Mitchell boys notch wire-to-wire win behind Caden Hinker's career night
Hinker scored a career-best 35 points as the Kernels improved to 7-2
PIERRE — Caden Hinker was hitting early and often on Thursday night, which was a welcome sight for the Mitchell High School basketball team.
Class AA’s fifth-ranked Kernels never trailed, with Hinker’s career-high 35 points boosting Mitchell to a 69-54 road victory over Pierre.
It was Mitchell’s seventh win of the season — tied for the most in Class AA — and the second away from home in three nights without starting point guard Macon Larson due to illness. The Kernels dropped Pierre to a fourth-straight loss, avenging a 46-44 loss to the Governors last February at the Corn Palace.
Hinker wasted little time in asserting himself, scoring 10 of the Kernels’ first 13 points in the opening five minutes, with the Mitchell lead standing at 19-13 after the first quarter.
“He was pretty much unguardable tonight,” Mitchell coach Ryker Kreutzfeldt said of Hinker. “He was going to the rim, making shots and was relentless all night.”
Pierre closed the gap to 21-19 early in the second quarter, and the teams traded baskets over the next few possessions, but before the game could settle into a steady rhythm, Mitchell wrestled back control.
Powered by back-to-back 3-pointers from the left wing by Steele Morgan and Hinker, who had 21 points in the opening 16 minutes, Mitchell closed the first half on a 14-2 run to pull ahead 39-25 at the break.
The Governors cut the lead to single-digits early in the second half and kept it there, trailing 50-42 after three quarters. But after Pierre came within six points, the Kernels went on a game-clinching 9-1 run, as the Governors never came within 10 points again.
“Aiden [Myers] got into foul trouble and that’s when we missed Macon,” Kreutzfeldt said. “It’s not an ideal situation, we’d like to have our point guards in there. They did a nice job pressuring and made it tough on us, but once we got Aiden back in we were a lot more solid.”
Morgan and Dylan Soulek joined Hinker in double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively, as Charlie McCardle notched eight points off the bench. Hinker’s eight rebounds were a team-high, and Morgan posted five boards. Mitchell shot 25 of 49 (51.0%) from the field while holding Pierre to 22 of 62 (35.5%).
Pierre (4-4, 0-1 ESD) was paced by Matthew Hanson’s 17 points, while Lincoln Kienholz added 16 points on 25 field goal attempts. Jackson Edman led the Governors with eight rebounds.
Mitchell (7-2, 6-1 ESD) enters a much-needed seven-day stretch without a game to regroup before heading west for contests against Sturgis and Spearfish on Jan. 21-22.
“We need to get healthy,” Kreutzfeldt said. “We’re going to take Friday off. I announced that in the locker room and that was one of the biggest cheers I’ve heard in a while. These guys are worn down and sick. We desperately need this nice break.”