After winning two of three games to open the season at the Energy Classic in Gillette, Wyoming, last weekend, the Rapid City Central girls' basketball team was looking for a little momentum to begin its home season Friday night against Mitchell.
The exact opposite happened.
It was Mitchell that came out on fire, racing to a 17-5 lead at the end of the first quarter and stopping the Cobblers 64-56 at Naasz Gymnasium. Central did come back and cut the lead to four, but could get no closer.
"For a home opener, it was a disappointing game," Central coach Kraig Blomme said. "I thought we would come out and play a little better and a little harder."
The Kernels, 2-0, had the outside shot going early, hitting consecutive 3-pointers by Jordyn Cranny and Avia Haley, and closed on a 12-0 run.
The Cobblers had some chances to cut into the Mitchell lead but was unable to convert on some fast-break opportunities after forcing turnovers.
Blomme said the Kernels came out and played harder than his team.
"It is a situation where I have seen it a million times that, when you fall behind by so much, you battle hard to get back, and when it is close, it is hard to sustain," he said. "We played well a major part of the second and fourth quarters, but when you fall behind so much, it is hard to come back."
Mitchell took a 30-18 lead into the locker room at halftime.
"They made shots early and we didn't," Blomme said. "We really struggled shooting the ball in the first half (21 percent). We were better in the second half, but it was too little, too late."
Central was beginning to find some offense from Addison Young and Emma Avery's outside shot, and used a 3-pointer and basket by Jordan Heckert and two free throws by Abbie Freeman to cut the Mitchell lead to 40-36 late in the third period.
But Payton Morgan answered with a 3-pointer to close the third and Mitchell used that momentum early in the fourth.
The Kernels outscored Central 9-1 to open the final quarter, and maintained 12- to 15-point lead until the final minutes.
Blomme said a lot of credit goes to Mitchell, which hit big shots when it needed to.
"They have a lot of really good shooters; they shot the ball really well when they needed to," he said. "The Cranny (Jordan) girl and the Factor (Taylor) girl played outstanding ballgames."
Mitchell coach Wes Morgan said his team put in a lot of time working on its game over the summer, and so far it is showing.
"Once is lucky, twice is okay, maybe three times we are consistent," he said. "We have a couple more games before we can hang our hats on whether we can score or not. The kids are into it, and I have a great group of seniors and they are carrying us that way."
Mitchell shot 65 percent from the field (24-of-37) and hit 7-of-15 3-pointers.
"The game is easier when the ball goes in, and last year the ball didn't go in," Morgan said. "The kids did a lot of work to make it happen this year and it has changed so far the two games that we have played this year."
Factor led the way for Mitchell with 16 points and Limberg and Cranny scored 11 each.
Young paced the Cobblers, 2-2, with 14 points and Avery scored 11. Central was 16-of-51 from the field, hitting 8-of-24 3s. Mitchell out-rebounded the Cobblers 38-18.
"Four games in we are learning some things about our team," Blomme said. "I think we're going to struggle rebounding, and right now we're having a hard time defending the perimeter, and against good shooting teams like Mitchell is not good."
The Cobblers host Huron today at 1:30 p.m., while Mitchell goes to Rapid City Stevens, also at 1:30 p.m. Stevens defeated Huron 49-34 Friday night.