VANDALIA – The Versailles Tigers dropped out of OHSAA DIII Sectional tournament play with a 58-55 loss to the Springfield Shawnee Braves.
“There are not a lot of 12-15 teams that get to this point in the year,” said Swank. “This game kind of encapsulates what our team is about – a lot of heart, a lot of desire, not giving up.”
“That is a great message for our kids, our community, even other people that follow the game,” Swank continued. “Our kids just never gave up and continued to fight to get better.”
In his fifth season at the helm of the Versailles Tigers, Coach Travis Swank has taken his teams to the district championship game – a school record five consecutive years while winning three district titles.
“Some people decide to take off or not work to get better and that’s not what we are about,” stated Swank. “That is a great message for not only basketball programs but for people in general to hear. You have to keep on fighting, keep on digging to get yourself to where you want to be and we got ourselves pretty far here in tournaments. It’s not where we want to be but I am proud of the effort that we put into this.”
Shawnee jumped out to an early 10-4 first quarter lead with 5:00 showing on the clock and closed out first quarter play leading the Tigers 15-10.
Versailles battled back to take Period No. 2 by a 10-9 score sending the teams to the break with the Tigers trailing 24-20 but not before Versailles would make it a 1 point 19-18 game at 3:30 in the quarter.
Shawnee bumped its lead back up to 39-31 after three periods of play taking the quarter by a 15-11 score sending the teams to the final period of play.
The Braves took a 13 point 44-31 lead in the opening minute of the fourth quarter in what looked like the Springfield squad would easily put the Tigers away but Versailles refused to fold battling back to close within a single point; 56-55 with 0:16 remaining on the game clock.
Shawnee survived the Tigers scare closing out with a basket to earn 3 point victory win and advance to the OHSAA Division III the Elite Eight.
Five Versailles seniors played their final basketball game for the Tigers: Jared DeMange, Wesley Bruns, Troy Jones, Caleb Heitkamp and Jacob Litten.
“There were a lot of guys that didn’t get a lot of time but were great teammates along the way – and that doesn’t always happen,” said Swank. “There are a lot of teams if that happens the locker room is divided or it’s just not fun to be at practice. That never happened once and when you’re losing on top of it like we were at the beginning of the year, that can really happen quickly and it never did, so that is a testament to our seniors.”
“We try to be hard-nosed tough kids and that is what we are,” concluded Coach Swank. “Hopefully one day that toughness and hard nose is going to propel us to get out of this regional semi-final round and advance us to a regional final game. Hopefully after that point and time we can stamp our ticket to a final four but we have to go back to work. People that work hard and are tough minded – they just don’t sit here and sulk in the misery of this loss here tonight. They go out and go to work the next day.”
VERSAILLES – Jaydon Litten 14, N, McEldowney 13, C. Stonebraker 10, T. Jones 9, E. McEldowney 7, J. DeMange 2 – TOTALS 18 13-17 2 55
SPRINGFIELD SHAWNEE – Z. Crowe 18, P. Fultz 13, J. Miller 11, RJ Griffin 10. Drew 6 TOTALS 16 14-28 4 58
Versailles 2 (T. Jones 1, Jaydon Litten 1)
Springfield Shawnee 4 (J. Miller 2, P. Fultz 1, RJ Griffin 1)
SCORE by QUARTERS:
10-10-11-24 55 Versailles
15-09-15-19 58 Springfield Shawnee