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History Made! Lady Titans take 2nd at State A Tournament

The Lady Titans made history in their final season as a Class A program, reaching the State A Tournament for the first time.  The Tea Area High School girls’ basketball team made an impressive run, defeating undefeated Flandreau in the opening round and taking out Sioux Falls Christian in the semifinals to reach the State Championship game against DakXII rival, Vermillion. 

“Getting to the State Tournament cemented history for our girls’ basketball program and making it to the Saturday night game of the State Tournament with a chance to win it will always be great memories for our players, for me and the coaching staff, for the students, community members and all that were involved,” said Titan head coach Adam Schorzmann. “It was truly a great run for us and we beat some great teams to get there. This was a State Tournament where a number of different teams could have won it. I’m proud of the girls and this team for how they battled against the state’s best competition.”

In the Championship game on Saturday night, March 9, the Titans got going early, using an 8-2 run in the opening quarter to take the 22-15 lead over Vermillion. In the second quarter, Tea Area led by as many as 11 points but the Tanagers fought back, giving Tea Area a four point lead at halftime, 39-35. 

In the third, Tea Area went on a 9-0 run but Vermillion once again battled back and cut the lead to six, giving the Titans a 50-44 lead heading into the fourth. In the fourth, the Titans went cold, only scoring four points in the quarter. Some key three pointers from Vermillion put the Tanagers up 56-52 with just over a minute to play. Tea Area was unable to get back on top, falling 60-54 in the Championship game. 

“Looking at the Vermillion game, it was again, one of those teams that player to player we don’t necessarily match up well again defensively but I thought we had some matchup problems for them with our offense as well,” said Schorzmann. “We got out to a lead early in the first and took that momentum into half-time. We won a tough third quarter by one, which throughout the regular season was usually our worst quarter of play. Still having momentum in the fourth, I thought Vermillion did a great job of taking away our looks in the lane and our role players had great looks that didn’t go in from the perimeter that had gone in against Flandreau and SFC.”

Schorzmann went to a 2-3 zone for a couple of possessions and that’s when Vermillion’s Kasey Hanson hit a couple of threes in back to back possessions. 

“It was a hard fought and we definitely had our chances to win it,” added Schorzmann. 

In the Championship game, both Katie Vasecka and Mara Grant finished with 16 points apiece. Vasecka also pulled down nine rebounds and had four assists. Grant pulled down eight rebounds, had one assist and one steal. Ellie Clayberg and Jaycie Babb each finished with ten points in the game. Clayberg hit two three pointers in the game and had three rebounds. Babb also had one assist and one steal. Anna Binde finished with two points, one assist, and one steal. Haidyn West had four assists in the game and two rebounds. 

The Titans played to remarkable games to reach the Championship. 

In the semifinals, Tea Area encountered Sioux Falls Christian, the tournament’s second seed. Despite an initial setback that saw the Titans down 10-0, Tea Area stormed back and played a fantastic second half to hang on for the thrilling 48-44 victory on Friday night, March 8.  

“The Sioux Falls Christian matchup was a little bit different our goal was to go back to our man-to-man defense that we played so well all season long and we had the scouting report ready for that,” said Schorzmann. “Things ended up changing a little bit once SFC got out to a 10-0 start in the first 90 seconds. Once we were able to beat their press a few times we were able to find a groove on the offensive end. We went back to our 2-3 zone that we played against Flandreau the night before and the girls did a great job of taking them out of what they wanted to do offensively. I thought our guards did a great job against their press after they got up 10-0 and handled the pressure of the moment as well. “

After the chargers early attack, Tea Area settled in and pulled within three by halftime, trailing 23-20. In the third, the Titans made a huge gain going on a 8-0 run to begin the quarter. A West three pointer sent the Lady Titans into the fourth quarter with a 37-34 lead. 

Sioux Falls Christian tied the game twice in the fourth quarter, but never took back the lead. After a strong rebound from Grant and two key free throws by Vasecka, the Lady Titans defeated Sioux Falls Christian 48-44. 

Vasecka led the team with 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Grant, who faced foul trouble early, finished the game with 12 points, eight rebounds, two assists and one steal. West added nine points, sinking three three-pointers. She also had one rebound, one assist and two steals. Clayberg finished with seven points, five rebounds, one assist and one steal. Babb scored three points, grabbed one rebound, had three assists and two steals. Reese Hammerquist scored one point, had one assist and two steals. Miah Weber finished with one rebound and one steal in the game. 

In the opening round of the State Tournament on Thursday, March 7, the Titans took on an undefeated third-seeded Flandreau team. Tea Area took an early 9-5 lead after the opening quarter and held on for the 52-47 victory. Tea Area shot 48.7 percent from the field while holding Flandreau to 38.9 percent. 

“I thought getting matched up with Flandreau in the first round was a very tough draw. We don’t match up with them very well because they have such great length at every position. Our plan was to go 2-3 zone against them, something we only played a few possessions of all year long,” said Schrozmann. “We had a week to prepare for them and I thought our girls really bought into the game plan. I’m not sure how much zone Flandreau saw all year but I think we really took them out of their game plan and rattled them a little bit in their half court offense. Flandreau is such a great team and well coached and we couldn’t pull away but we kept the lead the entire game. Our goal was limit them inside and try our best make their best shooters take contested shots. It was enough for us to pull away at the end for a great victory, one of the best in program history.”

For the Titans, Clayberg led the way with 17 points in the game. She went two of three from downtown and collected one assist and three steals. Vaskeca finished the night with 14 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and three steals. West had nine points, two assists and three steals. Grant finished with six points, five rebounds, and one assist. Weber had four points, three rebounds, and two assists. Babb added two points in the win and Hammerquist and Binde each had a steal.  

For their strong performance at State, both Vaskeca and Grant were named to the State Tournament All Tournament team. 

Despite the heartbreak of defeat in the championship game, Tea Area’s historic run at State A Tournament is one for the record books. The Lady Titans finished the season with a 21-5 record. Next year they will move to Class AA. 


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