Mitchell defense locks down Lincoln for second consecutive win

The Kernels limited Sioux Falls Lincoln to 28.8% shooting for the first win in the series since 2012.

Mitchell's Caden Hinker (20) puts down a dunk over Sioux Falls Lincoln's Alex Tong (55) during a game on Tuesday at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Tuesday’s tilt with Sioux Falls Lincoln was sloppy, rugged and physical. And Mitchell High School was right at home.

Moments into the game, Caden Hinker went through a crowd of Patriot defenders for a thunderous reverse dunk that announced the Kernels would not be intimidated. The defense followed and limited Lincoln to 28.8% shooting for the game.

After three games decided by single digits the last two seasons — including an overtime loss last year — Mitchell used an eight-point advantage in the third quarter to pull away for a 57-45 win. It was the first win over the Patriots since the Gary Munsen era, 56-49 win in the 2008 Class AA semifinals.

“In years past you were waiting for something to go wrong,” MHS head coach Todd Neuendorf said. “… We came out of the Huron game with a win, but we didn’t feel great about it. Tonight we came out with a win and feel much better. This is Game 2 and you saw the progress from Game 1 and we have to keep going up.”

Hinker propelled the Kernels to a fast start despite Zane Alm picking up two fouls early in the first quarter. The junior forward scored nine of his game-high 15 points in the first frame as Mitchell (2-0) quickly gained a 16-7 lead.


But quick shots led to misses and easy fastbreak baskets for Lincoln, which started the second quarter on a 10-2 run to cut the halftime lead to 23-19. The Kernels also shot 33.3% from the field and made half of their free throws in the first half.

“That’s one positive we can take away from this game — I did like the way they played defensively,” Lincoln head coach Jeff Halseth said. “They hit some 3s and have two good players inside. When they give you a little bit everything, they’re tough to beat.”

As Lincoln (0-2) began to provide multiple defenders for Hinker in the post, Mitchell began to spread the ball. Ben Helleloid hit a 3-pointer from the corner on the opening possession of the second half, while Lucas Moller connected from beyond the arc moments later.

Alm also began to get into the mix as he scored eight of his 10 points in the second half as the Kernels shot 10 of 17 in the second half.

As Mitchell was able to gain a double-digit lead heading into the fourth quarter, one of the few hiccups came when Todd Neuendorf picked up his first technical foul in more than two decades of coaching after tossing his face mask in objection to foul call.

Regardless, the Mitchell defense forced Lincoln to take difficult shots as the 6-foot-10 Alm and 6-foot-6 Hinker contested nearly every shot attempt near the rim, while the pair also combined for 21 rebounds.

“I think Zane really intimidates people and bullies them,” Neuendorf said. “... They’ll try him once and he blocks it with his elbow and they say, ‘I’m not going back down there.’ From that point on, they’re all looking over their shoulder to see if he’s coming. Hinker and Zane, all it takes is one block and they’re all looking over their shoulder.”

Hinker snatched 13 rebounds and dished out five assists, while Alm had eight rebounds, three blocks and three assists. Helleloid also chipped in eight points.


Surafel Berhanie was the lone Lincoln player in double figures with 13 points.

Mitchell returns to action against Rapid City Central at 7 p.m. Friday at the Corn Palace.

Mitchell 57, Sioux Falls Lincoln 45

Mitchell (2-0): Caden Hinker 6-16 2-6 15, Zane Alm 2-6 6-6 10, Lucas Moller 2-4 0-0 6, Ben Helleloid 2-6 1-3 8, Gavyn Degen 2-4 2-4 7, Jonah Schmidy 1-2 0-0 2, Charlie McCardle 1-1 0-0 2, Steele Morgan 1-2 5-6 7. Totals 18-41 16-25 57.

Sioux Falls Lincoln (0-2): Caleb Hiatt 3-8 3-6 9, Alex Tong 2-6 1-2 5, Ty Schafer 2-8 0-2 4, Surafel Berhanie 4-13 2-2 13, Kalil Cisse 2-5 0-0 4, Ryne Hammerstrom 1-2 2-2 5, Carter Brost 0-3 1-2 1, Jabril Muktar 0-0 2-2 2, Luke Smith 0-5 0-0 0, Cameron Jackson 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 15-52 11-18 45.

SFL 7 19 28 45

MHS 16 23 40 57


3-point field goals: MHS 5-14 (Moller 2-3, Degen 1-2, Helleloid 1-2, Hinker 2-6, Alm 0-1), SFL 4-18 (Berhanie 3-8, Hammerstrom 1-1, Schafer 0-2, Brost 0-2, Smith 0-2, Hiatt 0-3). Rebounds: MHS 34 (Hinker 13), SFL 37 (Tong 10). Assists: MHS 10 (Hinker 5), SFL 4 (Four players with 1). Steals: MHS 6 (Degen 2, McCardle 2), SFL 7 (Muktar 2, Tong 2). Blocks: MHS 4 (Alm 3), SFL 0. Fouls: MHS 16, SFL 19. Turnovers: MHS 10, SFL 11.

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