Tanager girls don’t let victory elude them

This time the Vermillion girls weren�t going to let a victory get away from them.

 A week after a game-long lead disappeared in the final minute in a wrenching loss at Tea Area, the Tanagers went on an early 9-0 run to take a lead over Sioux City East and never lost it, winning by 51-38 over the Class 4A Black Raiders at the VHS gym Tuesday.

 Coach Nick Mayer said afterward that playing all four quarters of basketball paid off, just as it had in the Tanagers' other win at Tri-Valley last month.  Vermillion is now 2-4 heading into a girls-boys doubleheader home game against Parkston tonight (Friday).  Then will come a trio of tough road games at Madison Tuesday and later at Lennox and Elk Point-Jefferson.

 Trailing 4-0 after the first three minutes, the Tanagers started feeding Kelly Amundson, and she responded with a pair of field goals that ignited the 9-0 run.  Six points by Morgan Erickson added fuel.  A three-pointer from Lexi Regnerus and another Amundson field goal made it a 16-10 first-quarter lead for the home club.

 A steal and subsequent layup by Erickson and another Regnerus trey propelled the Tanagers to a 23-13 lead, which East trimmed to 23-16 at halftime.

 But right out of the locker room, the Tanagers got an Erickson field goal, an Amundson basket and two more Erickson free throws to go up by 16.  For the rest of the game the lead switched between 13 and 15 points.

 At one point in the fourth quarter, there was a sense that the Raiders were about to start a run.  They had a chance to cut their deficit to nine, but they turned the ball over, and Regnerus answered with a three-point dagger that stifled the threat.

 The Tanagers, though they committed 22 turnovers in the game, a problem with which they still have to deal, there was a stretch in the fourth quarter when in the past they might have folded to opponent pressure.  But on this night they killed the clock for a continuous one minute and 20 seconds without error.  By the time the next whistle sounded, the clock was down to 1:58 in the game, and the Tanagers were home free.

 An East three-pointer cut the lead to nine in the final minute, but the Tanagers got four points in the fading seconds from Claire Jones to increase their final advantage to 13.

 �I was very proud of the way the girls handled pressure toward the end,� Mayer said in his radio interview after the game.

The Tanagers outrebounded the Black Raiders by an unofficial count of 31 to 17, led by Amundson�s nine and Erickson�s eight.  Another strong point in Vermillion's favor was that scoring came from various sources.  Three women in double figures was a very pleasant surprise � Amundson had 14, Regnerus 13 and Erickson 11 along with eight points from Jones and five from Blair Gilkyson.

East had only one girl in double digits � Brittney Mozer, a senior guard, had 15, but no one else had more than six.

Another startling statistic that helped Vermillion�s cause was that Mayer�s girls did not only avoid foolish fouling but they almost avoided fouling at all.  Vermillion was called for only one foul in the entire second half.  Whereas East thus never had free-throw opportunities, the Tanagers made the most of theirs, sinking 12 of 17, including nine of 13 in the fourth period.

Vermillion�s JV girls won an improbable victory prior to the varsity contest, stunning East 38-32.  Early in the third period the Tanagers were trailing by 10 points, 28-18, but the rest of the way they outscored the Raiders 20-4.

A steal by Elly Miller led to a Bailey Carlson basket that gave VHS its first lead at 33-32 with 50 seconds left.  Lizzy Bye's two free throws with 30 seconds to go made it 35-32.  Sami Girard's interception and subsequent free throw added another point, then Mackenzie Huber added a pair of insurance free tosses at the end for a final comfortable six-point margin.

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