Tanager girls fall short of clinching comeback win

Overcoming a forgettable 16-1 first quarter deficit was not too big a hill for the Vermillion girls to climb at Lennox last Thursday.  However, clinching an amazing victory once they had caught up was something they couldn�t quite pull off.

Kelly Amundson�s field goal with 2:35 remaining tied the game at 28-28, but the Tanagers couldn't score again.  A put-back by Kayla Kruse with 15 seconds left provided Lennox with its winning points, 30-28.

Facing a team of comparable size is something that doesn�t happen very often to the Tanagers, yet in the first quarter it didn't matter.  A leaky defense at one end and the fact that no kind of shot � not even a point-blank lay-up � would drop at the offensive end put Vermillion in that 16-1 hole.

But the Orioles would score only 14 points through the remaining three quarters as the Tanagers slowly pecked away. 

�The kids showed a lot of heart,� Coach Nick Mayer said of his team�s comeback.  �We just have to learn to play four quarters, not two.�

All six of the Lennox points in the second period came on rebound shots by Kruse.  Down 22-6, Vermillion got within 22-10 at the half after Lizzie Bye scored and Val Robinson converted a steal into two points.

Lennox continued to do little offensively in the third period, but its defense kept the Tanagers in check.  Two Amundson baskets, a bank shot by Claire Jones and a late basket by Morgan Erickson off a feed from Amundson left VHS down by 26-18 after three quarters.

�We were a completely different team in the second half,� Mayer said.  A minute into the final stanza Lexi Regnerus sank a three-pointer.  Erickson�s steal led to a Robinson basket.  Then Robinson scored again, and somehow the Tanagers were within 26-25.  Erickson stole the ball yet again, but a traveling call ended that possession.

Another put-back by Kruse set the stage for Amundson�s game-tying trifecta.

Once they had completed their comeback, the Tanagers had their opportunities.  Regnerus stole the ball, but a charging call ended that chance.

An offensive foul on Lennox gave VHS possession after a timeout with 54 seconds left, but the in-bounded ball went to a Tanager who was standing on the out-of-bounds line.  Lennox then held the ball till Kruse got her winning put-back at 0:15.

A three-point attempt by the Tanagers missed in the final seconds, and they came home a basket short of a miracle win.

Kruse led Lennox in scoring with all 10 of her points coming on those crucial rebound baskets. 

Regnerus led VHS with eight points, followed by Amundson with seven, Robinson six, Erickson three, and Bye and Jones two apiece.

The loss at Lennox left the Tanagers at 2-6.  They face the Orioles again at home tonight (Friday).  On Saturday they play St. Francis Indian School from West River at 1 p.m. in the Dakota Valley Classic at North Sioux City. A busy week of five games within eight days continues Tuesday with a rescheduled game at Madison, followed by home games next Thursday and Friday against West Central and Canton, respectively.

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