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Ironmen pull out last-second victory

If the Vermilion Ironmen go on to have a banner season, they might point to their Dec. 11 game at Anoka-Ramsey as the contest that started it all.Severely shorthanded by injuries, the community college basketball team went to Anoka and pulled out a 56-55 win against one of the state’s top teams.Sophomore Gavin Erickson’s 15-foot jumper with three seconds left gave the Ironmen the win and a split on a tough road swing that started with a 71-55 loss at Minneapolis.But VCC still managed a solid weekend - and got a gutty win - despite the absence of top scorers Aaron Overby and Jameel Koonce and guard Wendell Hairston, all injured and on the bench.Erickson’s game-winning hoop and a huge performance by freshman guard Anthony Anderson, who had a game-high 34 points, eight assists and six steals - lifted Vermilion (3-4).“I was really impressed,” said Vermilion Head Coach Paul McDonald. “They were 7-3, and considering the people we had out that was one of the biggest wins we’ve ever had.”Neither team led by more than four points in the nip-and-tuck battle.Because of the injuries and a short bench, Vermilion slowed the tempo of the game.The Ironmen led 30-28 at halftime, but Anoka-Ramsey rallied and led for much of the second stanza.The hosts still led by one down the stretch.“Erickson ended up hitting a 15-footer off an out-of-bounds play with three seconds to go,” said McDonald. “And then they missed a desperation one at the end.”Erickson added 10 points and Zach Smith finished with 10 for VCC. Shea Amic (two points) was the only other Vermilion player to score.The Ironmen also tried to slow the pace against Minneapolis, but the Marauders wore them down.Minneapolis led 21-20 after the first 20 minutes, and extended the lead to nine with five minutes left.VCC wouldn’t get any closer.Anderson had another stellar all-around night with 24 points, 11 rebounds, six steals and five assists.Smith and Erickson contributed nine points apiece, and Nate Donald had five points and 10 rebounds.The Ironmen stayed close despite an off-night from the field. They shot just 27 percent.“We’re looking forward to our next matchup with them,” said McDonald.VCC was slated to get a rematch with the Marauders over the weekend, when it competed in the Minneapolis Tournament.

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