SIOUX FALLS — Leah Herbster scored on a layup with 38 seconds left and the Vermillion defense held off a final attempt by Hill City as the Tanagers beat the Rangers 44-43 in the Pentagon Girls’ Basketball Classic, Friday, Dec. 31, in Sioux Falls.

Kasey Hanson finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, and Brooke Jensen scored 11 points for Vermillion. Herbster finished 4-of-5 from the field to score 10 points in the victory.

Whitney Edwards led Hill City with 12 points and eight rebounds. Lillie Ross scored 11 points. Maggie Taylor added 10 rebounds and five assists.

The teams knew their matchup less than 48 hours in advance. Vermillion had been scheduled to play Red Cloud in the event, but Red Cloud had to pull out of the event. After more teams pulled out, the Tanagers were matched with the Rangers.

“It was nice just to get a game in. When Red Cloud had to pull out, we didn’t think we’d have a game,” said Vermillion head coach Jon Brooks. “We found out about Hill City a day ago. It was good, because our girls were getting tired of practicing against each other. It was good to get up and down the court.”

Friday’s weather caused another schedule change, as White River was unable to travel to Sioux Falls to play Dakota Valley. That game was cancelled.

Hill City was able to find gaps in the Vermillion defense early, with Ross taking advantage. She scored all nine of the Rangers’ points in the opening period as Hill City led 9-5 after one period.

“They’re a big team and we knew that coming in,” Brooks said. “We like to get up and pressure on defense, but we had to adjust that due to their size.”

Vermillion pushed back to a 16-16 tie in the second quarter, but the Rangers outscored the Tanagers 8-2 to end the half. Edwards had six points in the quarter, including four in the late run.

“Our traps weren’t good enough inside,” Brooks said. “Edwards was getting through. We had to close her off, and we did a better job of that in the second half.”

Vermillion fought back to its first lead since the opening basket, 29-28, but the Rangers got loose for three fast break layups late in the third quarter to push to a 39-32 lead.

An Edwards free throw early in the fourth quarter gave the Rangers their largest lead, 40-32, before the Tanagers began their rally. The Vermillion defense held Hill City without a field goal in the final 6:42, and Vermillion was able to take the lead on Herbster’s basket late in the period. Hill City had two shots in the closing seconds, but a blocked shot and a defensive rebound helped the Tanagers secure victory.

The victory was the third straight for a Tanager (4-1) squad that boasts just one senior. Vermillion’s lone loss is to a 10-0 Ponca, Nebraska, team that played for the Class C2 state title a season ago.

“We’re a young team. We play a lot of freshmen and sophomores,” Brooks said. “As we continue to play, our big focus is to get more consistent.”

Vermillion hosts Tea Area on Tuesday. Hill City, 2-3, travels to Class A Spearfish on Jan. 6 before returning East River to face Elkton-Lake Benton on Jan. 8 in Madison.

Follow @JCimburek on Twitter.

HILL CITY (2-3)

Lillie Ross 5-11 1-1 11, Abby Siemonsma 2-9 1-2 6, Maggie Taylor 3-5 0-0 6, Whitney Edwards 5-10 2-4 12, Anna Dean 0-1 0-0 0, Alaina Dean 3-4 0-0 7, Natalie Hanka 0-0 0-0 0, Cassidy Moody 0-1 1-2 1. TOTALS: 18-41 5-9 43.

VERMILLION (4-1)

Kasey Hanson 5-12 0-1 11, Livi Regnerus 0-2 0-0 0, Leah Herbster 4-5 0-1 10, Chandler Cleveland 1-8 0-0 2, Brooke Jensne 4-10 2-4 11, Kensie Mulheron 1-3 0-0 2, Brooklyn Voss 2-4 0-0 5, Jenaya Cleveland 1-3 1-4 3. TOTALS: 18-47 3-10 44.

HILL CITY 9 15 15 4 — 43

VERMILLION 5 13 14 12 — 44

Three-Pointers: V 5-13 (Herbster 2-3, Hanson 1-3, Jensen 1-4, Voss 1-2, C. Cleveland 0-1), HC 2-10 (Siemonsma 1-5, Al. Dean 1-2, Ross 0-3). Rebounds: HC 30 (Taylor 10), V 27 (Hanson 8). Personal Fouls: HC 15, V 11. Fouled Out: Taylor. Assists: HC 13 (Taylor 5), V 10 (Hanson 3). Turnovers: HC 15, V 11. Blocked Shots: HC 4 (Taylor 2), V 11. Steals: HC 5, V 4 (C. Cleveland 2).

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