Tanagers earn trip back to State ‘A’ Tournament

Tanagers earn trip back to State 'A' Tournament
The Vermillion Tanagers stamped their return ticket to the State A Girls' Basketball Tournament by whitewashing the Canton C-Hawks 63-45 in Lennox Tuesday night.

Behind a strong defensive effort and a barrage of three-pointers in the first half, there was little drama as to who would prevail in the Region 4A Championship.

Though scoring was limited to just a single free throw by Vermillion's Alicia Brown in the opening minutes, the Tanagers kept the C-Hawks off the board for the first five minutes of play as Brown began to sink shots to loosen up Canton's defense.

Senior point guard Annie Roche dished to Brittany Bye for a transition basket and then pulled up for a jumper for Vermillion's first field goals.

Brown then swished a pair of three-pointers and Chelsea Gauer hit from long range for a 14-6 Tanager lead after a quarter.

"Everybody was really hitting their shots," said Roche of the quick Tanager start. "We played some good defense and got some easy baskets."

"My team just dishes it to me and we pass the ball around the horn so well," said Brown. "We wanted to go out there quick and get a lead and that's what we did; we just played real well together."

The C-Hawks got baskets from Rachel Miller, Janae Stahlecker and Morgan Sorlie to account for their first-quarter scoring.

A 12-0 run by the Tanagers to open the second quarter all but sealed Canton�s fate.

Brown dropped a dime to Rachel Odens to start the furious Tanager tear and then the 5-9 junior corralled a steal and took it in for an uncontested lay-up. Gauer knocked down her second trey of the game and Brown nailed her third as the Tanagers led 26-6 with 5:39 to play in the first half.

Alexa Walker added a trey and an 18-foot jumper and Gauer stepped outside for one more trey as Vermillion led 36-20 at the half.

Brown had 12 points at the break as Gauer scored nine.

The third quarter was foul-filled for both teams, but Brown made the most of the tight calls by knocking down nine of 10 free throws during the frame. Brown also canned a 17-foot jumper and then scored on a short jumper in the lane to account for her game-high 25 points by the end of the third quarter.

Canton�s Connie Aasheim drained a three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to give the C-Hawk faithful their only moment of the night to cheer, but the Tanagers still led 51-31.

Gauer and Walker each drained fourth-quarter treys as the Tanagers just had to wait to celebrate the 4A crown with the 63-45 win.

The tone of the game was set as Vermillion head coach Jamie Parish matched the 5-9 Brown on Canton�s eighth-grade point-guard, Jaicee Ulmer, and Roche on Aasheim.

�We know Alicia�s a real good defender with long arms and that gave Ulmer some problems,� said Parish. �We put Roche on Aasheim, who�s been their best player the last three weeks and she barely scored.�

The Tanagers feature a smaller lineup, but turning defense into offense and getting timely shooting from Brown, Roche, Gauer and Walker left the C-Hawks to picking their poison.

�Annie�s extremely unselfish,� said Parish of his senior point. �She averages 18 points, but she really didn�t need the points tonight; she was just worried about doing the things we needed to win.

Gauer finished with 14 points as Roche scored nine and Walker netted eight points.

For the Tanagers, the trip to state will be their third in a row. Vermillion finished seventh in last year�s tourney. �It feels just as good this time as the first,� said Roche. �I think that success is breeding success and that will benefit us.� The Tanagers begin State A play next Thursday at Spearfish.

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