Coming off a season where both Mitchell basketball teams made the state tournament, the Kernels look for a repeat as they open up the 2023-24 campaign at Huron on Friday night.
The Mitchell boys return starters Markus Talley, Gavin Soukup and sixth-man Colton Smith from last year’s team that reached the AA state championship game.
“As a coach, you don’t want to be a fan, but I’m a huge fan of Marcus Tally,” said third-year head coach Ryker Kreutzfeldt. “Just the way he goes about how he approaches the game. I can’t say enough good things about him. I think in terms of skill, he might be the most skilled player that I’ve ever coached.”
Talley will run the Kernels offense this season as the point guard, while 6-5 sophomore Colton Smith will anchor Mitchell down low.
Smith came off the bench last season and averaged 9.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a freshman, including 20 points, five rebounds and four blocks in the season opener last year at Huron.
“We think he (Smith) can be one of the best players at his position in AA as a sophomore already,” said Kreutzfeldt. “He rebounds it well. He’s going to be playing on the perimeter a little bit. I don’t like to compare him, and he’s probably not there shooting-wise, but I think he’s got the same skill set as a Caden Hinker where he can have the ball in his hands, he can go inside, he can go outside. Jump shots probably not there quite yet, but we’ve seen a lot of really good things.”
Junior guard Sutton Thompson and junior forward Gavin Hinker will also get their first taste of extended varsity action this year for Mitchell.
“I’ve never seen a kid get as better as he’s gotten in the last two, three years,” Kreutzfeldt said of Hinker. “He’s just taken off. He’s going to have some bumps in the road and some nights where he’s sitting and trying to learn from it. But I’ve been really impressed with him. He’s just a bully. He can rebound really well.”
For the Mitchell girls, they became the first ever No. 12 seed to reach the AA state tournament last season with a 53-49 win over No. 5 Brandon Valley.
The Kernels finished sixth at state after defeating Watertown in the consolation semifinals 48-37.
“The kids are talking about how they want to go back to state,” second-year head coach Dave Brooks said. “But they know how much work it is to get there. That was just a great way to end last season.”
Two-time All-State selection Sawyer Stoebner is back for her senior season. The Black Hill State recruit averaged a double-double last season with 14.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game.
“Sawyer just continues to develop her outside shot more, said Brooks. “Her inside game is really good and she can put the ball on the floor. That’s what makes her so tough. She can get that rebound, then she can turn and go. She’s just tough to stop in the open court.”
Point guard Addie Siemsen is only a sophomore, but this will be her third year on the varsity after averaging 10.4 points per game last season as a freshman. Siemsen made the game-winning three pointer last season to beat the buzzer in the season opener at Huron to give Mitchell a 47-44 win.
Senior Allison Meyerink steps into the starting lineup after being the first player off the bench last season, while junior guards Lauren VanOverschelde and Carsyn Weich give the Kernels one of the more experienced teams in Class AA.
“I think that that does help us, and that’s why we feel a little more comfortable putting in some different things this year,” Brooks said regarding Mitchell’s experience. “We had a little more time to do that because of the kids familiarity with the other things that we’ve run the last couple of years.”
KORN News Radio will have the pregame show at Huron starting at 5:45 pm, with the girls game at 6 pm, followed by the boys at 7:45.
You can listen to past Kernels game at kornradio.com/games