VHS boys suffer pair of heartbreaking losses By Parker Knox
Sportswriter In one game the Vermillion Tanagers were within one point with under two minutes left. In the other they were within two points with under 45 seconds left. But the end result in both games last week was another pair of heartbreaking defeats after they had played their opponents tooth and nail. The Tanagers lost to district rival Dakota Valley, 53-50, on Tuesday and fell at Harrisburg, 46-39, on Friday. Vermillion has one regular-season contest remaining – at home vs. Canton on Feb. 27 – before opening District 8A play at Beresford on March 5. "In both games last week we were happy with the effort," Coach Jay Drake said. "Now it's the execution. We just didn't do that down the stretch. I feel bad for the kids because they played so hard." Slowing down Dakota Valley, a team averaging 70 points per game and having topped 100 in its previous game, the Tanagers secured the pace they wanted, but a bad stretch at the end of the third period and into the fourth proved fatal. "We battled right back into it," Drake said, "but we couldn't make quite enough plays at the end. We may get another shot at them in the district." The Tanagers led 13-12 after a quarter and trailed 27-26 at the half. An exciting 8-0 run to start the second half with six of those points scored by Blaine Olson lifted VHS to a lead as high as seven points. Later in the period Tyler Johnson's bomb made it a six-point lead. But at that point it was the Panthers' turn to take a 13-2 run that took them into a five-point lead early in the final stanza. Vermillion kept fighting back. A Cole Andre bucket made the Tanagers' deficit one with 3:05 left. An Olson field goal and a Kylen Freidel free throw made it a 51-50 deficit with 1:35 to play. Trailing 53-50, the Tanagers had a final chance after a timeout with 12 seconds remaining but couldn't get off a decent shot in time to tie the game. Olson had 18 points and six rebounds while Freidel 14 points and eight boards. Kyle Nemec contributed five rebounds, and Andre had eight assists. The game against Harrisburg, a team to whom the Tanagers lost by 20 two months earlier, saw a 23-23 tie at halftime and a 30-28 Vermillion lead after three quarters. Two free throws by Freidel with 4:21 remaining tied the contest at 35-35, and at that point Freidel had 17 of his team's 35 points. A Cole Andre field goal brought VHS to within 39-37 with 1:02 left, but the Tanagers had fouls to give, and it took valuable seconds out of the final minute for enough fouls to be committed so that the Tigers had to go to the stripe. When they did, they sank six in a row within a 12-second span to clinch the win. "We wish we could tell the kids that, if you put in great effort for 32 minutes, you will win," Drake said, "but we didn't make crucial plays in the last minutes." Nemec had a great night of 17 points. Andre scored eight points with three steals. Freidel contributed all over the court with five points, eight rebounds, two assists and three swipes. Olson scored nine. D.Valley … 13 26 41 50 VHS …….. 12 27 40 53 VHS: Ustad 0-0 0-0 0, Steele 2-3 0-0 4, Rasmussen 1-3 0-0 2, Andre 0-6 0-0 0, Johnson 2-5 2-2 8, Freidel 5-7 4-6 14, Olson 8-16 2-4 18, Nemec 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 20-42 8-12 50. DV: 21-55 5-5 53. VHS ……… 7 22 30 39 Harrisburg 13 22 28 46 VHS: Ustad 0-1 0-0 0, Steele 0-0 0-0 0, Rasmussen 0-0 0-0 0, Andre 3-9 0-1 8, Johnson 0-0 0-1 0, Freidel 2-10 1-1 5, Olson 4-9 1-1 9, Nemec 6-11 5-5 17. Totals 15-40 7-9 39. Harrisburg: 18-37 7-16 46.