Ironmen’s late rally falls short
It would have been a comeback for the record books.Trailing by 30 points with nine minutes left, the Vermilion Ironmen nearly pulled off the impossible in Wednesday night’s Northern Division community college basketball game at International Falls.Vermilion closed the gap to six points with a minute left and had a chance to pull even closer, but Rainy River held on in the waning seconds for a 100-93 win.The Ironmen scored 40 points in the last 9:02 and had chances in the final minute to complete what would have been the greatest rally in program history.“It was close to being one of the craziest finishes you’ll ever see, had it not been for a turnover on our side and a three-pointer with the shot clock winding down by one of their non-shooters,” said Vermilion Head Coach Paul McDonald. The loss cost Vermilion a chance to take sole possession of first place in the division standings and created a logjam at the top.Heading into the homestretch of a 12-game division schedule, the Ironmen (see box) were part of a three-way tie at the top, joining Rainy River and Northland at 5-2, with Mesabi and Central Lakes both trailing by a game.Rainy River sizzled from the outside for much of Wednesday’s battle while the Ironmen were on fire at the end.The Voyageurs shot 61 percent from the floor, had 51 points by halftime and 81 through 30 minutes of play.Maurice Lloyd led the winners with 27 points while teammates Brandon Bradford and Marcus Moore combined for 41 points and eight three-pointers. Rainy River connected 11 times from three-point range.Sophomore Aaron Overby helped fuel the Vermilion rally, leading all scorers with 27 points and dishing out seven assists.Inside, VCC’s Jameel Koonce had his seemingly automatic double-double, with 18 points and 18 rebounds.Zach Smith added 16 points, Anthony Anderson contributed 13 points and seven assists and Gavin Erickson wound up with 11 points.The matchup came on the heels of a dramatic win over Central Lakes.Overby’s three-point play with seven seconds left lifted the Ironmen to an 82-80 victory Jan. 30 before a large home crowd.The teams went back and forth in a seesaw second half, and the Raiders grabbed an 80-79 lead in the final minute.Vermilion was patient on its final possession and Overby cut to the basket, got the bucket and drew a foul. He finished with 21 points.Anderson was Vermilion’s top scorer, picking up 25 points in the win.Erickson added 13, followed by Koonce (12) and Smith (eight).The Ironmen, who led 38-32 at the half, had a difficult time containing Central Lakes’ Leonard Langdon, who finished with a game-high 26 points.Over the weekend, VCC went to Thief River Falls for a showdown with fellow league-leader Northland.The division race will probably be decided this week, as the Ironmen have home dates with Itasca (Thursday) and Mesabi (Saturday) following a Tuesday night road game with Hibbing.