VERSAILLES – Greenville finished strong Saturday night, but Versailles’ early dominance propelled the Tigers to a 71-51 win in both team’s regular season finale.
Versailles led throughout Saturday’s game as the Tigers began the night on an 11-0 run over the first six minutes of game action. Justin Ahrens started the scoring with a 3-pointer, Keaton McEldowney made a pair of shots, and then Justin Ahrens added two more baskets – including his first of three dunks on the night – to increase the Tiger advantage to 11-0.
Will Coomer got Greenville on the scoreboard in the final minutes of the opening quarter then Noah Vanhorn joined the scoring with two baskets.
Versailles led 19-6 at the end of the quarter, which was capped off by a buzzer-beating shot from near midcourt by the Tigers’ Carter May.
Versailles continued to pull away in the second quarter, scoring the first 10 points of the period to increase its lead to 29-6. Greenville did score the final 4 points of the first half but found itself trailing 29-10 at halftime.
“We played them even in the second half,” Greenville boys basketball coach Kyle Joseph said. “We got the same looks in the first half that we did in the second. We just couldn’t get a bucket, couldn’t buy one early in the game. And too many turnovers that just led to transition stuff. But as far as just guarding them in the half court, we did a good job and competed all the way to the end just like we have all year.”
Versailles’ dominance continued in the early stages of the third quarter. The Tigers scored 10 of the first 12 points of the period to increase their advantage to 39-12 before Greenville started to make a comeback.
Down by 27 points, Greenville scored 14 of the next 16 points to reduce its deficit to 41-26.
“Just couldn’t quite put them away,” Versailles coach Travis Swank said. “Greenville kids played really hard here tonight. We kind of relaxed a little bit.”
Versailles did manage to get back on track and led 52-33 at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was evenly contested with Versailles outscoring Greenville by a single point to win 71-51.
Justin Ahrens led Versailles with his game-high 26 points on Saturday. Also for the Tigers, McEldowney scored 17 points, AJ Ahrens scored 10, May scored 7, Noah Richard scored 5, Kyle Jones scored 4, and Michael Stammen scored 2.
Coomer led Greenville with 14 points. Also for the Green Wave, Marcus Wood scored 12 points, Vanhorn scored 11, Noah Walker scored 11, and Kyle Mills scored 3.
Greenville finished the regular season with a 1-21 record, but Joseph said the Wave showed Saturday and several other times throughout the season that they’re capable of playing with anyone. They’ll need a strong performance when they take on Trotwood-Madison in the opening round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Springfield.
“We’ve proved time and time again this year against some really good competition that we play in the (Greater Western Ohio Conference) that we can hang with anyone,” Joseph said. “It’s just a matter of avoiding that one stretch that kind of kills you, which kind of got us again here tonight.”
Versailles finished the season 18-4 with Saturday’s win. The Tigers hope to have a long run in the OHSAA tournament, beginning with a game against Houston at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Northmont.
“I think this team has a shot, but it’s easier said than done,” Swank said. “You’ve got to make sure you’re working at it to go far in the tournament.”
Versailles’ five seniors – AJ Ahrens, Justin Ahrens, Kyle Jones, Keaton McEldowney and Noah Richard – in particular are focused on a long tournament run as any game could be their last in the single-elimination tournament.
“For those five seniors, besides (future Ohio State Buckeye) Justin, it’s going to be their last basketball game ever,” Swank said. “So we’ve got a lot riding on things. I think we’ve got the leadership in place to help us get over the hump and lead us as far as we can get. I’m excited about the challenge.”
The five Versailles seniors were honored prior to Saturday’s game as it was the final home game of their high school basketball careers.
“All five of them have contributed in different ways, but all five of them make us a good team and have come out with a lot of wins in their career,” Swank said.