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No. 1 Kernels, No. 3 Lynx to clash for Class AA crown

Mar. 16—SIOUX FALLS — Top-seeded Mitchell and third-seeded Brandon Valley are set to battle for the Class AA boys basketball state championship.

Here's what to know ahead of the contest:

When: 7:45 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Premier Center, Sioux Falls.

Records: Mitchell 22-1; Brandon Valley 18-5.

Last meeting: Both carrying double-digit win streaks into the final week of the regular season, the Kernels and Lynx duked it out on Feb. 20 at the Corn Palace. Brandon Valley charged ahead by double figures early and Mitchell held a 10-point lead late, as the Kernels emerged with a 59-54 victory.

Gavin Soukup, Markus Talley and Colton Smith all provided 15 points for Mitchell, while Parker Mandel tossed in 10 points off the bench. Talley added 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals in a double-double effort, and Smith chipped in six rebounds and five assists.

For Brandon Valley, Hayden Anderson posted 12 points, while Aiden Zerr tallied 10 points and Brayden Miller connected on three 3-pointers for nine points. Josh Olthoff finished with eight points, six rebounds and four assists, and Landon Dulaney chipped in seven points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.

State tournament: Mitchell reached the title game by scoring a 69-61 win over 8-seed Sioux Falls Jefferson in the quarterfinals before racing past 5-seed Sioux Falls Washington 72-51 in the semifinals.

Brandon Valley defeated 6-seed Huron 63-48 in the quarterfinals, then knocked off 2-seed Harrisburg 61-52 in the semifinals to claim its place in the championship game.

About the Kernels:

* Mitchell enters the championship game on a class-best 16-game win streak. The Kernels, who will be making their 29th title game appearance on Saturday, have a state-leading 16 state championships all-time but are aiming for their first since 2005.

* The lone loss on Mitchell's record this season came against Harrisburg in overtime on Jan. 2.

* The Kernels have won three straight meetings with the Lynx, though the last loss in the series came at the 2021 state tournament in the consolation bracket.

* Markus Talley leads all scorers at the tournament with 43 total points in two games, going over 20 points in both contests. Gavin Soukup isn't far behind at 36 points along with 12 assists. Soukup put up 22 points and eight assists in the semifinal victory over Sioux Falls Washington.

* Colton Smith is averaging a double-double with 25 points and 24 rebounds in the tourney so far. After a 16-point, 10-rebound effort in the quarterfinals, Smith finished just shy of a second double-double at nine points and 14 rebounds in the semifinals. Gavin Hinker has added 20 points and nine rebounds down low for the Kernels.

About the Lynx:

* Brandon Valley has four state title game appearances and two championships to its credit all-time, the last of both coming in 2019.

* Next to Mitchell's active 16-game win streak, the Lynx own the second-longest streak in Class AA this season, having won 12 games in a row between Jan. 5 and Feb. 17. The Kernels were the team to end Brandon Valley's run, which was win No. 12 in Mitchell's own streak.

* Five Lynx players average at least seven points per game, the most of any team in the tournament. That includes Josh Olthoff (12.5), Aiden Zerr (10.1), Hayden Anderson (8.9), Landon Dulaney (7.9) and Brayden Miller (7.0).

* Olthoff, a 6-foot-8 force inside, has a team-leading 28 points through two games at the tournament. He dropped in 20 points with seven rebounds and three assists in the semifinal win over Harrisburg. Anderson, Olthoff's frontcourt-mate, has 22 points and 20 rebounds in the tourney, notching a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double in the semifinals.

* In the backcourt, Dulaney scored 18 points in the quarterfinal win over Huron, then snagged 11 rebounds with four assists in the semifinals. Zerr has 20 points in two games, tossing in 15 points in the semifinals.