Two games early next week – one at Madison on Monday and the other at home Tuesday against Tri-Valley – will send Vermillion's girls basketball team into a 10-day Christmas break.
Coach Nick Mayer's third season at the Tanager helm began successfully when his girls combined 33 rebounds, 11 steals and double-digit offensive production from Val Robinson and Kelly Amundson for a 42-38 win over Harrisburg.
The Tanagers' biggest lead came at 37-31 with 3:14 remaining when Beth Szymonski, who had just made a pair of key defensive stops at the other end of the floor, scored. Seconds later she grabbed a key rebound that enabled Vermillion to kill substantial clock time on its ensuing possession.
In the final 64 seconds Harrisburg fouled constantly, and the Tanagers were able to make enough free throws, including their final five points, to keep their lead. Robinson twice made one of two foul shots as did Amundson, then Lexi Regnerus sank a pair for a seven-point lead. A meaningless three-pointer at the final horn brought Harrisburg back to within four.
The Tanagers trailed at halftime, 19-18, but when Robinson sank a three-pointer early in the third quarter, Vermillion had a lead it would never relinquish. Robinson scored the team's first nine points of a 15-point third quarter en route to her game-high 18 points. Amundson finished with 14. Szymonski had six and Regnerus and Bailey Carlson two each. Morgan Beaner led Harrisburg with 10.
"It was a complete team effort," Mayer said later. "We stressed defense and rebounding in practice." And those were keys to the win.
His team shot 31 percent from the field, making 16 of 51. "We just have to keep shooting," Mayer said. "The shots will drop eventually."
The fact that his club was able to win a tight one was pleasing to Mayer. "We are a different team than we were last year," he said, "and the girls are believing they can win close games."