Ironmen ride solid “sophs”

by Tom Coombe
If the Vermilion Ironmen are going to make a run at division and regional championships the next several weeks, their sophomores will no doubt be leading the way.
Second-year players have accounted for nearly all of the scoring and most of the other key statistics this season and again last weekend at the Central Lakes Classic - the final warmups before the start of Northern Division play.
Sophomore Demetrice Mitchell had 28 points in a 90-79 victory over Ridgeater, while VCC’s “big three” of Mitchell and fellow sophomores Denaio Jackson and Bradlee Lewis combined for 57 points as the Ironmen fell 94-87 to Minnesota West in Saturday’s finale.
Vermilion took an 8-5 record into division action, which started Friday night against visiting Mesabi and continues today at Rainy River.
The Ironmen’s sophomore stars, along with fellow second-year standout Marquail Johnson, cut their teeth a year ago as VCC won the division title and reached the regional semifinals.
They’ve taken another step forward this winter, with Mitchell, Lewis and Jackson all at or near the top of several state statistical categories and Mitchell leading all scorers.
Mitchell, who hails from St. Paul, was 14-for-24 from the floor as the Ironmen made an early lead stand up against Ridgewater.
Lewis canned four triples and added 17 points in the win while Jackson added a double-double.
The former Tartan High School star had 15 points and 12 rebounds and added six assist and six steals.
Johnson had 16 points and 12 rebounds to get his first double-double of the year and VCC secured the win by forcing 21 turnovers.
The Ironmen overcame a 31-point afternoon by Ridgewater’s Daviante Ostrander.
Vermilion came up on the short end of a seesaw affair with Minnesota West, hitting only six-of-24 three-pointers in the game.
The Bluejays hit 44 percent of their shots and outrebounded VCC 43-32 as all five starters scored in double figures, paced by Kuoi Choi’s 23-point day.
Lewis scored a game-high 25 points and nailed six shots from beyond the arc, but he was the only Vermilion player to hit a three-pointer.
Jackson contributed 17 points and nine assists while Mitchell poured in 15 points with six rebounds. Johnson had a 14-point, six-rebound day.