Tanager girls hope to find the right chemistry By Parker Knox
Sportswriter For the Lady Tanagers basketball team this winter it will be a case of chemistry that determines its success – how a mixture of two returning starters, a group of juniors with considerable playing-time experience and some sophomores and freshmen with individual potential mesh into a cohesive unit. Coach Jamie Parish, whose Vermillion club went 7-12 last year and saw a streak of three straight state tournament trips end, welcomes back five letterwinners among his varsity unit of 12 athletes for his seventh year at the helm. "This will be perhaps the smallest team we have ever put on the floor," Parish observed, "but in contrast could be the quickest, most athletic and interchangeable group of girls that we have assembled." A tough schedule that starts with a home game against Harrisburg on Friday, Dec. 12, will take the Lady T's into some hostile territories, such as Crofton, Lennox, West Central and Harrisburg but will also see nine home dates. "Our kids will need to be mentally and physically tough to take the positives from the first night and try to sustain and improve upon them on the second night," Parish said. "Defensively we need to outwork our opponents. We will not be the most prolific offensive team in the gym on any given night, so it is imperative that we do not give our opponents easy baskets." The two returning starters who are being looked to for leadership are senior Sara Kjose, a good spot-up shooter, and junior Sierra Allen, a versatile post player. Kjose, Parish said, will continue to develop her game and strength on both ends of the floor while Allen, who can knock down perimeter jump shots and make plays in the paint, will need to improve her physical strength to shore up Vermillion's defense underneath. Parish has interchangeable guards in juniors Sophie and Hannah Nehlich-Arobba who run extremely hard and fill the lanes in transition. What defensive intensity they bring to the VHS perimeter game will be essential to the Tanagers' success. Parish calls junior all-around athletes Ashley Oullette and Kayla Munger "tweeners" – not really perimeter players, not really post players. He says they need to take advantage of their athleticism and quick hands to offset their lack of strength and size when matched against larger, more physical post women. Depending on how the season develops and what the team needs, Parish looks to freshmen Lexi Regnerus and Val Robinson and sophomore Kenzi Huska to help out on the perimeter and freshman Kelly Amundson to help out in the wing and post slots. "They are all solid players with different strengths that will contribute at either the varsity or JV levels for us," Parish stated. The Big 8 Conference this season again includes Vermillion, West Central, Madison, Harrisburg and Lennox. At postseason time the other opponents in District 8A will again be Beresford, Dakota Valley and Elk Point-Jefferson. Parish is being assisted by coaches Lori Jerred and Nick Mayer. The opener against Harrisburg will be the only December home date, followed by a game at Madison Dec. 23 and the Crofton holiday tourney Dec. 29-30. The Tanagers will finally return to the VHS gym for contests against Sioux City East Jan. 6 and Parkston Jan. 9.