Its an early New Year's Eve day (4:30 AM start on no sleep) trip to The World's Only Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD for day 2 of the inaugural Mike Miller Classic. Thanks to blizzard warnings in Mitchell, the schedule is cut to 2 games , DLS vs Red Cloud and Memphis White Station, TN vs Mitchell, SD. The warnings look bogus until the South Dakota border as the last hour from Sioux Falls to Mitchell was treacherous in near white out conditions. But we arrive an hour before game time so I get a chance to blow a layup and then make the putback to say I got in some shooting on the court. Really neat venue with corn murals outside and inside the arena. 3 sides with murals. Tight squeeze radio booths perched in the upper corners with the American Flag draped from one of those. For Mitchell games, the 16 championship banners and Mike Miller's retired number banner are lowered. Miller won state titles in 96 and 97 but not as a senior in 98. Worth noting that former Badger Joe Krabbenhoft never won one at Sioux Falls Roosevelt either. After game 1, I did sample the local food for you the loyal reader. My taco in a bag was a major surprise as it was doritos and hamburger slathered with cheese. The Sloppy Joe probably would have been a better choice. As to the song of the day, the artist is a no-brainer choice and the video for this is highly regarded so our easy choice is ...
Song of the Day
Freak on a Leash (clean version) - Korn
Game Time 1: De La Salle vs Red Cloud, SD
South Dakota normally plays 8 minute quarters but we have 2 16 minute halves with a 35 second shot clock for the games. Only 2 or 3 times all day that the shot clock comes into play despite zone defenses from Red Cloud and Mitchell. DLS off to a good start as Jonah Travis dunks and Riley Dearring nails a pullup. Then Bretson McNeal with back to back 3s and a skip to Lamonte Hall for another 3 against the 2-3 zone. 18-6 Islanders with 7:25 left in the half. Thanks to offensive rebounding despite being undersized, Red Cloud hangs around and is only down 24-16 with 3:45 left in the half. DLS finishes strong with Bretson McNeal off a regular Islander inbound set for 3, Travis with 2 and a dunk from the post and McNeal with his 4th 3s of the half to beat the halftime buzzer. 34-18 DLS at the half. Then the counter inbound play is a lob dunk to Travis, Travis to Dearring for 3, Melvin Collins from McNeal for 3, Travis with another dunk, McNeal goes glass and Collins from Travis on the nice bounce pass leading the fast break. Its a 14-3 Islanders run over the first 3:40 of the second half . 48-21 with 12:20 left. DLS expands the lead to 35+ and they go on to win 71-43. Bretson McNeal 16 points on 4 3s. Riley Dearring 13 points. Jonah Travis 13 points 4 boards and 4 assists. Melvin Collins also in double figures with 11 points.
Game Time 2: White Station (Memphis, TN) at Mitchell, SD
The second game featured Rodent recruit Andre Hollins against the hosts. White Station also has a pair of bigs that appeared at the Best Buy Summer Classic in July. Nino Johnson is a SE Missouri St signee. Marvin Williams will attend Lipscomb. Super frosh Leron Black didn't make the trip due to illness. Mitchell was ranked #2 in SoDak coming into this tourney. Head coach Gary Munsen has a career record of 629-267 in 37 years at Mitchell with 9 state titles. He rarely plays zone but he played 2-3 almost all night in this one. But it was no match for Hollins. He was in the lane at will. Mitchell hung around in the first half and was only down 6 at the half despite 8 late points from Hollins. White Station had a 17 point 2nd half lead and won 62-50. Hollins 34 points on 9-17 shooting (1-7 from 3) and 15-19 at the charity stripe. Nothing special from either big guy which was disappointing. Junior Brady Maxwell off the Kernels bench with 19 points. Look for him in the NSIC down the road. South Dakota teams 0-7 in the 2 day event
The Great Adventure
Now the fun begins. People were wondering if anyone would get out before Sunday. Out the side door and its crystal clear. Onto the highway and 1 lane is clear with drifts in lane 2. So its surprisingly good time to Sioux Falls for a dinner break with the NSIC's best shooting assistant coach. Signs show that I90 is closed from Sioux Falls to Rapid City and I29 is closed from Sioux Falls to the North Dakota line. Figuring that the weather is north, I90 seems like a good idea to Albert Lea rather than coming back via Mankato. After a break in Fairmont, then the fun begins. 2 instances of blowing snow causing white out conditions almost most bring the trip to an immediate halt. But the 3rd time is a charm and its off the right edge and into the ditch 20 miles west of Albert Lea. No injuries and the authorities are on site quickly to help out. Doesn't look bad, but the car is going nowhere. The 2nd officer has the all important shovel to dig out of the hard packed snow. A couple rounds of digging and pushing and the 3rd time pushes the car out. In the process of pushing, I end up in line with a spinning wheel clearing out snow and mud so I'm a complete mess of snow and mud from head to toe. No tow truck needed and we're back on the road. Only 1 more stretch of bad road and I finally arrive home at midnight.