Tanager girls prepare for postseason play By Parker Knox
Sports Writer Postseason girls basketball comes to Vermillion on Tuesday, Feb. 24, when semifinals of District 8AA are played at the VHS gym at 6 and 7:45 p.m. The two winners among VHS, Elk Point-Jefferson, Beresford and Dakota Valley will play for the championship on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. So far as the Tanagers are concerned, they will face top-seed Elk Point-Jefferson on Tuesday. "Our goal is to walk into that game mentally prepared," Coach Jamie Parish said on Saturday after a tough week in which his girls lost three games in five nights, one of them by seven points and the other on a gut-wrenching three-point buzzer-beater, as well as battling illness among the squad members. The week began with a 74-37 loss at West Central, which led at halftime 28-18. "West Central dominated us from start to finish and took away everything we tried to throw at them," Parish said. Sierra Allen had 10 points to lead the Tanagers. A 10-minute stretch during which they were outscored 16-2 in the first half against Dakota Valley proved fatal later. The Tanagers trailed 16-9 at halftime and were still behind by 30-22 after three quarters. But a 10-0 Vermillion streak to start the final period made it anybody's ballgame. Kelly Amundson, who was so sick she hadn't made the trip to West Central the previous night, had key baskets during that stretch. A Sara Kjose three-pointer following Allen's steal gave Vermillion a 35-34 lead with 54 seconds left. However, the Tanagers missed on the front end of a pair of one-and-one free-throw opportunities with 45 and 21 seconds to go. Allen made one of two free throws with 5.4 seconds remaining to put the Tanagers ahead by two, but the Panthers' Abby Huber, following a timeout with 3.7 seconds left, threw up a bomb in time to beat the buzzer to give the visitors a stunning 37-36 win. Amundson with 12, Allen with eight and Kjose with six were high VHS scorers. Harrisburg's Lindsey Johnson had 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks to lead her team to a 56-47 win Friday. The Tanagers again had some bad first-half stretches, including an 8-0 Harrisburg streak and another 15-2 run. Amazingly the Tanagers, down by 12 at halftime, were within 38-36 after three quarters. Three points by Allen early in the fourth put Vermillion within 42-40. They were within two again at the 2:30 mark after a pair of Sophie Nehlich-Arroba free throws, but they could get no closer. The game was even in field-goal shooting (both teams at 39 percent), in turnovers (12 each) and in rebounding, but Harrisburg capitalized 19 times on 22 free-throw opportunities while the Tanagers made eight of 13. Lexi Regnerus led the scoring with 10 points, Allen and Hannah Nehlich-Arobba had nine each, Kjose eight and Sophie Nehlich-Arroba six.