The Vermillion boys’ and girls’ basketball teams hosted a doubleheader against Dakota Valley this past Tuesday. The girls won a thriller in double overtime, 75-70, and the boys lost a tough battle, 56-72.
The Dakota Valley girls were 6-9 entering the night, but records do not matter in rivalry matchups.
The game started off slow as both teams put on full-court pressure, but Vermillion showed they could handle the press as they took control. The Tanagers earned their largest lead by 12 points with over two minutes left in the first quarter. Dakota Valley woke up to bring it within five by the end of the first quarter, ending 14-9.
The momentum began to shift in the second quarter with the help of the opposing and rowdy crowd. Dakota Valley was in the bonus with six minutes left in the half but put Vermillion in the bonus one minute later.
The Tanagers entered the halftime down one, 26-27.
In the third quarter, Vermillion missed buckets, and calls fell in Dakota Valley’s favor. The rivals increased their lead to nine, their largest of the night. This was one chance for the home girls had to hang their heads, but there was one more quarter to go. Vermillion headed into the fourth quarter down 35-40.
The fouls continued along with the levels of excitement. Vermillion entered the bonus with over six minutes left in the game, and Dakota Valley was as well not long after. With under a minute to go, Vermillion down by two, sophomore Lexi Plitzuweit drove baseline and was put on the line. She sank both free throws to tie the game.
Each team had one more opportunity to win the game but instead, was sent into overtime at 51-51.
Dakota Valley took control as they sank shots and drew fouls. Vermillion kept their persistence, especially in the final seconds of the first overtime. Many would have thought the game was over as Vermillion was forced to foul, but with seconds left, down three, Plitzuweit banked a three from the parking lot to send the game into its second overtime.
“When I let it go, I thought it might bounce in,” said Plitzuweit about her deep buzzer beater. “When it went in, I was pretty excited, but we still had another overtime to go.”
The ball was in Vermillion’s court from there on out. The Tanagers hit two trifectas at the start, took a charge, and had the crowd on their feet. They outscored the rivals by five to claim an exhilarating, late-night win, 75-70.
There were 54 fouls called, 68 free throws shot, and a total of five players fouled out throughout the game. The score was tied 14 times with 12 lead changes. One school record was broken as well.
Plitzuweit scored the game-high 44 points. This beats the previous school record of 35 points scored in a single game. Her name will hang across from her brother’s, AJ Plitzuweit, who has the boys’ record of 52 points scored in one game from his senior year last season.
Lexi Plitzuweit had no idea she had broken the record leaving the locker room after the game.
“I just played the game, and I tried to win,” said Plitzuweit. “It’s good to have it, but it’s all about the team and winning.”
Plitzuweit also had seven rebounds and four steals. She went 14-for-20 from the field and 13-for-15 from the charity stripe. Senior Kasey Herbster had 14 points, seven rebounds, two blocks, and two steals. Junior Lexi Saunders had 10 points, five steals, and played just over 39 minutes of the 40-minute game.
For Dakota Valley, freshman Rylee Rosenquist had 18 points and three assists. Junior Rachel Wente had 11 points and three steals. Senior Tegan Hennies and freshman Brooke Carlson had 10 points each.
This win showed how the Tanagers play as a team.
“It shows that we just don’t give up and we keep going,” said Plitzuweit. “We play through adversity.”
The boys’ game was next as the third- and fourth-ranked teams in the region went head-to-head. Vermillion battled to top their opponents ranked just above them but fell short in a 56-72 loss.
Vermillion started behind and had to fight back to make it a six-point game by the end of the first quarter. The lead remained the same for Dakota Valley throughout the fast-paced second quarter. The Tanagers were down 33-39.
Dakota Valley came ready for the second half and continued to build on their lead through the remainder of the game. They outscored Vermillion by six in the third and another four in the fourth. The Tanagers move to 9-6 on the season with the 56-72 loss.
This game was a good learning experience for the Tanagers. Junior Max Mayer said the team scored well but need to work on their defense, offensive rebounding, and being tougher.
Mayer had the team-high 15 points and three rebounds. Sophomore Connor Saunders had 11 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Junior Sam Ward also had 11 points for Vermillion, two assists, and two steals.
For Dakota Valley, sophomore Paul Bruns had 22 points and eight rebounds. Senior Charlie Cox had 17 points and nine rebounds. Senior Parker Moss had 10 points.
Moving on to their next game, LeMars, a nonconference matchup, will be another tough fight. “They’re a really good team, they’ve won eight of their last 10,” said Mayer, who is excited to continue, “competing like always, like every night.”
Both teams will hit the road to play LeMars, Iowa, this Friday. The girls will play at 6:30 p.m. and the boys at 8. The boys will play again on Monday at Madison, and another doubleheader will be at home next Tuesday against Wagner.