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Big third quarter carries top-ranked Mitchell boys past Spearfish for seventh straight win

Feb. 3—SPEARFISH — Behind a dominant third quarter and a big afternoon from Gavin Soukup, the Mitchell High School boys basketball team ran away from Spearfish in the second half for a 59-45 win on Saturday afternoon.

In the second of back-to-back contests against West River opposition, the No. 1-ranked Kernels carried over some of their momentum from a Friday night rout of Sturgis, leading wire-to-wire en route to a seventh consecutive victory and the fourth straight away from home. With a record of 13-1, the Kernels are out to the program's best start since 1995-96.

Mitchell scored the first seven points of the game on the way to an 18-9 advantage after eight minutes. Though the Kernels maintained the cushion for much of the second quarter, a late push by the Spartans slashed the halftime margin to 27-24.

"We were kind of sloppy and lazy in the second quarter, which is the same thing we saw last night," MHS head coach Ryker Kreutzfeldt said in a postgame radio interview. "We got out to a lead and then weren't able to put them away. Give credit to Spearfish because they never quit playing hard, but we kind of did it to ourselves, and we cleaned it up after halftime."

Just three minutes into the second half, the Kernels had widened the gap to double digits at 38-28. It didn't stop there, as Mitchell glided out to a 51-33 lead entering the final frame. During the fourth quarter, the Spartans pulled within 12 with two minutes to play but never truly threatened.

Soukup paced the Kernels with a season-high 21 points, and Markus Talley posted 13 points and four rebounds. Gavin Hinker recorded 12 points and eight rebounds, while Colton Smith had eight points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Mitchell shot better than 50% from the field in both halves, finishing 25-of-47 (53.2%) for the game. On the other end, the Kernels limited Spearfish to 18-of-56 (32.1%) shooting, including an 8-of-28 (28.6%) mark in the second half. Mitchell also commanded the rebounding battle, grabbing 41 boards to the Spartans' 25.

For Spearfish (6-7), Seth Hamilton posted 14 points and four rebounds, and Dylon Doren contributed 12 points and six rebounds. Bennett Kortan had 10 points and four rebounds.

With the boys and girls basketball teams both a part of the weekend's West River trip and both going 2-0 to run their combined mark to 27-1, the Mitchell basketball programs are enjoying a special run together.

"It's just so much fun every night, especially these doubleheaders," Kreutzfeldt said. "... I don't know if our guys realize what they're doing. This is the regular season and it doesn't mean that you're a state champion, but they're making history."

Mitchell returns home for its next action, hosting Eastern South Dakota Conference foe Aberdeen Central in the penultimate home game of the regular season on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

MHS subvarsity scores

Junior varsity: Spearfish 48, Mitchell 43. Sutton Thompson had nine points.

Sophomore: Spearfish 76, Mitchell 63. Kendan Skinner led the team with 11 points.

Freshman A: Spearfish 64, Mitchell 48. Owen Schelske racked up 35 points