Despite a commendable comeback in the second half, Vermillion lost its boys basketball regular-season finale to Canton, 59-46, at the VHS gym last Friday night.
As the Tanagers pondered a 7-13 record afterward, it wasn�t the second half that cost them. It was the second quarter.
When Tyler Husby canned a three-pointer seconds into that fateful second period, the Tanagers led 14-11, and things were clicking. But 17 straight points later, Canton was running away, 28-14. Vermillion didn't score again in that quarter, going 7 1/2 minutes without a point, until Nile Morecraft scored nine seconds before halftime.
The deficit mounted to 33-16, the biggest of the evening, early in the third quarter before Austin Krier put the Tanagers on his back and carried them back into the game. He started with a pair of treys. Caleb Miller rattled in a jumper from 10 feet away. Krier had seven more points in that quarter while Tanner Settles and Anthony Leber each scored a basket as well.
Krier�s 13 points in that period alone and his teammates' contributions had the Tanagers to within five, 40-35, before Canton answered with a 7-0 run that restored a lead of 12 points.
The Tanagers had one more rally in their fast-emptying gas tank. Four points from Leber and two each by Krier, Husby and Morecraft kept them alive, down only 49-45 with 4:41 to play.
�Sometimes when you are down so far, it takes so much energy to get back into the game,� Coach Jay Drake said later, �that it takes almost a perfect game on offense and defense to stay in the game from then on.�
Once they got to within four, the Tanagers could only come up short, failing to take advantage of two offensive fouls called on Canton and another C-Hawk turnover. Finally a breakaway layup and a wide-open "bunny" put the game out of reach. The C-Hawks also went six-for-six in late free throws. A free throw with 43 seconds left proved to be Vermillion�s only point of the final 4 1/2 minutes after the Tanagers had closed the gap to four.
Krier finished with 17 points, Leber eight, Husby six, Morecraft six, Settles four, Tanner Anderson three and Miller two.
The two clubs had the same number of field goals, 19, but Canton made 13 free throws in 16 tries to the Tanagers� three out of six.
A key statistic came on Vermillion�s offensive boards where the Tanagers were outrebounded 20-10. At the other end VHS had 12 defensive rebounds to Canton's six off its own board. Morecraft and Krier had five rebounds apiece, Settles and Leber four each, Husby three and Miller one.
Vermillion learned later that night that Dakota Valley had clinched the top seed in District 8A and that the Tanagers would open district play on the Panthers� home court last night (Thursday). The winner of that game will clash with the survivor between Beresford and Elk Point-Jefferson for the district championship Saturday.