Sioux Falls Jefferson stays one step ahead of Mitchell girls in Class AA opening round
The fourth-seeded Cavaliers took a nine-point lead to the locker room but outscored No. 12 seeded-Mitchell 17-6 in the third quarter.
SIOUX FALLS — Sioux Falls Jefferson turned it on after the halftime break.
The fourth-seeded Cavaliers took a nine-point lead to the locker room but outscored the No. 12 seeded-Mitchell girls basketball team 17-6 in the third quarter, taking down the Kernels 50-34 in the opening round of the Class AA state basketball tournament at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.
Jefferson started the third quarter with a 3-pointer and a layup to quickly balloon its lead from nine to 14 in the first 80 seconds of the third quarter before going up by as many as 22 in the frame. And on the defensive side of the ball, the Cavaliers forced 12 turnovers in the third quarter.
“When we get across (half court) and we stop up on top, it gives them a chance to double or everybody get their defense set,” coach Dave Brooks said of the third quarter. “We weren’t able to do that enough to get into the flow of things to get our offense started.”
The start of the third quarter looked eerily similar to the game's opening moments where the Cavaliers used an 11-0 run in the first to open up a 13-3 lead.
Mitchell shot the ball better in the second half, connecting at a 43.8% (7 of 16) clip and outscoring the Cavaliers 15-11 in the final quarter. But a 4-for-21 shooting performance in the first half, coupled with 15 second-half turnovers plagued the Kernels.
Addie Siemsen led Mitchell with 13 points, while Lauren Van Overschelde added 10. Sawyer Stoebner did a bit of everything for the Kernels in the loss, picking up nine points, 12 rebounds, four assists, four steals and a block.
“That is another gritty performance,” Brooks said of Stoebner. “She just didn’t quit.”
All told, the Kernels shot 29.7% (11 of 37) for the contest and went 3-for-15 (20%) from 3-point range.
Defensively, Mitchell forced 17 Cavalier turnovers and came away with 12 steals while limiting Jefferson to 32% (16 of 50) from the field and 23.8% (5 of 21) from 3-point range and 1-for-10 from behind the arc in the first half.
But Cierra Watkins carried Jefferson on offense, recording a game-high 20 points for Jefferson on 6-for-12 shooting, to go along with nine rebounds. She was the lone double-digit scorer in the contest for Jefferson.
“When they beat us at the Corn Palace, I said, ‘I’m glad I’m done playing against you,’” Brooks said of Watkins. “She’s a good kid, good player.”
Jaidyn Dunn was the only other Cavalier to shoot over 50% from the floor, picking up four points on 2-for-3 shooting, while adding four rebounds and four blocks.
On the boards, Jefferson outrebounded Mitchell 34-31 but had 11 second-chance points compared to none for the Kernels.
Mitchell (9-13) matches up with No. 8-seed Watertown in the first round of the consolation bracket at noon on Friday, March 10.
“They don’t want to play for the afternoon game. They want to play Kernel basketball,” Brooks said. “They want to end the year right for the seniors.”