Mitchell High School's dominant win sends it to Class AA state tourney

Jeremy Karll, The Daily Republic, Mitchell, S.D.
·4 min read

Mar. 6—From the opening tip, the Mitchell High School girls basketball team controlled the game.

The Kernels left no doubt in its Class AA SoDak 16 win over Watertown on Friday at the Corn Palace, smothering the Arrows in a 50-33 victory. Mitchell (15-6) never trailed and led by as many as 21 points to advance back to the state tournament after a one-year absence.

"That to me was my favorite part. We didn't just win, we won and played really well," Cole Knippling said after advancing to his first state tournament as the Mitchell coach. "I thought we were super tough defensively. We talked about dominating the rebounds. That to me was the neatest part. We won the way we like to win."

Unlike in the first meeting — a 41-40 Mitchell victory — the Kernels didn't let Watertown (6-15) hang around. Mitchell made it tough on Watertown's 6-foot Maggie Heesch to get the ball in the post, swiped at the ball to force turnovers and dared the Arrows' guards to beat it from the perimeter.

Watertown finished 2-for-13 from deep and committed 11 turnovers, with Heesch scoring its first six points of the game. She had 11 points, five rebounds and three steals. Abby Bramer and Jaida Young had 10 and eight points, respectively, but the Arrows only once topped 10 points in a quarter.

"We never were standing or waiting for the ball to get to our girl," Sawyer Stoebner said. "We were jumping the passing lanes and always staying ahead of them."

Mitchell's defensive intensity never wavered during the 17-point win, in part due to Stoebner's rebounding. She had a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double, creating transition opportunities as she'd sprint past defenders when pulling down a board.

Macy Kempf added seven points and 11 boards, while Adaya Plastow also recorded seven points and seven rebounds. As a team, Mitchell held a 41-26 advantage on the glass, including 14 offensive rebounds.

But it was Avia Haley who jump-started the Kernels, giving them their desired fast start. The sharpshooter flashed her handles by driving to the hoop for a personal 7-0 run to help Mitchell take an early 9-2 lead. Only 19 seconds into the second quarter, the Kernels led by double-digits.

"Get after it and don't be scared to take it to the hole," Haley said about her mentality to start the game.

She finished with a game-high 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting, making sure her basketball career didn't come to an end on Friday.

"Some of them are going on to play college ball, but for me, I'm done after this," Haley said. "It's a huge opportunity and I'm super excited about it."

Mitchell plays Sioux Falls O'Gorman at 2:45 p.m. on March 11 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. It lost 63-35 to the Knights earlier this year, but it was on the second day of a back-to-back.

"We like having second cracks at people," Knippling said. "We'll watch the film and be ready to roll. We'll actually have some practice time and not have a game 18 hours before, so we should be good."

Mitchell 50, Watertown 33

Watertown (6-15): Maddy Rhode 0-5 0-0 0, Jaida Young 3-11 1-5 8, Abby Bramer 4-7 1-3 10, Olivia Corey 0-3 1-2 1, Maggie Heesch 5-11 1-5 11, Ali Tesch 0-0 0-0 0, Kayla Vohlken 0-0 0-0 0, Miranda Falconer 0-0 1-2 1, Jade Lund 0-1 0-0 0, Macee Osthus 0-0 0-0 0, Lydia Buckley 0-0 0-0 0, Kendall Paulson 1-1 0-0 2, Grace Ortmeier 0-0 0-0 0. Team totals: 13-39 5-17.

Mitchell (15-6): Adaya Plastow 2-8 3-6 7, Avia Haley 6-10 0-0 14, Camryn Krogman 2-12 2-2 6, Sawyer Stoebner 4-5 2-2 10, Macy kempf 3-9 1-4 11, Lizzie Tyler 0-0 0-0 0, Taylor Giblin 1-2 0-0 3, Ella Flippin 0-1 0-0 0, Sarah Sebert 1-3 0-0 3, Gabby Sonne 0-1 0-0 0, Kaitlyn Christensen 0-0 0-0 0, Kadence Halvorson 0-0 0-0 0, Mariyah Turner 0-0 0-0 0. Team totals: 19-51 8-14 50.

W 4 18 25 33

MHS 11 28 37 50

3-pointers: W 2-13 (Young 1-4, Bramer 1-3, Rhode 0-3, Corey 0-2, Lund 0-1); MHS 4-15 (Haley 2-6, Giblin 1-1, Sebert 1-3, Krogman 0-3, Flippin 0-1, Sonne 0-1). Rebounds: W 26 (Young 6); MHS 41 (Kempf 11, Stoebner 10, Plastow 7). Assists: W 6; MHS 8 (Stoebner 3). Blocked shots: W 0; MHS 2. Steals: W 4 (Heesch 3); MHS 5 (Krogman 2). Turnovers: W 11; MHS 8. Total fouls: W 17; MHS 18.