If Vermillion's girls could maintain for four quarters the kind of start they had against Harrisburg last Friday, their record might be far better than it is right now.
The Tanagers got points from five different players in the first period alone and surged to an eight-point lead over the tall, athletic Tiger women.
But Harrisburg applied a pressure defense that the Tanagers had trouble handling. A good many of Vermillion's 23 turnovers came during a second-quarter stretch during which the Tigers went from a 15-7 deficit to a 21-17 lead via a 14-2 run.
Couple the miscues with a warm shooting night for Harrisburg, including seven three-point bombs, and you have a problem. Though they trailed by 29-22 at halftime, the Tanagers saw the game gradually get away from them in the second half, and the Tigers went home victors by a 60-38 count.
"Every possession is so important to us," Coach Nick Mayer said in assessing the damage created by the Harrisburg press. Besides that, "Harrisburg shot well, and we didn't," Mayer added. The Tanagers couldn't get a single three-point try to fall.
A majority of Harrisburg's offensive damage was done by senior guard Kristin Ackermann, whose team-high 15 points all came from behind the three-point circle. Katie Goldammer added 10 points. To the Tanagers' credit they did hold the Tigers' major inside force, 6'2" junior Lindsey Johnson, to eight points. Calista Winter also had eight as 10 different Tigers scored.
Sierra Allen led the Tanagers with 13 points and eight rebounds. Kelly Amundson contributed seven and Hannah Nehlich-Arobba six for Vermillion.
The Tanagers' regular season ended Tuesday with a 4-14 record in a 56-46 loss at Wagner where the Red Raiders improved to 17-2.
The Tanagers came ready to play and led after a quarter, 14-10, but Wagner's numerous weapons began to take control in the second period, and the home team had a 20-9 advantage in that quarter. Yet VHS was still within seven, 42-35, after three periods.
Amundson's return to the team after missing numerous games due to injury continued to pay dividends. She led the Tanagers with 13 points. Allen had nine points and four rebounds. Wagner had three women in double figures, led by Devon Brecke with 23.
Mayer said last week his girls have been focusing on "making some noise" in the district tournament. The time for that is now at hand.
As the fourth seed in District 8A, the Tanagers will play the top seed on the latter's home court Tuesday night at about 7:45 after the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds play each other in a 6 p.m. semifinal at the same location.
The race for the No. 1 seed is tight, but Elk Point-Jefferson has a narrow power-points lead over Beresford even though their records are the same at 14-5. Each has one game left Friday night with EP-J taking on Flandreau Indian School and Beresford playing Sioux Falls Christian. Dakota Valley also had five losses at the beginning of this week with three games remaining.
The two teams that win Tuesday's semifinals will clash Thursday in a 7 p.m. district title game at the home court of the higher remaining seed.