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Harrisburg holds off Kernels in Class AA quarterfinal triple-overtime thriller

Mitchell battles through 12 extra minutes, but can't overcome 23 turnovers and rough day shooting free throws.

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Mitchell's Dylan Soulek (23) rises to the basket during a Class AA boys basketball state tournament quarterfinal game on Thursday, March 17, 2022, at the Premier Center, in Sioux Falls.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

SIOUX FALLS — At a glance, the boys basketball teams from Mitchell High School and Harrisburg High School could not be more evenly matched, with both owning 14-7 records as well as notching identical marks for points scored (63.6 per game) and points allowed (56.1).

As such, it only made sense that the fifth-seeded Kernels and fourth-seeded Tigers traded blows all afternoon, needing overtime — this time three periods of it — for the second-straight state tournament meeting to separate the two Eastern South Dakota Conference rivals.

But the marathon Class AA quarterfinal ended in heartbreak for No. 5 Mitchell, as a Jacoby Mehrman layup with five seconds to play in the third overtime allowed No. 4 Harrisburg to slip into the state semifinals with a 78-77 victory Thursday inside the Premier Center.

“That’s probably going to be the most exciting game of the tournament. Unfortunately, we come out on the losing side of it,“ said Mitchell coach Ryker Kreutzfeldt. “I was just really proud of the way they fought. (Caden) Hinker just played 44 minutes and a lot of guys played 40-plus. That’s incredibly hard to do. There’s a lot to be said about the guys we have and the way they fought tonight.”

“We didn’t come here to get second, we didn’t come here to get fifth and we definitely didn’t come here to get eighth,” Kreutzfeldt continued. “We came here to win, we just didn’t do that tonight. I just hope these guys understand that all the work they put into this, it’s hard to get here, hard to play in a state tournament and it’s sure as heck hard to win. They should be proud of themselves.”

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As the overtimes wore on, the Kernels found themselves in several advantageous spots, taking a lead at some point or another in all three extra frames. Additionally, one by one Tigers began to foul out — in order, Maxwell Knutson, Andrew Walter and Camden Phipps reached their foul limit — but the offense provided by Mehrman and Ethan Determan kept the Tigers afloat.

“That just kind of sums up my whole career, up and down, up and down,” said Mitchell senior Caden Hinker, who dropped in a game-high 29 points. “It was a fun game, there were just a couple of plays down the stretch that really cost us. … That’s just the game of basketball, a game of runs and back-and-forth. ... That’s what makes it so fun.”

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Mitchell's Caden Hinker (20) rises for a jump shot over Harrisburg's Andrew Walter during a Class AA boys basketball state tournament quarterfinal game on Thursday, March 17, 2022, at the Premier Center, in Sioux Falls.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

After battling to a 55-all stalemate after 32 minutes, the Kernels struck first in overtime, as a pair of Dylan Soulek layups put Mitchell up by four — its largest advantage of the contest — before Harrisburg would answer with one of several counter-punches across the 12 total minutes of overtime.

A Knutson layup with 65 seconds remaining in the first overtime brought the score level at 59, but the 6-foot-4 forward committed a foul on the ensuing defensive possession, sending Mitchell to the free-throw line. A pair of misses kept the teams on even terms and was emblematic of a tough afternoon at the line for the Kernels, who shot 17 of 28 (60.7%) compared to Harrisburg’s 15 of 20 (75%).

However, the misses didn’t cost Mitchell at that juncture, as neither team managed to find the bottom of the net in the waning moments, sending the game to double overtime.

Mitchell again took a slight early edge in the second overtime, but with less than a minute to play, the Kernels found themselves down 65-63. This time, Hinker made his way to the free-throw line and sunk a pair to tie the game with 37.9 seconds on the clock, and after no scoring in the final half-minute, the game headed to a third overtime.

The final four minutes was barely-organized chaos, with five of the contest’s 15 lead changes and three of its 13 ties occurring in the third overtime as each team threw everything it had toward a conclusion.

A traditional three-point play by Hinker with 18 seconds to play gave Mitchell a 77-76 lead, but as Mehrman got to his preferred left hand for the last two of his team-high 26 points, the Tigers gained the final advantage.

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“They made one more shot than us. There’s not a lot more you can say about it other than we gave it everything we had,” said Mitchell junior Charlie McCardle, who finished with a season-high 19 points alongside nine rebounds and three assists. “We certainly could have made a few more free throws and that would have made a difference.”

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Mitchell High School coach Ryker Kreutzfeldt speaks to his team in a timeout during a Class AA boys basketball state tournament quarterfinal game on Thursday, March 17, 2022 at the Premier Center in Sioux Falls.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Soulek matched McCardle's 19 points, adding two steals, while Steele Morgan chipped in nine points, 13 rebounds and three assists. As a team, the Kernels out-rebounded the Tigers 46 to 25 and shot 29 of 57 (50.9%) compared to 28 of 68 (41.2%), but were hindered by a 23 to 7 disparity in turnovers.

For the Tigers, Mehrman tacked on six rebounds, five assists and five steals onto his 26 points, with Determan not far behind at 25 points, five rebounds, two assists and four steals. Walter and Gavin Aasheim each contributed eight points.

Harrisburg (15-7) advances to play No. 1 Roosevelt (22-0) in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday. Mitchell (14-8) plays No. 9 Yankton (13-9) in the consolation semifinals at noon Friday.

“I don’t know, I guess we’ll find out,” Kreutzfeldt said, addressing the challenge of recovering physically and mentally from such a grueling contest. “You try to put your seniors out on a positive, and they deserve that. So that’s going to be our goal is to give our seniors the best experience to end their career.”

“We have to just use tonight to put it behind us, refuel and come out like it’s a new day,” offered Hinker.

Harrisburg 78, Mitchell 77 (3OT)

Mitchell (15-7): Steele Morgan 4-7 1-2 9, Charlie McCardle 7-10 4-7 19, Gavyn Degen 0-0 0-0 0, Dylan Soulek 9-16 1-2 19, Caden Hinker 9-21 10-15 29, Aiden Myers 0-1 1-2 1, Gavin Soukup 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 29-57 17-28 77

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Harrisburg (15-7): Gavin Aasheim 3-7 1-2 8, Andrew Walter 3-4 0-0 8, Ethan Determan 8-21 5-7 25, Jacoby Mehrman 9-21 8-9 26, Camden Phipps 2-6 1-2 5, Maxwell Knutson 3-8 0-0 6, Jalen Wilson 0-0 0-0 0, Ian Jordan 0-0 0-0 0, Braeden VanBockern 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 28-68 15-20 78

Mitchell 14 35 43 55 59 65 77

Harrisburg 15 34 46 55 59 65 78

FG%: Mitchell .509, Harrisburg .412. 3-pt FG:Mitchell 2-11 (Morgan 0-1, McCardle 1-1, Soulek 0-3, Hinker 1-5, Soukup 0-1), Harrisburg 7-21 (Aasheim 1-4, Walter 2-3, Determan 4-7, Mehrman 0-5, Knutson 0-2). Rebounds: Mitchell 46 (Morgan 13, Hinker 13), Harrisburg 25 (Mehrman 6). Fouls Mitchell 17, Harrisburg 24. Fouled out: Walter, Phipps, Knutson. Technical foul: Soulek (6:29, 2nd). Assists: Mitchell 13 (McCardle 3, Hinker 3, Myers 3), Harrisburg 14 (Mehrman 5). Steals: Mitchell 2 (Soulek 2), Harrisburg 13 (Mehrman 5). Blocked shots: Mitchell 5 (Hinker 5), Harrisburg 2 (Determan 1, Knutson 1). Turnovers: Mitchell 23, Harrisburg 7.

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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