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Mitchell girls basketball to emphasize speed, defense in first season under coach Dave Brooks

“We hope to play 94 feet most games with some kind of a press and then probably get out and run,” first-year head coach Dave Brooks said.

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Mitchell's Sawyer Stoebner attempts a layup against Sioux Falls Roosevelt's Katie Spicer on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, at the Corn Palace.
Mitchell Republic file photo
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MITCHELL — There are plenty of unknowns surrounding the Mitchell High School girls basketball team this season.

In his first season as head coach, Dave Brooks is leading a young core of players into a year where the Kernels are searching for growth after a 9-12 campaign a season ago.

“We have some talent,” Brooks said of his team. “The optimism is that they will just continue to get better as the season goes on.”

One certainty is the return of junior Sawyer Stoebner, who was named to Class AA all-state second team last season after averaging 15.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.2 steals per game and will likely be the focal point for the Kernels again this season. Returning starter senior Taylor Giblin will be a threat from 3-point range, and freshman Addie Siemsen, who was the first player off the bench for the Kernels last season, will also see a significant role this year.

But Brooks is aiming to utilize his team’s speed more than anything. Rather than consistently set up in a half-court offense, the first-year head coach of the Kernels is looking to generate steals and get points in transition.

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“We hope to play 94 feet most games with some kind of a press and then probably get out and run,” Brooks said. “(We’re) looking to hopefully get some points off turnovers.”

When they do get into a half-court offense, though, drive-and-kick 3-pointers will certainly be on the table for a Kernels team that Brooks said isn’t afraid to shoot. On top of that, the Kernels will be looking to get to the free-throw line this season through motion offense and penetration due to a lack of a significant presence in the post.

Mitchell comes into the season as a smaller team, with Allison Meyerink listed as the tallest player at 5-foot-10. Despite a lack of height, though, the Kernels have a deeper bench this season, which will lend itself to being able to apply pressure defensively throughout the entire game.

“Height is going to be a challenge, we have one kid (that’s) maybe 5-foot-10 and in (Class) AA, that's not very big,” Brooks said. “We’ll try to take advantage of what we have, which I think is speed and desire to play some defense.”

Part of having a deep bench will require players filling larger rolls than they did a season ago. Brooks pointed to Meyerink as someone who has improved heading into her junior year, as well as players like Carsyn Weich, Delaney Degen and Breanna Kirsch as players who could be contributors.

And while the team hasn’t sat down and set specific goals it wants to accomplish this season, Brooks has hopes that his team will be competitive in Class AA, but he acknowledged the class is “a tough deal,” due to the high level of competition throughout, especially at the top.

“I’ve told the girls we have to work on the controllables,” Brooks said of playing the competition in Class AA. “We can box out, we can play hard defense, we can get in their face, we can close out well.”

Even with the youth and lack of height the Kernels will bring into the season, Brooks is optimistic that his team’s willingness to play defense and its speed will propel Mitchell to a strong campaign in 2022.

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“Like everybody else, (we’re) trying to get a first-round home game in the SoDak 16,” Brooks said. “It might have to take some work to get there, but that’s our plan.”

Zech Lambert is a sports reporter for the Mitchell Republic. He graduated from Penn State University in May 2022 and began at the Mitchell Republic in July 2022. He can be reached at zlambert@mitchellrepublic.com or on Twitter @Zech_Lambert.
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