Lynx boys ‘pop’ Kernels on buzzer shot

Jill Meier, Journal editor
Payton Tietjen works his way around Mitchell defender Zane Alm in Thursday’s exciting 51-48 ESD Conference win. The 5-1 Lynx boys begn a three-game road schedule Friday when they travel to Brookings. Jill Meier/BV Journal

You can’t script edge-of-your-seat endings any better than what unfolded in the final 2.4 seconds of Thursday’s Eastern South Dakota Conference tilt between the Brandon Valley Lynx and Mitchell Kernel boys.
With the game knotted at 48-all, 11 ticks on the clock and the ball in Mitchell’s possession, BV’s glue-like defense forced the visitors to turn the ball over with 2.4 ticks left on the clock. 
BV’s Aydin Lloyd in-bounded the ball to an on-the-run Jackson Hilton, who immediately pushed it forward to an unguarded Joe Kolbeck in the left wing. Without hesitance, the Lynx junior, who finished the night with 10 points, took aim and as the horn sounded, and the 3-point shot swished through the hoop to preserve a memorable 51-48 Eastern South Dakota Conference win.
Then, the Lynx celebrated by pouncing on the game hero.
BV head coach Brent Deckert said that’s exactly the game plan drawn up in the timeout.
“In that situation, I really wanted Joe to take the last shot, and we just got lucky that Joe’s guy left him,” Deckert said. “Out of all of the good shots that we took – and we took a bunch of good shots that didn’t go in – Joe took one, just kind of flicked it up there from 23 feet, and it goes in.”
Mitchell came out strong at the start on Thursday, popping in the first four points before Kolbeck connected for BV’s first two of the game. The Kernels’ Caden Hinker dropped one in from long range to give his team the 7-2 edge. Gavin Terhark dumped in the next five points for BV, the first off of an assist by Jaksen Deckert, and the second from the perimeter to knot the game at 7-all. The two teams traded shots the rest of the way, and by the quarter’s end, BV trailed 13-11.
The Lynx out-scored their guests 18-9 in the second quarter, and gott the job done through a variety of sources. Jaxon LaBrie opened the quarter with a 3-pointer, and Terhark reeled off BV’s next four points followed by a layup from Hilton to make it a 20-16 game. Following a bucket by Terhark, Hilton delighted the hometown crowd with a dunk and followed up by answering Ben Helleloid’s tre with a 3-pointer. LaBrie stole the ball on Mitchell’s next possession and took it the distance for a lay-up. Mitchell closed out the quarter with a basket by Carter Jacobsen, and by the half, the Lynx held a slight 29-22 advantage.
The Lynx kept Mitchell at a minimal spread in the third. Zane Alm opened the second half with a quick two, but Kolbeck charged back with a 3-pointer from the key. A dunk by Hilton in front of BV’s student fan section electrified the Lynx gym for a second time and that was followed by a Terhark block. The Kernels, however, didn’t fold, and by the quarter’s end, BV’s lead had been trimmed to five, 42-37.
The Kernels regained the lead (42-43) with 5 minutes, 28 seconds to play in the fourth on a hook shot by Hinker, and Alm upped the spread to three with a follow-up basket. BV’s first bucket of the quarter came at the 3-minute mark, and was scored by Terhark. The senior post took the ball away on Mitchell’s ensuing possession and Kolbeck weaved his way through traffic for a determined two to give the Lynx the 46-45 edge. A 3-pointer by Helleloid gave Mitchell the lead again before Hilton dropped one in to make it a 48-48 game with 39 seconds to play.
With the game clock down to 11 seconds, the Kernels called a timeout to draw up a game-winning scheme. Mitchell came out of the break with a plan to put the ball in Jacobsen’s hands at the top of the key. Instead, it glanced off the senior’s foot when he turned to dribble, which set up BV’s exciting finish.
“It’s a crazy game,” Deckert said, “because we out-played them most the game, not at the beginning, but then we certainly did in the middle, and in the fourth quarter, we just couldn’t get off of 42 or 43 points, or whatever we were sitting at.”
Despite coming away with the victory, the Lynx coach said there’s still room for improvement in the yet young season.
“We’d call timeouts and we’d try to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to run this’ and we come out of the huddle and they would not even be ready to run what we’re trying to execute,” he said.
Following Thursday’s win, the Lynx began a seven-day break, which Deckert said is needed to get his team healthy.
“I think some things caught up with us: a really good game against DeLaSalle, some lethargic practices, and the fact that we had six kids gone from school today (Friday, due to influenza), so this seven-day break is coming at a perfect time, because if it wasn’t coming now, we might have to skip playing a certain level of basketball,” he said.
Deckert said Mitchell, which lists just one senior this year, is much improved over last year.
“They’re not an accident,” he said. “Their guards struggled a little bit, but they’ve got two very good bigs that are going to be able to match up with any other bigs in the state. And when they’re shooting it in and hitting tough shots, which is what they were doing last night, they’re a pretty good team, and they’re a team that has to execute in order for them to be successful and they’re doing a really good job of that. We, on the other hand, need to get healthy, and once we get healthy, then maybe we’ll be a little bit better where we can get after each other again.”
Absent from Thursday’s lineup was BV senior Thomas Scholten. 
“When you take a look at the stat sheet, you’ll think Thomas hasn’t brought us anything,” Deckert said. “But what he does bring is a calm, athletic demeanor to the floor when he’s out there, and when he’s not out there, then we have to screw with our lineup a little bit, and that’s harder than what people think it is.”
A trio of Lynx finished the night in double figures. Terhark led the way with 17, followed by Hilton’s 15 and 10 from Kolbeck. LaBrie tossed in five. The Lynx shot 74 percent from two-point range, 17-23, and 33 percent from beyond the arc, 5-15. They had minimal opportunities at the free throw line, where they cashed in 2-of-4.
Two Mitchell players – Hinker and Jacobsen – scored 12 points each. Zane Alm tossed in eight, and Gavyn Degen and Helleloid both dropped in seven.
The teams matched up well on the boards Thursday night, with both squads hauling down 19. BV’s charge was led by Terhark’s seven and five from Hilton. Jacobsen led Mitchell’s effort on the glass with seven. The Lynx and Kernels matched up with 10 assists each. Jaksen Deckert accounted for three and Jaxon LaBrie was credited with two. For Mitchell, Helleloid and Hinker each dished off three.
Terhark picked off four of the team’s 11 total steals; Deckert had two. Mitchell registered a half-dozen steals, two of which were the work of Jacobsen.
BV was charged with 11 turnovers and nine fouls. Michell committed just six fouls and turned the ball over on 15 occasions.
The 5-1 Lynx begin a three-game road schedule this Friday when they head to Brookings. BV is also scheduled to play at Sioux Falls Roosevelt on Jan. 14 and will make the haul to Watertown on Jan. 16. All three games tip-off at 7 p.m.
Mitchell              13 22 37 48
Brandon Valley  11 29 42 51
Brandon Valley (2PFG, 3PFG, FT, TP): Jaxon LaBrie 1-4 1-4 0-0 5; Jaksen Deckert 1-2 0-2 0-0 2; Joe Kolbeck 2-2 2-5 0-0 10; Aydin Lloyd 1-1 0-0 0-0 2; Payton Tietjen 0-1 0-0 0-2 0; Jackson Hilton 6-6 1-3 0-0 15; Gavin Terhark 6-7 1-1 2-2 17. Totals: 17-23 5-15 2-4 51.


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