There was a lot on the line and the Aberdeen Central girls’ basketball squad met the challenge at Golden Eagles Arena Friday night. Central rode its seniors to a 50-43 win over Mitchell, clinching the Eastern South Dakota Conference championship in the process.
“We’re still playing for something,” said Central coach Dawn Seiler. “We’re playing for seeding. We’re playing for an ESD championship. It’s senior night. That’s a lot of things going on out there.”
The Central seniors stepped up big down the stretch to help erase a rough first half.
“I always believe that competition bring out the best in people,” said Central coach Dawn Seiler. “When it comes to seniors they have the ability to lead and they have ability to get through some of those tough stretches. I’m very proud of that group.”
It was senior Abby Kopecky who found herself in the offensive spotlight against the Kernels with the game on the line. With the Golden Eagles trailing early in the final period, Kopecky scored 11 unanswered points as Central took control.
“She struggled a little bit in that first half,” Seiler said. “It was good to see her get back on track.”
Another senior provided the spark that ignited that fourth-quarter surge. Melanie Jacobs nailed a long three-point field goal right before the buzzer to end the third period. That gave the Eagles the lead and put a bounce in their step.
“Mel hit that big three-pointer,” Seiler said. “It seemed that kind of got the kids going. Sometimes it just takes a big play like that to get the kids going.”
Defensively, Central silenced the Mitchell offense, holding the Kernels scoreless for more than five minutes down the stretch.
“I thought we did play really well defensively. I thought we frustrated them a little bit,” Seiler said. “They’re inside player (Macy Kempf) is good. She does so many things. She’s just a complete player. I thought Kianna Mounga did a nice job of just holding her down. Once she got frustrated, it just didn’t seem like they were the same offensively.”
Kopecky finished with a game-high 21 points to lead Central. Jacobs followed with 10.
Kempf topped the Kernels with 15.
Central, 17-2 on the year, concludes its regular season today with a game at top-rated Sioux Falls Washington. The Warriors have two of the most dynamic players in the state in 6-foot-5 Sydni Schetnan and 6-foot-2 Ndjakalenga Mwenentanda.
Seiler noted the Schetnan is a two-sport recruit heading to Louisville.
“Every year we’ve watched her get better and better,” Seiler said.
As for Mwenentanda, Seiler said, “She’s getting looks from all the big schools.”
Put them on the same high school team and it causes major problems for opponents.
“That’s really a unique combination to have,” Seiler said.
MITCHELL: Macy Kempf 6 3-3 15, Avia Haley 3 0-0 9, Camryn Krogman 3 2-2 9, Sawyer Stoebner 2 0-0 4, Taylor Giblin 1 0-0 3, Sarah Sebert 1 0-0 3. Totals 16-37 5-5 43.
ABERDEEN CENTRAL: Jordan Hermansen 0 1-2 1, Melanie Jacobs 3 2-2 10, Taryn Hettich 0 1-4 1, Abby Kopecky 7 5-8 21, Brookly Kusler 4 1-2 9, Kianna Mounga 3 2-2 8. Totals 17-42 12-30 50.
Mitchell 12 26 36 43
Aberdeen Central 14 22 37 50
3-point field goals – Haley 3, Krogman, Giblin, Sebert; Jacobs 2, Kopecky 2. Fouled out – Adaya Plastow. Total fouls – Mitchell 17; Aberdeen Central 10. Rebounds – Mitchell 22 (Stoebner 6); Aberdeen Central 26 (Mounga 7). Turnovers – Mitchell 15; Aberdeen Central 11. Assists – Mitchell 10; Aberdeen Central 11 (Hettich 6).
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