As the 2021-22 South Dakota high school basketball season comes to a close, the Vermillion boys and girls basketball teams will now gear up for a run at the state tournament.
The Tanager girls concluded their regular season last Friday, defeating Parker 56-25 to finish the season with a 15-5 record. Their 15-5 record is highlighted by wins over 16-4 Sisseton and 15-5 Parkston. In Region 4A play, the Tanagers went 5-2 with their two losses being to the top seed in the region, Dakota Valley and the third seed Tea Area.
The Tanagers are a young team, with freshmen Kasey Hanson and Brooke Jensen leading the charge. They are the lone freshmen on the varsity roster. The team has one senior, Kensie Mulheron, and three juniors, including starting center Leah Herbster. The other two juniors on the squad are Livi Regnerus and Claire Doty. Rounding out the roster are seven sophomores.
Vermillion finished the regular season second in Region 4A, behind Dakota Valley and ahead of Tea Area despite the loss to the Titans earlier this season.
The state tournament began on Tuesday for Vermillion, as the Tanagers hosted Beresford. With a win, they would host the winner of Tea Area and Elk Point-Jefferson for a spot in the SoDak 16. Two teams from each region qualify for the SoDak 16, where the teams from the class are reseeded 1-16 and match-ups are played on a neutral court.
As it stands now, Vermillion is the 14th ranked team in Class A. The winners of the eight Class A SoDak 16 games advance to the state tournament, held in Brookings March 10-12.
As for the Tanager boys, their regular season concluded with a 98-28 win over Flandreau Indian Monday night. After an undefeated regular season run during the 2020-21 season, the Tanager boys finished 14-6 this season.
Vermillion beat one team with a winning record this season, a 68-49 win over Parkston Jan. 7. In Region 4A, Vermillion took losses to the top three teams, Dakota Valley (19-0), Tea Area (13-6) and Lennox (15-4). The Tanagers are seeded fourth with wins over the bottom four teams in the region, Elk Point-Jefferson, Canton, Beresford and Parker.
Vermillion starts five seniors, Charlie Ward, Jake Jensen, Carter Mart, TJ Tracy and Nick Sorensen. Sophomore Zoah Robinson and junior Ty Hertz provide minutes off the bench.
South Dakota Class A and B boys basketball concludes their regular season this week, so the region brackets haven’t been finalized as of Tuesday. As it stands now, Vermillion would host Elk Point-Jefferson in the first round of region play next week. Vermillion is currently seeded in fourth place, but movement above or below them could change how the bracket shakes out.
Overall in Class A, the Tanagers are ranked 21st, but could climb or fall depending on how the final week of play goes for teams around the state. The Class A boys tournament is hosted in Rapid City March 17-19.
Ultimately, with both teams getting into postseason action, the Vermillion boys and girls basketball teams will have to win their next three games to make it to the state tournament and win their three games at state to become state champions.