The first time Vermillion played District 8A's top seed, Elk Point-Jefferson, a month ago, the Tanagers were able to keep the Huskies' ace, Chrissy Strassburg, comparatively in check, and EP-J escaped the VHS gym with a two-point win.
But Tuesday night when it mattered a great deal more, Strassburg was a one-woman wrecking crew, and, worse yet, she had help.
Having earned the right to play the girls basketball district semifinals on their home court, the Huskies defeated the Tanagers, 48-37, to advance to last night's championship game against Dakota Valley, which had to rally in the second half to avoid Beresford, 36-32.
Coach Nick Mayer's Tanager girls came ready to play and were still in a 12-12 tie after the first quarter. EP-J gained a slight advantage in the second period to take a 21-17 lead into halftime.
But Strassburg and teammate Reanna Bertram bombarded the Tanagers with a total of seven three-point artillery shells. Strassburg sank four of her eight three-point tries and finished with 25 points as well as 10 rebounds. Bertram had 13 points, including three successful long-range shots.
Sierra Allen had 11 points and seven rebounds to lead her team in both categories in her last game as a Tanager. Lexi Regnerus, one of seven sophomores on Mayer's roster, also had 11 points.
Besides Allen, Mayer's program will lose four other players to graduation, including Sarah Day, Hannah Nehlich-Arobba, Sophie Nehlich-Arobba and Kayla Munger. From the current varsity roster the seven sophomores and two current juniors will form the nucleus of next winter's team. Several of them as junior varsity players this season have had an outstanding season, providing hope for the 2010-11 campaign.
This year's varsity finished with a record of 4-16. The Tanagers whipped Tea Area in December, then won their other three games over a 10-day, four-game span in late January, taking down Canton, Dell Rapids and West Central. Among their 16 defeats were an overtime loss by four points, a two-point defeat and a one-point loss.