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B WINTER 2017 SPORTS From Newcomer To Leader Vermillon’s AJ Plitzuweit, 23, goes up for a jump shot during a game last season. Plitzuweit is returning for the Tanagers for his final season at Vermillon as the top scorer and most experienced varsity player. Plitzuweit Takes Bigger Role With Tanagers the season as the leader in points (495), points per game (23.36), free throws (110), free throw percentage (.873), field goals, (155), threeAJ Plitzuweit has only been at Vermillion High School for one full sea- pointers (75) and steals (44). He was also a first-team All-State selection in son, but is going to be heavily leaned Class A. on this year by his teammates as the This year he’ll take on a different backbone of the team. If there is only one returning start- role as the team’s point guard. “(I) will have the ball in his hands er to this year’s lineup, head coach most of the time, calling the plays, Jay Drake can be happy he’s the one. “(He’s) a God send from a coaching so it will be a step up since last year I played more of the two. This year I stand point,” Drake said. “To have a kid like him come in and there was no will be more of a leader and step up,” Plitzuweit said. doubt that he was one of the better He played at point guard for his players in Class A last year as a first previous school, but last year Vermilteam All-Stater and one of the better lion already had that position filled players in the state of South Dakota.” Plitzuweit led the Tanagers across with Cooper Williams, but with Williams graduating that has opened it up the stats board all season. He ended BY ELYSE BRIGHTMAN Elyse.brightman@plaintalk.net for Plitzuweit. By not bringing the ball down the court, Plitzuweit was freed up to make shots. “We were able to have him play off the ball,” Drake said. “When he was in Kentucky at the school he started at he was at the point guard position, but he can score, too, and having Cooper last year to control the point position being able to free AJ up some. We are going to have the ball and he’s going to have to bring it up more.” He’ll be leading a team of mostly unexperienced varsity players that has few players who earned a handful of minutes last year. Vermillion will also be playing without fellow returning starter Rylan Pratt, who is sidelined due to injury sustained during the offseason. “(I want to) set an example and show them the speed and what they have to do to catch up on,” Plitzuweit said. Now in his second season at Vermillion, Plitzuweit is expecting to deal with players double and possibly triple teaming his, but Drake thinks his high basketball IQ will allow him to work through the challenges. “What we are hoping is, and he does do this, he should be able to make the game a little easier for his teammates, too,” Drake said. “He’ll draw help and know what pass to make, so he’ll make the right pass, he makes good decisions. Hopefully, makes open shots.” A.J. | PAGE 2B
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