Mitchell’s first game provides breakout performances, areas to improve
An up-and-down season opener for the Kernels
It looked like a season opener for many parts of the Mitchell High School girls basketball team’s 65-59 loss to Huron on Saturday.
Sloppiness and foul trouble that resulted in 23 turnovers and 22 fouls were partially to blame for Mitchell’s inability to overtake the Tigers late in a close contest. Still, being able to cut a double-digit deficit to four points and a chance to make it a one-possession game with under two minutes to play highlighted the Kernels’ experience.
That experience and the fact it was their first game of the year has coach Cole Knippling expecting cleaner games this weekend when it travels to Rapid City Central and Stevens.
“I think a lot of those turnovers we won’t make Game 2 or Game 3,” Knippling said. “But Game 1, we were being careless with our passing a little bit. Our senior guards need to be better. Just want them to execute, be sharp and get us some buckets.”
The Kernels committed eight turnovers in the first quarter, and while they continued to struggle finding open looks, especially in the paint, they gave up the ball less frequently once they settled into the game.
For the offense to improve and not have a pair of 11-point quarters, Knippling pointed toward better execution on their set plays. Huron’s zone also made it tough for the Kernels to get the ball into the post.
“It did impact our plays quite a bit,” Mitchell guard Camryn Krogman said about Huron’s zone. “We weren’t able to get open on our plays, so it made it tough to get good looks and score.”
Krogman had the most success getting to the basket in the half-court during her 16-point performance. Macy Kempf finished with nine points, as she dealt with foul trouble for the entire game.
As every starter picked up multiple fouls, and three reached four fouls, Knippling was forced to experiment with new lineups. Sarah Sebert and Taylor Giblin continued giving Mitchell quality minutes off the bench, while Lizzie Tyler showed the ability to get to the free-throw line.
However, Knippling turned to freshman Sawyer Stoebner for a bench-high 16 minutes, 51 seconds. She started the second quarter and played down the stretch, oftentimes grabbing defensive rebounds and making hustle plays. Stoebner finished with seven points and four rebounds.
“(Stoebner is) really good around the rim. She has really long arms, so she really helped us on the rebounding,” Knippling said. “Defensively, she moves her feet well and she attacks the basket. Just seems like she has a nacht for making plays, and you feel confident with her out there.”
She provided a spark off the bench for a team looking for a momentum swing.
Huron ended Kernel runs with timely 3-pointers, but not every team will make 12 of 24 from deep against the Kernels. And when the Tigers tried to drive into the lane, Mitchell forced 22 turnovers and tough looks at the rim.
The Kernels need to fight over screens on shooters and Knippling hopes to see better help defense in the future, too. It was a mixed bag, which is expected early in the season, but Mitchell stayed in the game and had a shot at the end without playing their best basketball on either end of the floor.
Next up is a week of practice that could be telling of what type of mentality the Kernels have before heading to Rapid City Central on Friday.
“You’ll find out what kind of team you have based on how they come back,” Knippling said. “If they come back and they’re hungry to improve and get better, you know you have a good team. If they come back feeling sorry and not wanting to work hard, we’ll find somebody that does want to improve.”