(Photo by David Lias)
Vermillion's boys basketball team, which entered this week's play with a 7-1 record, will be playing in the company of some of the state's best teams Saturday.
Taking part in this year's Hanson Classic at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, the Tanagers will take on Sioux Valley at 1 p.m. That is the third of eight games to be played there that day, running from 10 a.m. well into the evening.
Sioux Valley's Cossacks, based at Volga, had a 7-4 record through last weekend. Their defeats have been at the hands of such teams as Clark-Willow Lake, currently ranked No. 1 in Class "A" in the state, and perennial state tournament qualifiers St. Thomas More and Elkton-Lake Benton, all by a margin of eight or fewer points. Sioux Valley has also split with McCook Central-Montrose while defeating Howard twice, Baltic, Parker, Garretson and Hamlin. They were to play Chester Area last night (Thursday).
Next week the Tanager boys will be at home Tuesday for a girls-boys Big 8 Conference doubleheader against West Central. Then they go back on the road for a date at Dell Rapids Thursday.
Vermillion stretched its current win streak to four with home wins last week against Bon Homme and Lennox – one a dominating performance, the other a come-from-behind nail-biter.
Everything worked right for the Tanagers against Bon Homme as they roared to a 25-8 first-quarter lead and a 44-23 halftime advantage. By game's end it was 90-63, and no wonder! The Tanagers connected on 40 of 55 field-goal attempts, making 36 of 48 from two-point range and four of seven from three-point distance.
J.T. Sorensen scored 20 points, going 10 of 11 from the field to tie a school record. Nick Jensen scored 18, Carter Andre 14, Austin Krier 12, Tanner Settles 10, Jayce Huska nine, Ethan James three, Tanner Anderson two and Paul Schwasinger two for VHS. As one might imagine, the Tanagers' individual assist totals skyrocketed in this contest – Settles led the way with eight, Krier seven and Huska seven.
Sorensen had four steals, Krier three and Settles three. As the Tanagers outrebounded the Cavaliers 25-15, Sorensen and Huska had five boards each and Jensen and Anderson four apiece.
In the second meeting of the season against Lennox, the current Tanagers accomplished something no VHS team had done for a quarter-century – sweeping home-and-away games from Lennox in the same season. But it was a struggle.
"We knew it would be tough," Coach Jay Drake said later, "because the first game with Lennox was close till the end. As a coaching staff we were proud of our guys. They didn't panic after the early hole they got into and were back in the game by halftime."
A fired-up Oriole squad hit four three-pointers en route to a 19-8 first-quarter lead as the Tanagers were late in getting their games faces on. However, a 16-7 second-quarter edge lifted the Tanagers. A four-point play by Andre just prior to halftime left Vermillion within two at the break.
Sorensen had 10 of his 15 points in the third quarter, a period which saw the score tied six times but the Tanagers leading only once – at 28-26.
Austin Krier's basket to start the fourth quarter gave VHS its second lead of the game at 40-38. Lennox went back in front briefly at 42-40, and after Anderson sank a crucial three-pointer, Lennox went up one more time at 44-43. Krier's basket gave the Tanagers the lead for good, Jensen added two field goals to make it 49-44. After the Orioles crept back to within three with a basket in the final minute, Krier, fouled in the back court with 21 seconds left, swished two free throws for a 51-46 lead. A Lennox bucket at the buzzer was of no consequence in a 51-48 Tanager triumph.
"Our big guys led us in scoring and rebounding in a very physical game," Drake said."
Sorensen with 15 and Jensen with 11 led the offensive output. Krier contributed nine, Anderson seven, Andre four, Settles three and Huska two. A 31-25 rebounding edge was led by 13 boards from Sorensen, eight from Jensen and four from Anderson.
Krier had four assists and Anderson three, and Anderson also recorded three steals.