VERSAILLES – Three starters return this season for the Versailles girls basketball team, a program that has reached the regional finals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament the past three years.
Versailles has built one of the state’s top programs in Division III. The Lady Tigers finished as the state runner up in 2014, won a state championship in 2015 and made the elite eight of the tournament last year.
The Tigers lost five seniors to graduation from last year’s team, including leading scorer Lauren Monnin. However, seven returning lettermen give them a strong base to continue to build on.
Among the players returning for Versailles is junior guard Kami McEldowney, who earned first team all-Midwest Athletic Conference honors last year. She averaged 10.5 points per game and led the Tigers with 3.0 assists a game last year.
Camille Watren also returns to Versailles’ starting lineup as a guard. The senior was named honorable mention all-MAC last year as she averaged 4.6 points and 2.1 assists a game.
Versailles’ third returning starter is junior forward Danielle Winner, who was named second team all-MAC last season. The 6-foot 2-inch Winner averaged 10.7 points per game and a team-leading 6.8 rebounds per game last year.
Coach Jacki Stonebraker is unsure who will join McEldowney, Watren and Winner in the Tigers’ starting lineup, but she has several options.
Versailles has four guards returning to the team who earned varsity letters last year: senior Brynna Blakeley, senior Kami Ording, senior Clair Schmitmeyer and junior Ellen Peters. Senior guards Bailey Huffman and Emily Langenkamp also will be on the varsity roster.
Joining Winner at forward are a pair of newcomers to the varsity roster: 5-foot 10-inch junior Mallory Marshal and 5-foot 11-inch sophomore Elizabeth Ording.
Versailles hasn’t changed its philosophies much from previous years, Coach Stonebraker said, but will try to get more pressure defensively and will look to score more in transition on offense. On defense the Tigers will look to mix in both zone and man-to-man concepts.
“Defensively, we have a lot returning,” Stonebraker said. “We are quick up front in the guard position and big in the post. We hope to pressure the ball and defend the paint with our tall post players.”
While the Tigers have a lot of talent to build with they’re still working on team chemistry and offensive timing, Stonebraker said.