SPRINGFIELD – Versailles faced its toughest test of the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament thus far on Wednesday but again rose to the occasion, defeating Badin 50-36 to advance to the elite eight.
With the win the Tigers moved within one win of reaching the state final four.
“I don’t have words for this,” Versailles girls basketball coach Jacki Stonebraker said. “I walked into the locker room; I had 15, 16 girls with a big smile on their face, and I just got chills up my spine, up my arms, everywhere. And I’m like this is what every girl dreams to be, to have a chance to play for the state tournament.”
Versailles got off to a great start with all five of its starters – Kami McEldowney, Ellen Peters, Danielle Winner, Elizabeth Ording and Camille Watren – scoring in the first 3:30 of the game to give the Tigers a 9-2 lead.
Badin wouldn’t go away easily, though, and played even with Versailles the rest of the opening quarter to make the score 16-9 through the first eight minutes.
The Rams chipped away at the Tiger lead in the second quarter and late in the period had their deficit down to just 2 points at 22-20.
“I was stomping my foot over there a couple times,” Stonebraker said, “I caught myself doing that.”
Versailles was able to maintain its lead, however, and with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Watren went into halftime up 28-22.
Badin kept the game close in the early portion of the second half before Versailles started to take control. Over the final five minutes of the third quarter Versailles outscored Badin 8-1 to go into the fourth quarter up by double-digits, 39-29.
Stonebraker credited her team’s zone defense with stifling Badin’s offense.
“I don’t like to go to zone, especially when they have good shooters on the outside, but I felt like we needed to change things up with their post players because they were scoring well on us inside,” she said. “All their shots were in the paint. So we decided to go to the 3-2 zone that we play.”
Versailles led by at least 10 points throughout the entire fourth quarter and at one point increased its advantage to 18 on its way to a 50-36 victory.
“I just felt like as the game wore on we still had energy,” Stonebraker said. “We still had a lot of enthusiasm.”
Danielle Winner led Versailles with a game-high 13 points on Wednesday. Also for the Tigers, McEldowney scored 11 points, Watren scored 10, Ording scored 8, Lindsey Winner scored 6, and Peters scored 2.
Shelby Nusbaum led Badin with 11 points. Also for the Rams, Emma Broermann scored 10 points, Olivia Keene scored 8, Macy Harper scored 3, Lauren Krause scored 2, and Claire McCurley scored 2.
Versailles now advances to play Summit Country Day, who is ranked No. 1 in the state by the Associated Press, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Springfield High School in the regional final. The winner will advance to next week’s state final four in Columbus.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.