No. 10 Vermillion boys’ basketball played No. 7 Dell Rapids in the SoDak 16 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls this past Tuesday with a ticket to the state tournament on the line.
The Tanagers were the first on the board with a three from junior Connor Saunders. The score was back and forth throughout the first, ending with Vermillion down 9-10.
In the second quarter, Dell Rapids gained momentum. The Tanagers hung in the game to end the half down 20-28. The Quarriers shot 45.8 percent from the field compared to Vermillion’s 25.9 percent.
The opponents built on their lead as the Tanagers were outscored by four in the third to enter the final quarter behind 28-40.
Vermillion battled back to bring the game within two in the final minutes of the fourth. The Tanagers outscored the Quarriers by five, but it was not enough to capture the win.
Vermillion lost 52-45 to the higher seed Dell Rapids. In the second half, the Tanagers shot 29.6 percent from the field as the Quarriers shot 37.5 percent.
Junior Noah Gilbertson recorded the game-high 14 points with seven rebounds, and one assist.
Junior Jakob Dobney had nine points, three rebounds, three assists, and one steal. He averaged 13.7 points per game and 4.3 rebounds throughout the season.
Junior Dillon Gestring tallied three points against a tough defense. He averaged the team-high 15.2 points per game and 5.2 rebounds this season.
For Dell Rapids, senior Drew Van Regenmorter had 13 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and one steal. Sophomore Landon Ruesink had 12 points, and junior Colin Rentz tallied 10.
The Tanagers lose two seniors, Sam Ward and Max Mayer. Ward scored five points against Dell Rapids. He started in 22 of Vermillion’s 23 games and averaged 6.4 points and 2.8 rebounds this season. Mayer played 12 games this season because of a knee injury and averaged 4.3 points.
“Sam, our captain, fouls out, Jakob Dobney finally turned in on late in the game, but he is in foul trouble, and he fouls out,” Tanagers head coach Jay Drake said. “Then Dillon Gestring, our leading scorer and rebounder, was in foul trouble. We had to adjust a little bit and yet at that point, kind of fly around and try to make things happen anyway.”
The opposite happened to Dell Rapids. The Quarriers had multiple players with two fouls in the opening quarter. At the half, three Quarriers had two fouls and two Tanagers were in the same situation.
“Sometimes you just have to see the basketball go through the net,” Drake said. “We got a couple big buckets there early in the fourth quarter, and were able to get the crowd going a little bit. For a while there we got nothing and that’s on us. We’re not giving them something to cheer about.”
“At the beginning of the night, if we have them at 52, then we have a chance,” Drake said. “If you said we were going to shoot 28%, we’re in trouble.”
The Tanagers fall one game short of the Class A Boys State tournament. Dell Rapids advances to the State Tournament in Rapid City March 19-21.
Bailey Zubke of the Yankton Press & Dakotan contributed to this story.