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Sharpshooting carries Kernel boys to overtime win over Harrisburg for Class AA seventh place

Strong shooting late in the game helped the Kernels cap their time at the state tournament with a win

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Mitchell's Ben Helleloid makes a pass during the Kernels' Class AA boys basketball tournament seventh-place game against Harrisburg Saturday, March 20, 2021 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City. (South Dakota Public Broadcasting photo)

RAPID CITY -- A late rally in regulation and strong shooting in overtime helped the Mitchell Kernel boys basketball team finish its season with a victory, claiming seventh place at the Class AA state tournament, defeating Harrisburg 78-72.

The victory capped a rebound season for the Kernels, who finish 16-8 in their first state tournament since 2012, and had 10 wins in the prior three seasons.

The Kernels rallied from six points down with 90 seconds remaining in regulation, capped by a long 3-pointer by junior Caden Hinker to tie the game at 62 with less than 20 seconds left. Both teams had possessions at the end of regulation to potentially win the game but came up empty, forcing the extra session.

“That was a lot of fun,” Mitchell coach Todd Neuendorf said. “I love Xs and Os basketball and there was a lot of that down the stretch in that game. It wasn’t looking good for a few moments there late in the game but our guys kept chipping away and we wanted to extend the game as much as we could and we made some big plays down the stretch.”

In overtime, Mitchell senior center Zane Alm fouled out after two fouls in an 11-second span, but the Kernels’ 3-point shooting filled the void. After Harrisburg led 66-64, Gavyn Degen made a corner 3-pointer to put Mitchell ahead 67-66 with 2:12 left in overtime. Harrisburg answered with a basket, but Lucas Moller made a 3-pointer of his own to put Mitchell up 70-68, taking the lead for good with 1:31 remaining.

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In the final two periods of play -- the fourth quarter and overtime -- Mitchell was 7 of 10 shooting from the field and was 14 of 16 on free throws. The Kernels did not miss a field goal in overtime, shooting 3 of 3. For the game, Mitchell shot 50 percent from the field and were 20 of 24 on free throws.

"In overtime, we were going without (Zane) and without our guy in the middle and we really had some players step up and make some really big plays for us, which was great. We needed some special plays to make that victory happen."

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Mitchell's Gavyn Degen drives to the basket against Harrisburg's Jacoby Mehrmen during the Kernels' Class AA boys basketball tournament seventh-place game against Harrisburg Saturday, March 20, 2021 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City. (South Dakota Public Broadcasting photo)

Hinker finished with 29 points, including 21 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, while still getting the double-team attention he faced in the first two games of the tournament. He also had eight rebounds and was 9 of 10 at the free-throw line.

"His first two games weren't the typical Cade Hinker games but they were doing the same things they were doing to him in the first two games and Hink just did a good job of playing through it a little more," Neuendorf said.

Mitchell also got 13 points and five rebounds from Alm, who was 7 of 7 at the free-throw line. Dylan Soulek capped a strong tournament of play from him with 11 points, six assists and four rebounds. Lucas Moller and Ben Helleoid scored nine and seven points, respectively, as seniors capping their Kernel basketball careers. Degen had seven points and five rebounds.

Connor Geddes did the damage for Harrisburg in the game, scoring 38 points on 13-of-26 shooting. He made five 3-pointers and had seven rebounds. Blaze Lubbers scored 17 points and Andrew Walter had nine points for the Tigers (16-8).

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Neuendorf said the game and the season was another step forward for the program. He said the higher pace and up-and-down nature of how Saturday's game played out is more emblematic of how the Kernels will likely play in the future.

"We took some steps in the program, winning games and getting to the SoDak 16 last year and now we made it to the state tournament," Neuendorf said. "Now our next goal is to get into that (semifinal) night session. Our younger guys were able to get a taste of what this is all about. I have to give our seniors credit because they led these guys here and now we have to keep building. ... I'm proud of all of our kids, but especially those seniors."

NOTES: It was the Kernels’ first overtime game of the season and their highest-scoring offensive effort of the year … Alm was the Kernels’ selection to the all-tournament team.

Mitchell 78, Harrisburg 72 (OT)

Mitchell (16-8): Aiden Myers 0-0 0-0 0, Landon Waddell 0-0 0-0 0, Jonah Schmidt 0-0 0-0 0, Lucas Moller 2-4 3-4 9, Caden Hinker 8-15 9-10 29, Ben Helleloid 3-5 0-0 7, Dylan Soulek 5-10 1-3 11, Gavyn Degen 3-3 0-0 7, Zane Alm 3-10 7-7 13, Steele Morgan 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 25-50 20-24 78

Harrisburg (16-8): Blaze Lubbers 6-8 3-6 17, Nate Hoyt 0-2 0-0 0, Conner Geddes 13-26 7-9 38, Andrew Walter 3-5 3-4 9, Ethyn Rollinger 0-0 0-0 0, Gavin Aasheim 0-0 0-0 0, Luke Morton 1-1 0-0 3, Jacoby Mehrman 0-3 0-0 0, Nick Tschudy 1-3 0-0 3, Brayden Phipps 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 25-51 13-19 72

H 18 32 46 62 72

M 20 33 47 62 78

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FG%: Mitchell .500, Harrisburg .490. 3-pt FG: Mitchell 8-21 (Moller 2-4, Hinker 4-8, Helleloid 1-1, Soulek 0-2, Degen 1-1, Alm 0-3, Morgan 0-2), Harrisburg 9-26 (Lubbers 2-3, Hoyt 0-2, Geddes 5-15, Morton 1-1, Mehrman 0-1, Tschudy 1-3, Phipps 0-1). Rebounds: Mitchell 30 (Hinker 8), Harrisburg 21 (Geddes 7). Fouls Mitchell 18, Harrisburg 21. Fouled out: Alm, Walter. Technical: none. Assists: Mitchell 15 (Soulek 6), Harrisburg 7 (Lubbers 3). Steals: Mitchell 3 (Hinker 2), Harrisburg 6 (Lubbers 3). Blocked shots: Mitchell 2 (Hinker 1, Soulek 1), Harrisburg 1 (Phipps 1). Turnovers: Mitchell 13, Harrisburg 12.

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