O'Gorman powers past Mitchell boys in regular-season finale
Kernels finish regular season 13-7, await SoDak 16 pairings
SIOUX FALLS — Behind its perimeter shooting and a bruising style of play, Class AA No. 2 O’Gorman muscled its way past the Mitchell High School boys basketball team, 68-50, in front of a packed gym on Friday night at O’Gorman High School.
Six of the Knights’ eight first-half field goals came from behind the 3-point line — four off the hand of Matthew Eng — and there was more to come. For the game, O’Gorman made 12 shots from distance on 33 attempts (36.4%) to Mitchell’s four on 17 attempts (23.5%).
“We had four threes for 12 points, they had 12 for 36 points. That’s a lot of twos you have to make if they’re going to make that many threes,” said Mitchell coach Ryker Kreutzfeldt. “It is what it is. I don’t know if Matt Eng got a really good look all night, he was just making ‘em.”
As for the physicality, O'Gorman asserted themselves from the opening tip, with Mitchell needing time to adjust.
“It’s what we knew we were getting into coming in,” Kreutzfeldt said. “It’s kind of like with Roosevelt — you have to see it before you understand what it’s really like. It took us a half to figure that out, especially rebounding the basketball.”
Though the Kernels never led, they stayed within striking distance of the Knights for much of the evening. O’Gorman led 13-9 after the first quarter and 27-22 at halftime before stretching the lead out to 10 and threatening to pull away in the third. The Kernels responded with a 7-0 run before the game went to the fourth with the visitors trailing 43-38, but the Knights pulled away in the final eight minutes with Mitchell relying on free throws for much of its offense late.
Caden Hinker led the Kernels with 24 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, the first of which set the new Mitchell record for career assists, surpassing the old mark of 279 by Ryan Krome. Dylan Soulek dropped in 12 points with three steals, while Steele Morgan scored five points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
In total, Mitchell shot 15 of 38 (39.5%) from the field compared to 20 of 53 (37.7%) by the Knights.
“In the end, it kind of feels like the final score is a little bit of a lie. That was a close game the entire way,” Kreutzfeldt said. “They made some shots at the end and we couldn’t make a shot it felt like. But I’m proud of our guys, they battled.”
Eng’s 26 points paced all scorers, powered by six made triples. Rush Landry added 17 points and seven rebounds for O’Gorman (17-2).
Mitchell (13-7) now awaits the conclusion of all other boys Class AA basketball action before seed points and SoDak 16 pairings are finalized. Prior to Friday night's action, the Kernels were in the No. 5 spot and would’ve matched up with No. 12 Rapid City Stevens, which clipped Mitchell, 60-59, on Feb. 18 with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
Entering the postseason, Mitchell has lost five of eight contests — three coming to Nos. 1, 2 and 4 in the Feb. 21 media poll — but own a win over No. 3 Aberdeen Central in that stretch, as well as a prior victory over No. 5 Sioux Falls Lincoln.