Tanagers leash Watchdogs, are state tourney bound

Tanagers leash Watchdogs, are state tourney bound
After trailing 10-16, 17-23 and 27-37 at each quarter mark, the Vermillion Tanagers played a hectic and big-play fourth quarter and outpointed the Beresford Watchdogs 24-9 in the fourth quarter to claim the Region 4A crown 51-46 and a spot in the Class A Girls Basketball Tournament.

The Tanagers played Beresford Feb. 28 in Cimpl Arena on the Mount Marty Campus in Yankton. Their next stop will be the state tournament, which will be played March 9-11 in the Corn Palace in Mitchell.

The fourth quarter started with each team matching baskets. The Tanagers then lit up the Cimpl Complex with a pair of 3-pointers by Annie Roche and Paige Prosser, which cut Beresford's lead in half.

Alicia Brown played a furious defense as she stole the ball twice and was fouled on a defensive rebound. Her bonus free throws gave the Tanagers a slim one point lead.

Down the stretch, 8 for 9 team free throws capped by 2 for 2 by Chelsea Gauer made the final score 51-46.

The rally could be attributed to every player on the team: Roche had 18 points, Brown was 6 for 7 from the free throw line and scored 12, Michelle Olson contributed 10 points and 6 rebounds while Prosser scored 7 points and pulled down four rebounds.

Brittany Babb also scored 2 points to account for the final result. Brown had five steals and Roche and Brown each were credited with three assists.

"I am so proud of the way that our kids battled tonight," said VHS coach Jamie Parish. "It would have been easy to throw in the towel and make excuses early in the fourth quarter when things were looking rather bleak. Defensively we weren't pleased with our overall effort. We rotated correctly within our defensive principles but we didn't rotate quickly.

"We seemed to be a step slow all night long. But to Beresford's credit, every time we were a step slow or made a mistake they made plays," he said. "Coach Huth had her kids playing very well. In all honesty the reason we were able to pull out a win tonight is due to the time that our girls put in out-of-season.

"The more time and effort you put in, the tougher it becomes to break your spirit and our kids refused to be broken," coach Parish said. "They didn't let the other team, the crowd, the officials, the big game environment break their spirit. It's an awesome thing to experience from my standpoint when our kids have a ?never say die' attitude."

Parish said the best decision the Tanager coaching staff made Tuesday night was to "quit coaching" in a sense and let the players make plays.

"We were really struggling to find anything that was working offensively against Beresford's unconventional defense. During a dead ball late in the game we told the girls to play basketball, we threw out all of our structure offensively and told them its ?open gym' style, push the ball up the floor and make some plays," he said. "It's another example of how important our off-season basketball program has become. If our players had not played so many pick-up games during the off-season we would not have been able to make that type of coaching move. We really stress the positive peer pressure of our girls calling up other girls to get in the gym three or more days a week and improve during the off-season. I feel it was the determining factor in the game for us tonight."

The contest was well-played, with each team committing only 8 turnovers.

The Tanagers fell behind 16-10 at the end of the first period, trailed 23-17 after the second quarter, and then trailed 37-27 after the third period.

VHS improved its record to 14-7, while Beresford dropped to 11-11.

VHS connected on 2 of 8 three-point attempts and hit 15 of 20 free throw tries. The Tanagers hit 17 of 40 from the field, while Beresford was 17 of 38 from the field. Beresford sank 2 of 7 three-pointers and sank 10 of 15 from the line.

Individual Stats, VHS: Scoring � Roche, 18, Brown, 12, Olson, 7, Prosser, 7, Gauer, 2, Babb, 2. Rebounds � Olson, 6, Brown, 5, Prosser, 4. Assists � Roche, 3, Brown, 3. Steals � Brown, 5.

Individual Stats, Beresford: Scoring � Amy Jensen, 18, Reina Bruinsma, 15, Katie Gylfe, 5, Cori Bonte, 5, Nicky Huth, 3. Rebounds � Gylfe, 8, Bruinsma, 7. Assists � Bonte, 3. Steals � Bonte, 2.

Team rebounds: VHS � 23, Beresford � 25. Team fouls: VHS � 14, Beresford � 15.

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