling to Thunder Basin (Wyo.) on Day 1 of the Hoop City Classic, the Kernels defeated Campbell County, another Wyoming-based program, 84-79 on Wednesday night at the Corn Palace, powered by their best offensive output in seven years.

While the Kernels relied on their half-court motion — an area much improved from the night before — to get open shots, many around the rim, the Camels were firing from 3-point range.

“The guys really took it upon themselves to make sure they were moving and screening,” said Mitchell coach Ryker Kreutzfeldt. “I thought we did a really nice job of that, and then guys were making shots when they needed to. It was a great improvement today.”

GALLERY: Kernel boys knock off Campbell County (Wyo.) in Hoop City Classic
Campbell County made 10 3-point field goals in its loss to Yankton on Tuesday, but nearly matched that total in the first half Wednesday, sinking nine long distance shots in the opening 16 minutes.

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But for the Camels’ hot shooting from the outside, Mitchell maintained a small advantage, leading 21-19 after the first quarter and 45-41 at halftime.

Up-to-date stories, photos and statistics for Mitchell boys basketball's 2021-2022 season
The visitors briefly took the lead in the third quarter after a Rylan Robertson triple tied the game at 57 and Austin Crimm hit another 30 seconds later to make it 60-57 in favor of the Camels. Moments later, Caden Hinker sank a 3-pointer from the right wing and was fouled. He converted the ensuing free throw to put the Kernels up 63-60, an advantage Mitchell would not give up.

Layups by Hinker, Macon Larson and Steel Morgan put the Kernels up 71-60 early in the fourth quarter, and from there, Mitchell closed out its first win in the event since 2012. It was also Mitchell’s third win over an out-of-state program in the event’s history and the most points a Kernel team has scored since a 90-83 win over Rapid City Central on Dec. 19, 2014.

“It’s fun if you win, not so much if you lose,” Kreutzfeldt said. “But it’s good for our guys to see these teams and players from out of state. It’s just such a fun event.”

Four Kernels reached double figures in scoring, led by Hinker’s 28 points. Morgan recorded 20 points, while Larson and Dylan Soulek added 15 and 12 points, respectively. With the effort, Hinker moved into second place all-time in MHS boys basketball scoring, passing Tyson Theeler's mark of 1,192 points. Mike Miller has the career school scoring record with 1,724.

Robertson led the Camels with 21 points, all on 3-pointers, as Jason Fink added 18, including four 3s. All told, Campbell County made 16 3-point field goals, an event record.

“It’s hard to play against a team when they’re just making threes every single time down, and we’re not a team that shoots a lot of threes,” Kreutzfeldt said. “It’s a battle and our guys just found a way to win.”

Mitchell hosts Harrisburg at the Corn Palace on Jan. 4.

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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