Tanager boys end season on positive note By Parker Knox
Sportswriter A well-balanced attack to which all eight men who played made a contribution allowed the Vermillion Tanagers to end the regular season on a positive note. The Tanagers won two of their last three games, including a 69-58 triumph over Canton in the home finale Friday. All eight men scored, seven of them made the rebounds chart, six of them contributed assists, and seven of them stole the ball once as Vermillion rolled to a big first-half lead, then fought off a second-half Canton rally to pick up victory No. 6 in 20 games. The Tanagers played in District 8A semifinal action against Dakota Valley in Beresford Thursday night, and if they won that one, they would be in the district championship game Saturday night at Augustana's Elmen Center at 7 p.m. against Beresford or Elk Point-Jefferson. Coming into Friday's game, Canton had won two straight and had scored 100 points in one of those wins whereas Vermillion hadn't scored more than 61 points in any one contest, but the Tanagers put 40 points on the board in the first half alone against the C-Hawks. Coach Jay Drake, pleased as he was at that fact, was even more excited that his club held Canton to only 21 points in the half. "We did a great job in the first half against their pressure," Drake said, and the Tanagers kept it up into the third quarter. A 40-21 halftime lead increased to a 26-point edge at 50-24 midway through the third stanza when Canton began to warm up and, in Drake's words, "we started to play not to lose." When that advantage reached 26 points, Drake had high hopes of getting everybody off the bench and into the game, but a tinge of panic set in as Canton got closer and closer, eventually reaching within nine points of the Tanagers twice. The plan to play everybody in sight didn't materialize as the Tanagers had to again get to work to save the game and earn the No. 3 seed for the district tournament. Starting the fourth quarter down by 57-43, Canton wanted to foul, and foul they did. The officials even called some of those fouls! In response Vermillion made enough free throws to keep the C-Hawks at bay. As they built their lead back up to 14 points, the Tanagers had made nine of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter. They went on to sink three more out of six in the last 67 seconds. Vermillion had five men score in double figures, led by Jason Rasmussen with 16 points off the bench in 7-of-8 field-goal shooting. He closed both the first and second periods by being in the right place at the right time, putting back the rebound of a teammate's missed shot to beat the buzzer in both cases. Tyler Johnson's final high school home game saw him score 15. Blaine Olson added 14, Cole Andre 13, Kylen Friedel 11 and Kyle Nemec eight. Andre, as usual, added to his assists total – seven this time – and had six rebounds. Freidel grabbed eight defensive rebounds and had six assists. Canton had four double-figure scorers, including Ben Short with 20, Jared Twedt with 13, Jordan Johnson with 11 and Jake Roskan with 10. Twedt also had 10 assists. The Tanagers posted a 29-15 rebounding advantage. They made eight of 18 three-point attempts, including three each by Johnson and Andre. "The kids have stayed positive all year," Drake said in summarizing the 6-14 regular season, "and they now know they at least have a chance to be competitive. It took time for them to adjust to our new staff, but all year they had a great attitude." Canton … 12 21 43 67 Vermillion 24 40 57 81 VHS: Ustad 1-1 0-0 3, Steele 0-0 1-2 1, Rasmussen 7-8 2-3 16, Andre 4-10 2-4 13, Johnson 4-6 4-6 15, Freidel 4-12 2-3 11, Olson 6-12 2-4 14, Nemec 3-4 2-2 8. Totals 29-53 15-24 81. Canton: 25-55 9-14 67.