By Parker Knox
Even though each of the four teams in boys basketball District 8A has a game yet to play before the regular season ends, there is nothing to be gained and nothing to be lost for anyone, at least so far as district pairings are concerned.
Dakota Valley High School has earned the right to host opening night of the tournament next Thursday, Feb. 28, by achieving the best record in the regular season. The Panthers stand at 14-5 with a game yet to play tonight against Lennox.
Vermillion has clinched the No. 2 seed with an 11-8 mark heading into tonight’s regular-season finale at home against Canton. The Tanagers will open next Thursday’s District 8A semifinal round against third-seed Elk Point-Jefferson, 7-12 going into its game against West Central tonight.
Dakota Valley’s opening opponent will be fourth-seed Beresford. The Watchdogs are 5-14 pending a game this weekend against Tea Area.
Next Thursday’s winners will play for the district title two nights later on March 2 at the home court of the higher remaining seed.
The Tanagers hope to regain a bit of momentum for district play with a victory tonight against Canton in the final home game for the team’s seniors. Canton has a 12-7 record that includes wins over Harrisburg, Lennox, West Central, EP-J, Flandreau Indians and Tri-Valley twice, among others and a split with Dell Rapids. Most of the C-Hawk defeats have come at the hands of the area’s best squads, including Madison, Sioux Falls Christian, Tea Area and Dakota Valley twice.
Canton stands as the No. 2 seed in its District 7A behind Tea Area and ahead of Harrisburg and Lennox.
Vermillion split a pair of games last week, dominating Wagner, 48-34, but losing to Madison, 69-44.
The loss to the Bulldogs left the Tanagers at 5-3 in the final season of Big 8 Conference play, two of the losses coming at the hands of unbeaten conference champ Madison and the other to Harrisburg.
Jayce Huska led the Tanagers with 12 points against Madison, which led at halftime 42-29.
Against Wagner the Tanagers went on a 17-0 run in the second period to open up the contest. That streak concluded with a pretty feed from Carter Andre to Anthony Leber for a score and then two baskets by Andre himself.
Both teams struggled offensively in the third period as the Tanagers held serve by outpointing the Red Raiders 8-5. The Tanager defense held Wagner scoreless from the field in that period until the last minute of the quarter. From a 41-21 lead at that point, it was smooth sailing the rest of the way for VHS.
J.T. Sorensen’s 14-point, 10-rebound performance led Vermillion to its win. Tanner Anderson contributed eight points, 10 rebounds and two assists. Andre finished with eight points as well. Tanner Settles had five points with four assists, Nick Jensen four points with seven boards, Austin Krier four points, Leber four and Ethan James one.