Mitchell girls struggle at the free-throw line in loss to Watertown

Mitchell girls basketball team shot 14-for-29 from the free-throw line in loss to the Arrows on Tuesday night.

Mitchell's Sawyer Stoebner drives past Watertown's Addi Johnston during an Eastern South Dakota Conference girls basketball game on Tuesday at the Civic Arena in Watertown. (Roger Merriam / Watertown Public Opinion)

WATERTOWN – The Mitchell girls basketball team’s offensive struggles continued in the 33-29 loss to Watertown on Tuesday at the Watertown Civic Arena.

The Kernels (0-2) had another slow start in the first quarter, scoring two points but their amoeba zone defense managed to hold Watertown (2-0) to just nine points in the first quarter. Mitchell would respond with a 15-point second quarter, but head coach Cole Knippling said they left points on the board going 4-for-15 from the free throw line in the first half.

“We got ourselves in the bonus by the end of the first quarter by being aggressive and getting to the rim and the free throw line, but we couldn’t convert,” Mitchell coach Cole Knippling said. “I love the shots we were getting, we got a ton of open looks and shots at the rim, but we just needed to get the ball to go in.”

As Mitchell entered the third quarter with a one point lead, Sarah Sebert and Sawyer Stoebner quickly found themselves in foul trouble that resulted in them sitting the majority of the third quarter. The Kernels struggled and only scored three points in the third quarter, relinquishing the lead they couldn’t manage to regain.

Stoebner finished with 11 points, six rebounds and five steals. Sebert, Taylor Giblin and Lauren Van Overschelde had five points each.


Mitchell finished the game shooting 7-for-38 from the field and left 15 points at the free throw line as they shot 14-for-29. Despite its own missed opportunities on offense, the Kernels held Watertown to 12-for-43 shooting and forced 14 turnovers.

“We did a really good job of anticipating on defense and getting in the passing lane,” Knippling said. “I thought our defense was consistently creating our offense. We were getting in transition, getting open looks and putting them in positions where they had to foul. I couldn’t be proud of the way we stepped up our defense.”

Watertown’s Jaida Young led all scorers with 13 points while Maddy Rohde had eight points and six rebounds.

The Kernels had seven steals and two blocks against the Arrows, but had its second straight outing of 17 turnovers. Mitchell has now lost its first two games of the season since 2016-17, but Knippling said he isn’t worried because the team is moving in the right direction.

“We fixed our defense because the last time we played against Huron, we were lifeless on the defensive end,” Knippling said. “Now the next step is to get our offense to come along. We left a lot of points at the rim and at the free-throw line so we have to make our practice reps game speed and game pressure so when the time comes we can convert.”

Mitchell hosts Brookings at 7 p.m. on Dec. 16 at the Corn Palace.

Mitchell's Lauren Van Overschelde brings the ball up the court against Watertown's Kayla Vohlken during an Eastern South Dakota Conference girls basketball game on Tuesday at the Civic Arena in Watertown. (Roger Merriam / Watertown Public Opinion)

Branden is a sports reporter that graduated from Purdue University Northwest with a bachelor's degree in communications and a focus in journalism. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 and covers prep and collegiate athletics. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Full-Court Press, providing a weekly web-exclusive look at high school basketball throughout all of South Dakota. Branden can be reached at and found on Twitter at @bhullreports.
What To Read Next
Get Local