Second-half collapse sinks Ironwomen

SOPHOMORE WYNTER GEORGE has logged plenty of minutes for VCC this winter, as the Ironwomen have battled injuries en route to a 1-7 start. Photo by Eric Sherman

by Tom Coombe -

The playoffs came nearly three months early to the gymnasium at Vermilion Community College.
In a basketball game that may as well have served as a state playoff preview, perennial contenders Rochester and Vermilion squared off in a Dec. 8 battle that came down to the final seconds.
The visiting Yellowjackets prevailed 92-89, handing the Ironmen their second defeat of the winter.
Vermilion, which rebounded the next afternoon and blew out Western Tech (Wisc.) 103-63, led at the half and had its opportunities down the stretch against the nationally-rated Yellowjackets (6-1).
Rochester, which got a game-high 33 points from Jumah’Ri Turner, did just enough for the win.
The Yellowjackets secured the victory at the free throw line, hitting 75 percent of its attempts.
Vermilion relied heavily on its starters, with sophomore forward Demetrice Mitchell of St. Paul logging yet another double-double. He finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds in 35 minutes of work.
Fellow sophomore Denario Jackson had a 21-point, 10-rebound night and dished out eight assists.
VCC’s two other sophomores - Bradlee Lewis (19 points) and Marquail Johnson (10) - also scored in double digits.
The Ironmen led 45-39 at halftime and the intensity inside the gym cranked up another notch or two in the second half.
Saturday’s matchup was a laugher by comparison, as VCC bolted out to a 20-point lead within the first seven minutes and gained a 57-25 edge by halftime.
The Ironmen made a whopping 15 three-point baskets, including eight by Lewis. The Minneapolis native finished with a game-high 29 points and 12 rebounds.
Mitchell poured in 18 of his 24 points in the opening stanza and added 12 rebounds,while Jackson and freshman guard Glenn Smith had 14 points each.
The Ironmen prepared this week for two tough weekend encounters at the Anoka-Ramsey Tournament.
Dakota County was the foe in Friday’s opening round, while VCC will tangle with the host Rams at 4 p.m. Saturday in the final game prior to a holiday break.