VHS Boys Basketball Goes 17-6 – Reaches Regional Finals for 1st Time Since 2007 by Dan Genzler Through an unrelenting commitment to hard work, the Vermillion Boys Basketball Team pieced together one of the best seasons in school history. The Tanagers, which dropped a 60-53 decision in the Region 4 final, finished 17-6 but left a mark as a squad that showcased extraordinary team unity and an always upbeat attitude. Veteran head coach Jay Drake said VHS, a senior-led team, had a lot of growing up to when practice opened in the fall. “We are proud of the way our team came together this past season. We only had three guys with varsity experience (Carter Andre, Jayce Huska and starter Nick Jensen) coming back from last year's team and we felt that our young kids, along with a couple new players in Cooper (Williams) and Tyrell (Harper), really grew as a team and formed a nice chemistry as the season went on.” VHS, which was looking for a trip to state for the first time since winning back-toback State A crowns in 1989, effectively and efficiently defeated opponents. The Tanagers’ senior-dominated lineup, supplemented with contributions from freshman, sophomores and juniors, opened 9-0, which was the best since the State A team in 1977 was 19-0. The squad closed 8-6, which included wins in the region over Elk Point-Jefferson, 57-41; and Beresford, 60-43, before the season-ending setback to Tea Area. The appearance in regionals was the first since 2007. As Drake noted, seniors played key roles, including 6-6 forward Tyrell Harper (12.8 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 3.0 apg, 2.1 spg), 6-6 center Nick Jensen (13.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg) 6-1 shooting guard Jayce Huska (11.0 ppg, 252 points, team-high 41 3’s). Harper, who transferred to VHS from Tampa, Fla., before the season started, accumulated 281 points, 213 rebounds and with his passing skills and defensive prowess turned into one of the better players in Class A. Jensen, was also one of the region’s best players, hitting 59 percent from the field on 116-of-19 shots. He also hit 75-of-108 from the free throw line. While the seniors stepped up to key roles so did a number of underclassmen, including heady freshman point guard Cooper Williams, who averaged 9.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg and 3.6 apg. Williams particularly shined at the charity stripe
where he made a team-high 134-of-155 free throws for 86 percent. Carter Andre (6.4 ppg, 140 points, 17’s), a 6-5 junior forward, 6-1 sophomore guard Jeremiah Johnson (3.2 ppg, 1.0 rpg), as well as 5-10 sophomore guard Paul Schwasinger (1.3 ppg) have had key roles in the Tanagers season. “We really felt we had a great group of kids in our program – ‘high character kids.’ Our athletes brought a great attitude and work ethic every day and we feel it is a huge reason why we had some success on the court this year,: said Drake, whose squad had 11 wins by double digits margins but was 3-5 in games decided by eight points or fewer. “We were a very balanced team and when we were at our best we had a number of kids pitching in and doing their part which in return made us tough to guard due to our balance,” added Drake, who was assisted by Jon Reuvers and Joey Olson as VHS recorded a third straight winning season. Clearly, team numbers showcase that balance. VHS had a 1,295-to-1,127 ppg scoring differential or 48.0-to-41.7 ppg margin. VHS, which won their only overtime game, was able to control all four quarters (311-to-266 points, 1st Q; 303-to-299, 2nd Q; 301-to-266, 3rd Q; and 364-to-288, 4th Q). In addition, they outshot opponents 42% (430-of-1020) to 41% (419-of-1015) from the field. They also maintained hefty margin at the free throw line (326-of-447-73% to 181-of-289-63%). This season VHS made 145 more free throws than opponents. In made 3’s, the Tanagers were slightly outpaced by opponents, 109-to-108. It was a team, noted Drake that always played with a team-first perspective. “Our guys really bought into what we were trying to accomplish as a team and put the team in front of themselves. We came up a little short of reaching our ultimate goal of making a state tournament, but it was not due to a lack of effort or attitude,” said Drake. “Our kids gave us everything they had from Dec. 2 until the season ended. We won two region games and had a great season,” said Drake, who noted the contributions of a fourth senior Wyatt Hansen. “We will miss all four of those guys and we appreciate
Three standout girls high school basketball players with connections to the area were recently selected to the Argus Leader First Five or Second Five girls basketball teams. Among those honored include senior guard Josie Huber of the Vermillion High School; Keely Bertram of Elk Point-Jefferson and Lynsey Prosser of Sturgis Brown. Huber and Prosser were named to the Second Five and Bertram was selected to the First Five.
A 5-8 senior guard, Huber will play collegiately at Dakota Wesleyan. This past season she averaged 18 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Huber, the daughter of USD women’s track and field head coach Lucky (Stacy) Huber, hit 44 percent from the field and 83 percent on free throws. Huber, who had 811 career points, made a team-high 49 3-point field goals, knocking down 3’s at a 38 percent rate. Among her stellar efforts were 32 points, eight rebounds and seven 3’s against West Central and a double double 14 points and 14 rebounds in the region semis against EPJ. “I think the most impressive thing about Josie this season is her vocal leadership and helping the younger girls on the team. “We relied a lot on Josie to bring her teammates along and get them ready for varsity basketball. It will be tough replacing Josie and what she has meant to the Tanager program.”
Josie Huber – VHS Huber, who led the Tanagers to an 11-11 record and into the semifinals of the Region 4 Tourney, provided key leadership for a young Vermillion team, according to Vermillion High School girls basketball head coach Jon Brooks. “Josie was blessed with talent but her work ethic was second to none,” said Brooks. “She was always the last one to leave the gym and rarely if ever was outworked in game or practice. A fierce competitor, she would do whatever it took to win,” said Brooks.
Keely Bertram – EPJ Bertram, a 5-9 senior forward, helped lead Elk Point-Jefferson back to the State A Tournament for the first time since 1999. Bertram, who will play collegiately at Black Hills State, was a standout all-around performer for Elk Point-Jefferson, which finished 21-4. Bertram did it all while leading the Huskies to the state Class A semifinals and a fourth place finish. She averaged 20.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.9 steals and shot 51 percent from the field, 42 percent on 3-pointers and 68 percent on free throws. A starter as a freshman, Bertram, who scored 51 points at the State A Tourney, finished her career with 1,558 points, which broke the EPJ school mark of 1,349 set by Chrissy Strassburg, who now plays at USF. She also finished second in rebounds with
Three Standout GBB Players With Local Ties Honored by State’s Largest Newspaper by Dan Genzler
Kyle McKelvey Men’s track and field McKelvey, a 6-2 junior thrower from Beresford, S.D., has been a key contributor for a South Dakota men’s track and field team that has won consecutive Summit League Indoor Track and Field Championships. Recently, McKelvey, a kinesiology exercise science major (business administration minor), broke a state record in winning the shot put (outdoor) with a mark of 59 feet, 5½ inches at the Wildcat Open. He broke his own mark of 59-4¼ that he set in winning the shot put at the Summit League Outdoor Track and Field Championships last May. McKelvey, who has twice competed at the NCAA DI West Preliminaries, owns three Summit League shot put titles and twice has finished second. McKelvey came to USD three years ago as a one of the state’s most decorated throwers. A three-time state champion, he set a state meet record of 67-10 in 2011 in winning the title. McKelvey, who had a prep best 69-3 (set state record), also placed second in the shot put at the Pan American Junior Athletic Championships in July 2011. At Beresford, he was a four-year starter in football, earning offensive MVP three times. He was also all conference in basketball twice. What do you want to do in the future? I want to work with athletes whether it be training, coaching, rehabbing, or own an athletic faculty. What do you do for fun? I love to go on vacation trips with my friends. If you could meet any person in history, who would it be? Johnnyy Cash. What is your favorite athletics memory at a Coyote? It has to be gue winning back-to-back Summit League 4). Indoor Championships (2013, 2014). What about your favorite athleticc ming moment in your life? It was becoming the USA Junior national champion in A the shot put and competing for USA Track and Field What do you like best about performing for the Coyotes? I like that family and friends are close enough to watch me compete.
everything they did for our basketball program and are proud of the young men they are. Our guys worked hard all season. I believe we competed at a high level all season and hung in there with some of the best teams in the state in our classification and in one of the state’s elite conferences (Dak-12, 8-3 record).” Looking ahead, the return of Williams and Andre as starters, along with solid reserves in Schwasinger and Johnson, bodes well for the Tanagers. “We will miss our four seniors, but we feel we will and can have a competitive nucleus coming back next season. We will have two starters back along with some kids (Jefferson Galvin, Jacob Manger, Matt Ouellette, Brandon Mockler, and Blake Gilkyson) that had a nice JV season. If we put in the time in the off-season and work hard at improving our skills, we can again be a competitive team in Region 4.”
528 and second in steals with 272. Bertram, who set the singlegame school record with 37 points vs. Harrisburg (Jan. 10, 2012) as a sophomore, recorded 33 20-point games, including six over 30 during her career. In five postseason games in 2013-14, she had 92 points and was named to the Class A All-Tourney squad. Lynsey Prosser – Sturgis Brown A standout guard for Sturgis Brown, Prosser has a definite connection to Vermillion. She is the niece of Sheila (Gary) Prosser of the Equalizer. Her grandparents include Jean Ann Prosser of Vermillion and the late Jim Prosser and Delores and Dwain Jorgensen. Her mother is the former Laura Jorgensen and her father David is one of three Prosser brothers (Gary and Mike). This season Prosser, a 5-7 senior, led Sturgis Brown to an 18-7 record and a fourth place finish at the AA Tourney. Prosser was named all-tourney after scoring 43 points with three double digit scoring games. Prosser, who is headed to play basketball at Augustana, was one of the state’s best 3-point shooters. Ranking 6th all-time in South Dakota 3-pointers, she had 208 in her career, including 75 this season. Against Huron this season, she knocked down eight 3’s and had seven vs. A champion St. Thomas More. Prosser, who had over 1,200 career points, averaged 16.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.1 apg and 1.6 spg in the 2013-14 season.