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Mitchell girls cruise past Yankton in SoDak 16 matchup, returning to state tournament

Mar. 1—MITCHELL — When it comes to playoff basketball, the Mitchell High School girls basketball team talked about every team being on equal ground with one another, and anything could happen.

The result was more of the same for the steady Kernels.

The second-seeded Kernels cruised to a 53-35 victory over No. 15 Yankton in the two teams' Class AA SoDak 16 matchup on Friday night at the Corn Palace.

The victory qualified the Kernels for the Class AA state tournament for the second consecutive season. It's the first time Mitchell has made back-to-back appearances at state since making four straight trips from 2011 to 2014.

"It feels wonderful," Kernels head coach Dave Brooks said. "Kids were dialed in tonight. We came out with a good start and they just kept playing hard. I'm really happy for them."

Unlike the Jan. 5 contest, where both teams were tied through three quarters before the Kernels pulled away with a 51-41 victory, Mitchell wasted no time jumping out to a big lead. A steal by Addie Siemsen leading to her own basket opened a 13-2 scoring run with 6:22 remaining in the first, lasting until the end of the quarter.

Yankton started fighting back in the middle stages of the second quarter, going on an 8-0 run, cutting the lead down to seven points. Claire Tereshinski posted six points en route to a game-high 18 during that stretch.

As soon as the Gazelles tightened the game up, the Kernel pulled it back out to a 16-point advantage, with Breanna Kirsch finishing the first half with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer off a steal from Carsyn Weich, being mobbed by her teammates as they raced back into the locker room.

"It was a good experience. It felt good," said Kirsch, a senior who finished with seven points and an assist off the bench for the Kernels.

Out of the locker room to begin the second half, Mitchell increased the tempo of the game, leading to quick layups from Lauren Van Overschelde. A Siemsen layup with 4:55 left in the third quarter gave the Kernels their biggest lead of the night of 22 points.

Yankton made one last run to keep the game close, as Bailey LaCroix sank a 3-pointer to ignite a quarter-ending 10-3 run. Deviating from their patented zone defense, the Kernels switched back to man to keep the Gazelles at bay in the second half.

"At halftime, we all agreed to go back to man (defense)," Brooks said. "We just didn't play (zone) very well. We left the corners very vulnerable and didn't do a good job of covering them ... we kind of got back to where we started the game."

The Kernels maintained a healthy lead throughout the fourth quarter, and the celebrations ensued upon the final buzzer.

"I knew we could (make state)," senior Saywer Stoebner said. "I knew we were capable, and it's good that we didn't overlook (Yankton). We didn't let them make us uncomfortable. We just worried about what we had to do right, and we got it done."

Stoebner and Allison Meyerink each finished with 11 points, as the Kernels shot an efficient 52.3% from the field, and were 20-of-31 on 2-point tries. Stoebner also picked up 11 rebounds. Siemsen led the Kernels in scoring with 12 points. Carsyn Weich tallied six points, six assists, and four rebounds.

Yankton finished its season with a 5-16 record, as Macy Drotzmann finished with eight points and five rebounds. LaCroix, September Rauch, and Josslyn Elwood each had three points, as the Kernels held the Gazelles to just 13 made field goals.

Mitchell (19-2) will face off against Harrisburg in the state quarterfinals on Thursday, March 7, at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. Until then, the Kernels will celebrate the way they've always celebrated victories this season.

"We'll be going to Culvers," junior Makenzie Peterson said. "We go there, we sit down and have ice cream. It just feels like that's our way of celebrating and ending games as a team."

Mitchell 53, Yankton 35

Yankton (5-16): Payton Moser 0-1 0-0 0 Eden Wolfgram 0-5 0-1 0 Claire Tereshinski 6-14 3-5 18 Camryn Koletzky 0-1 0-0 0 Macy Drotzmann 4-6 0-0 8 Josslyn Elwood 1-5 0-0 3 Bailey LaCroix 1-3 0-0 3 September Rauch 1-5 1-1 3 Adilyn Schelhass 0-1 0-0 0 Nora Krajewski 0-0 0-0 0 Hailey Schulte 0-0 0-0 0 Kelsyn Wells 0-0 0-0 0 Burkley Olson 0-0 0-0 0 Totals 13-41 4-7 35.

Mitchell (19-2): Addie Siemsen 5-13 1-3 12 Sawyer Stoebner 5-6 0-0 11 Allison Meyerink 4-8 3-6 11 Carsyn Weich 3-4 0-0 6 Lauren Van Overschelde 3-7 0-0 6 Breanna Kirsch 3-3 0-0 7 Makenzie Peterson 0-1 0-0 0 Matteah Graves 0-1 0-0 0 Londyn Hajek 0-1 0-0 0 Londyn Schroeder 0-0 0-0 0 Talli Peschong 0-0 0-0 0 Charleigh Collins 0-0 0-0 0 Totals 23-44 4-9 53.

Yankton 6 17 27 35

Mitchell 17 33 42 53

3-pointers: Y 5-25 (Moser 0-1, Wolfram 0-3, Elwood 1-5, Tereshinski 3-8, LaCroix 1-3, Koletzky 0-1, Rauch 0-4), M 3-13 (Siemsen 1-6, Stoebner 1-1, Kirsch 1-1, Weich 0-1, Van Overschelde 0-2, Graves 0-1, Hajek 0-1). Rebounds: Y 16 (Drotzmann 5), M 29 (Stoebner 11, Siemsen 5, Meyerink 5). Assists: Y 7 (Rauch 3), M 17 (Weich 6). Steals: Y 8 (Tereshinski 4), M 8 (Stoebner 2, Weich 2). Blocks: Y 1 (Drotzmann), M 2 (Stoebner, Meyerink).