Vermillion won its second and third straight games of the girls basketball season, surprising South Sioux City, 57-52, and winning at Madison, 42-37, for a 3-0 record to begin the year.
Coach Nick Mayer's girls will return to action in a girls-boys doubleheader at home against Tea Area next Friday, Dec. 30.
Wins over South Sioux City's legendary girls basketball program come few and far between, but the Tanagers' gutsy fourth-quarter performance under pressure got them one this time in the home opener Dec. 15.
Vermillion secured a one-point lead late in the first quarter, but it was short-lived. The Cardinals took a 22-18 lead at the end of that period and increased that advantage to as many as eight points early in the third quarter and seven points late in the period. But from a 39-33 deficit in the first minute of the final quarter, the Tanagers saw Lexi Regnerus score seven straight points on a two-point basket, a three-pointer and two free throws. Kelly Amundson's field goal made it 42-39.
South Sioux City tied the game at 42-42, but another Regnerus basket gave Vermillion a lead it would never relinquish.
Fourth-quarter contributions to the VHS cause came from different sources. Josie Huber's basket with 3:53 left gave Vermillion a four-point lead. Strong drives to the hoop in succession by Amundson and Mackenzie Huber made it 50-43 with 2:27 left. After the Cards came back to within four, it was Blair Gilkyson's turn to score with a pair of free throws at the 1:28 mark.
Amundson snatched crucial defensive rebounds following missed Cardinal shots in the final minute. While a pair of three-point baskets kept South Sioux within reach, the Tanagers had their answers at the free-throw line. Gilkyson sank one of two with 1:08 remaining, Amundson sank a pair at 0:55, Gilkyson one more at 0:22 and Amundson one at 0:11.
Though South Sioux had 20 field goals – nine of them from three-point distance –compared to Vermillion's 16, the Tanagers' play enticed the Cardinals to foul and then made them pay for it at the stripe. VHS sank 22 of 32 free throws while the Cards made only five of nine attempts.
Amundson had a 15-point, 14-rebound performance. Beth Szymonksi had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Regnerus scored 13. Gilkyson and Josie Huber had five points each, Mackenzie Huber four, Val Robinson two and Bailey Carlson one. Morgan Hanson led South Sioux with 14 points.
On Monday night at Madison it was again a case of being able to reach the free-throw line. The Tanagers had 31 opportunities there and made 17 of them while Madison had only seven free throws, succeeding on five.
Amundson and Regnerus led the VHS scoring with 11 and 10 points, respectively.