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Big offensive effort helps Kernel boys fly past Yankton for Class AA consolation win

Mitchell improves to 15-8 with a game featuring balanced, efficient scoring

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Mitchell's Dylan Soulek (23) attacks the basket between Yankton's Rugby Ryken (4) and Mac Ryken (3) during the first half of a Class AA boys basketball consolation semifinal contest on Friday, March 18, 2022, at the Premier Center, in Sioux Falls.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

SIOUX FALLS — If any questions existed about the Mitchell High School boys basketball team’s readiness — physically and mentally — for a consolation semifinal contest less than 24 hours after a triple-overtime marathon with Harrisburg, they were answered swiftly once the ball was tipped Friday afternoon.

Behind a dominant 16-minute stretch across the second and third quarters that saw Mitchell outscore Yankton 34-17, the Kernels created the cushion necessary to see off the Bucks, 66-56, inside the Premier Center and advance to Saturday’s Class AA fifth-place game.

“Truthfully, I didn’t think we’d be able to come out with that much energy, focus and juice,” said Mitchell coach Ryker Kreutzfeldt. “They totally surpassed my expectations and I’m just so impressed. That shows a lot about these guys. They’re working to put their seniors out on top.”

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Mitchell's Aiden Myers drives past Yankton's Mac Ryken during the second half of a Class AA boys basketball consolation semifinal contest on Friday, March 18, 2022, at the Premier Center, in Sioux Falls.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

Mitchell had a 15-9 second quarter to build a nine-point halftime lead and then outscored Yankton 19-8 over the third 8-minute session, leading by as many as 23 points late in the third quarter. It capped a first half where the Kernels shot nearly 70% from the field, converting 16-of-23 shots.

“[Mitchell girls basketball] coach Knippling told me this morning, ‘You just need to win that first quarter,’” Kreutzfeldt said. “We wanted to throw the first punch, and we did. Then we threw a couple more after that. They threw the last one, but luckily we had a big enough cushion to hold on.”

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Mitchell threatened to throw a decisive knockout blow in the third quarter, as a pair of 3-pointers my Steele Morgan pushed the advantage to 49-32 midway through the period. A stepback jump shot by Soulek with two minutes to play in the quarter elevated the lead past the 20-point threshold.

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Mitchell's Steele Morgan goes up for a layup in front of a Yankton defender during the second half of a Class AA boys basketball consolation semifinal contest on Friday, March 18, 2022, at the Premier Center, in Sioux Falls.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

Yankton muscled their way back into the game late, cutting what was a 23-point lead at its largest down to nine with 95 seconds to play, but fell quiet over the final minute and a half as Mitchell closed out the victory.

Senior Caden Hinker had a double-double for a second consecutive day with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Morgan joined him with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Dylan Soulek had 17 points, as all three dished out four assists. Charlie McCardle had 11 points and six rebounds for the Kernels.

The Kernels shot 58.7% overall for the game, while holding the Bucks (13-10) to 41% for the day. Rugby Ryken had a game-high 25 points, while Mac Ryken scored 11 for the Bucks. For a second consecutive day, Mitchell held a huge edge in rebounds at 38 to 16.

“We just know we need to get to the boards and we got it done,” Morgan said of Mitchell's dominance on the glass through two state tournament games.

Mitchell (15-8) will play for fifth place in Class AA at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday against Sioux Falls Lincoln. The Kernels defeated Lincoln, 66-60, in overtime on Jan. 29 at the Corn Palace.

“After that game tomorrow, one team gets a trophy and the other team gets a plaque,” Soulek said. “I can tell you right now we're going out there to win that trophy. We’ve worked so hard this season and feel like we deserve that trophy, even if it’s not for first place.”

Mitchell 66, Yankton 56
Mitchell (15-8): Steele Morgan 7-11 0-0 17, Charlie McCardle 5-6 0-1 11, Gavyn Degen 0-0 0-0 0, Dylan Soulek 8-12 1-2 17, Caden Hinker 6-14 5-7 18, Jackson Childs 0-0 0-0 0, Aiden Myers 0-2 0-1 0, Gavin Soukup 1-1 0-0 3, Colton Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-46 6-11 66
Yankton (13-11): Jaden Kral 4-6 0-0 8, Cody Oswald 0-1 1-2 1, Michael Mors 2-5 0-0 4, Rugby Ryken 11-20 1-1 25, Dylan Prouty 0-5 0-0 0, Colton Potts 0-0 0-0 0, Drew Ryken 3-8 0-0 7, Mac Ryken 3-10 3-4 11, Cooper Grotenhuis 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-56 5-7 56
Mitchell 22 37 56 66
Yankton 19 28 36 56
FG%: Mitchell .587, Yankton .411. 3-pt FG: Mitchell 6-17 (Morgan 3-4, McCardle 1-1, Soulek 0-3, Hinker 1-7, Myers 0-1, Soukup 1-1), Yankton 5-23 (Kral 0-1, Oswald 0-1, Ryken 2-6, Prouty 0-4, Ryken 1-5, Ryken 2-6). Rebounds: Mitchell 38 (Hinker 13), Yankton 16 (Ryken 5). Fouls: Mitchell 10, Yankton 15. Fouled out: none. Assists: Mitchell 16 (Morgan 4, Soulek 4, Hinker 4), Yankton 9 (Ryken 5). Steals: Mitchell 2 (Soulek 1, Soukup 1), Yankton 9 (Ryken 4). Blocked shots: Mitchell 1 (Hinker 1), Yankton 1 (Kral 1). Turnovers: Mitchell 17, Yankton 6.

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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