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‘Go get it’: Mitchell’s Sawyer Stoebner having big rebounding season for Kernels – Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL – Not being the tallest player on the court doesn’t seem to matter much to Sawyer Stoebner this season.

Since the beginning of Mitchell’s season, the junior has been a constant force rebounding the ball.

She compiled impressive numbers in Mitchell’s first eight games of the season, hitting six double-doubles, including five straight. At the Hoop City Classic against Campbell County, Wyo., she had a season-high 20 rebounds, just three fewer than the Mitchell girls’ high school basketball record.

How can Stoebner bounce the ball so effectively at 5-foot-9?

For them it’s a lot of different things, but it all starts with a rush.

“I think it’s about effort,” said Stöbner. “I think that’s what you can’t really train to run after them and chase after them.”

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Mitchell’s Sawyer Stoebner comes down with a rebound over Sioux Falls Lincoln’s Kierra Lubovich (44) during a high school girls basketball game Friday, January 20, 2023 at the Corn Palace.

Zech Lambert / Republic of Mitchell

Adding to her effort, Stoebner laughed when she mentioned that she’s been “blessed with a pair of long arms and big hands,” and her hands are big and strong enough to pick up a basketball.

But there’s more to her 11.9 rebounds per game than effort and size.

For one thing, her knowledge of basketball helps her get in the right position to have a chance of landing a rebound. Knowing if it’s a long shot is more of a long rebound or when to go to the back of the basket and understanding where to be and when to be there.

“Some kids have a talent for knowing where the ball might land,” said head coach Dave Brooks.

Of course, her athletics also help her. Though she couldn’t give an exact number, she said her standing vertical jump is around 21 to 22 inches. She works on it a lot over the spring and summer before getting back into volleyball, doing some box jumps, cleans, and various jumping and agility drills to work on her vertical. Her athleticism was credited in 2021 when she broke the MHS record for volleyball blocks in a match with nine.

She also plays in the Pentagon Power program (formerly South Dakota Attack) during the summer, where she’s had the opportunity to train against and work with bigger players, such as Tea Area’s Katie Vasecka, who has signed on to play basketball at South Dakota State to play. Stoebner also said that she had a different role on that team than her role with Mitchell, which helped her in the long run.

“I didn’t have a really big offensive role with my summer team, so I was very proud of my rebounds,” said Stöbner. “I feel like (rebounding) just came naturally this season.”

It has become almost instinctive to her. When the shot goes up, it’s more natural than anything as she thinks, “Go get it.”

Although she puts the ball on offense as a point guard most of the time, like she did last year, her rebound has increased by more than two rebounds per game, and her showing up on the glass was for the Kernels, who, from Crucial Brooks realized before the season it was too small a team.

The rebound challenge is likely to get more difficult as the season progresses as Mitchell’s schedule increases with teams with larger players. Stoebner acknowledged that when she competes against the bigger girls as well, the fundamentals like boxing become more important as sometimes it’s not possible to overtake them.

But even when there was greater competition, Stoebner still managed to tear down board after board for the kernels.

“When there’s a crowd and they go up, it seems like she’s always going to get down on it with two hands — not just one hand and the tilt — she goes up and grabs it,” Brooks said.

The recovery goes hand in hand with a solid offensive season. Early in their game against Harrisburg, Stoebner is averaging a double-double and leading the team with 15.3 points per game. But if there’s a night when the offense doesn’t come off the way it usually comes from her, the rebounds certainly have.

“If I don’t score, if my shots don’t fall, I just go to the ball,” said Stöbner. “It will help our team in one way or another.”

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