DARKE COUNTY – Two Versailles basketball players who earned statewide accolades are The Daily Advocate’s winter sports athletes of the year.
The Daily Advocate’s winter sports athletes of the year are Versailles boys basketball player Justin Ahrens and Versailles girls basketball player Kami McEldowney.
Ahrens led all Darke County basketball players with 25.3 points per game. He also was near the top of the county with 8.1 rebounds per game and 3.8 assists per game.
“Justin had another great season,” Versailles boys basketball coach Travis Swank said. “He led our team in the three major categories (points per game, rebounds per game and assists per game). His offensive skills are by far one of the best that I’ve seen in a long time.”
Ahrens was named the MAC boys basketball player of the year, the District 9 Division III boys basketball player of the year by the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association and the Division III boys basketball player of the year by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association. He also earned votes for Ohio’s Mr. Basketball award, which is given to the best high school basketball player in the state.
“Justin earned being named the D-III player of the year in Ohio,” Swank said. “I have seen him put in countless extra hours into developing his skills. I think that’s what has separated him from other players. He is willing to put in the extra work to get himself to be a Division I caliber recruit, and many people don’t realize how hard that is to do.”
Ahrens will continue his basketball career in college on a scholarship at The Ohio State University.
“I think Justin’s versatility is what has drawn interest from all of these colleges,” Swank said. “I think he’d be the first to tell you that he still needs to improve on his game, but he does a lot of things well. He can shoot and get to the rim, he can rebound, and he can help bring up the ball if needed.
“Again I think what makes Justin such a strong player is that he is not satisfied,” Swank said. “He wants to continue to get better and wants to get stronger. It is real easy for most to become complacent, but Justin wants to outwork the next guy in front of him. With that type of attitude that will take you a long way.”
A four-year starter at point guard, McEldowney led Versailles to the Ohio High School Athletic Association state finals three times. In her high school career the Tigers won a Division III state championship and earned state runner-up finishes the past two seasons.
“Kami is an excellent student-athlete who performs at a high level on the court and in the classroom,” Versailles girls basketball coach Jacki Stonebraker said.
McEldowney led the Midwest Athletic Conference champion Lady Tigers with 13.3 points per game and 4.2 assists per game. She also set multiple school records.
“She has led our team in many of the stat categories during her four years of varsity basketball and has a few records to her name,” Stonebraker said. “She has the most 3-pointers in a game with seven and the most 3-pointers made in a season with 69.”
The Versailles senior was named the MAC player of the year by the conference, was named the District 9 Division III girls basketball player of the year by the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association and was named second team all-Ohio by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association.
“Kami has the grit and determination to be the best player she can be,” Stonebraker said. “She is a great leader for us and will be missed tremendously.”