By Parker Knox
One game remains on the regular-season schedule of the Vermillion boys basketball team prior to district tournament play starting Feb. 28.
The Tanagers will be home next Friday, Feb. 22, against Canton.
VHS took a 10-7 record into this week’s home contests against Wagner and Madison. Last night’s Madison rematch was the Tanagers’ final Big 8 Conference matchup of the year. The Bulldogs already clinched the title and would finish at 8-0 if they handled VHS last night. Vermillion was 6-2 heading into the Madison game, Lennox finished 4-4, Harrisburg 3-5 and West Central 0-8.
An 80-75 overtime loss to Dakota Valley on Feb. 5 was a disappointing one for the Tanagers, who played so well in the first half. Four three-point field goals and a pair of buckets inside by Nick Jensen led VHS to an eight-point first-quarter lead, 25-17. The advantage reached as many as 12 points in the second period, and the game was still Vermillion’s at halftime, 41-34.
But from a 47-39 lead three minutes into the third quarter, the Tanagers saw Dakota Valley go on a 13-0 run that included three treys. That stretch would later prove to be a killer although the Tanagers rallied to make it interesting toward the end.
Down 64-57 midway through the fourth, Vermillion got a three-pointer from Tanner Anderson and five points on two buckets by Austin Krier. J.T. Sorensen and Krier had key buckets in the late going, matching Panther scores to send the game into overtime.
There the Panthers took immediate control, jumping up by six, then made six free throws without a miss in the final minute to offset Vermillion rally attempts.
Balanced scoring nevertheless marked the Tanagers’ losing effort. Krier had 18 points, Jensen 17, Anderson 13, Tanner Settles 10 and Sorensen 10 along with five from Jayce Huska and two from Anthony Leber, who played for the first time in more than a month after recuperating from an injury. Jensen had 10 rebounds and Sorensen seven, Settles five steals and four assists and Krier five assists.
Dakota Valley, which solidified its perch as the top seed in District 8A, had four men in double figures – Brody Van Ginkel 19, Blake Van Ginkel 18, Jason Lupkes 17 and Andrew Reiff 14.
Another great start and another mid-game dry spell on the Tanagers’ part featured a 49-44 loss at Harrisburg Friday. Five points from Jensen, two field goals by Settles, a three-pointer from Huska and a bucket by Sorensen propelled VHS to a 16-12 lead well into the second quarter. But the Tigers caught fire, going on a 12-0 run that extended into the second half. By the time the game reached the middle of the third period, VHS had been outscored 22-6 after its 16-12 lead and was in trouble.
Playing catch-up the rest of the way, the Tanagers were on the verge of a game-winning rally after Sorensen scored with 1:15 left in the game to close the deficit to 44-42. But three missed shots in the remaining 75 seconds, coupled with four-for-four free-throw shooting by Harrisburg left the Tigers with a 49-44 win.
Krier led VHS with 10 points, Jensen had nine, Settles seven, Sorensen seven, Huska five, Leber four and Anderson two. Sorensen and Jensen had eight boards apiece, Carter Andre five and Leber and Krier four each. Krier also had four assists.