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Mitchell boys quiet Aberdeen Central shooters late, win Class AA top-five matchup

Kernels improve to 11-4 after playing fourth-straight top-five opponent.

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Mitchell's Caden Hinker (20) puts down a dunk during a game against Aberdeen Central on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, at the Corn Palace.
Mitchell Republic file photo

MITCHELL — Playing its fourth-straight game against an opponent ranked in this week’s Class AA top-five and coming off back-to-back losses, the Mitchell High School boys basketball team was in search of a big win.

And it got one, as the No. 4 Kernels withstood a hot-shooting night from No. 5 Aberdeen Central to come out with a 69-62 victory in an Eastern South Dakota Conference contest Tuesday night at the Corn Palace.

“We were pretty good offensively tonight and kind of got back to what we’re supposed to be — a team that has five guys that can score, and everyone was a threat out there tonight,” said Mitchell coach Ryker Kreutzfeldt. “We had to battle through some of their shot-making where it felt like they just couldn’t miss, and to them, it probably felt like we couldn’t miss either.”

Mitchell shot 24 of 51 (47.1%) from the field and 10 of 15 from 3-point range, with Caden Hinker and Aiden Myers combining to go 9 of 11 from behind the 3-point line. On the other side, Aberdeen Central shot 26 of 49 (53.1%) from the field and 10 of 22 on triples.

Five ties and seven lead changes in the opening half marked a frenetic first half in which neither team struggled to find offense. The teams combined to shoot 27 of 50 (54%) from the field and make 11 3-point field goals, including seven in the first eight minutes.

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Early in the second half, the Kernels looked poised to pull away after burying three triples in the opening moments of the second half to help build a 45-37 advantage. But Aberdeen Central battled back, climbing to within 54-52 entering the fourth quarter due in large part to the jump-shooting of guard Sam Rohlfs. For the quarter, Hinker put up 13 points for the Kernels, while Rohlfs dropped in seven.

“We kind of felt like we were on the edge of going on a run, but then they would come down and hit a 3 and hit a midrange, and then it’s a five-point game still,” Kreutzfeldt said. “We couldn’t break it open like we wanted to, but you’re just not going to do that against good teams.”

However, the Kernels answered immediately, pushing their lead back to 59-52 to start the final frame.

The Golden Eagles stayed within striking distance, but went cold at the wrong time, scoring just 10 points in the fourth quarter as Mitchell converted several free throws to seal the win.

Hinker's 30 points and nine rebounds led the way for Mitchell, as the senior notched his fourth 30-plus-point effort in the past seven games. Steele Morgan and Charlie McCardle added 11 and 10 points, respectively, to go with 11 rebounds between them. Dylan Soulek and Aiden Myers each chipped in nine points for the Kernels, with Soulek also dishing out four assists.

Aberdeen Central (9-6, 4-3 ESD) was led by 20 points, five rebounds and three assists from Rohlfs and 17 points from A.J. Hase. Alec Voegele contributed nine points and five rebounds for the Golden Eagles.

Mitchell (11-4, 6-1 ESD) doesn’t take the court again until Feb. 15, when it travels to take on Sioux Falls Washington.

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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