Versailles boys basketball opens season with win over New Bremen


By Drew Terhall

VERSAILLES — It the team’s season opener, the Versailles boys basketball team defeated New Bremen, 48-36, in front of their home crowd on Dec. 15.

As expected with the late start, Versailles didn’t play their cleanest game. But, head coach Travis Swank said the team’s toughness on defense helped them get the win. Swank and his assistant coaches have challenged this team all summer and all offseason to be tough on defense.

“Everything wasn’t pretty. You kind of expect that with getting guys late into the basketball season and only having not even 10 days of practice yet under our belts. We’re still going to be a work in progress, but what we liked here tonight was our toughness on the defensive end,” Swank said.

Versailles led 18-15 at halftime. The Tigers had the right idea on offense hitting guys for the right shot, they just couldn’t execute from there or couldn’t hold onto the pass.

Swank said sophomore Ethan Wilker and senior Carson Heitkcamp carried the offense in the first half. Wilker had six points and Heitkcamp had eight points.

The defense held strong throughout the game. The Tigers weren’t out of position often and rebounded well. Swank said they like to track rebounding stats, like offensive rebounds and offensive rebounds given up, to somewhat measure their toughness.

With not being a taller team, Swank wants to see all five players on the court help out in rebounding.

“We’re not overly big. So we got to have a five-man gang mentallity going to get rebounds. Playing in the league that we do, if you’re not willing to go rebound the ball you’re going to get beat most nights,” Swank said.

The offense started to click in the third quarter. Thanks to their defense, Versailles was able to run out in transition more and started to get some easy buckets.

Swank said his returning starters, senior A.J. Griesdorn, junior Jace Watren and sophomore Drake Ahrens all stepped up in the second half as well to get the offense going.

After the third quarter, the Tigers had a 39-27 lead.

The game started to turn a bit in the fourth quarter. New Bremen started to force turnovers and cut the lead down to 39-33 with 5:26 left in the game.

Versailles was able to shake off the bad stretch and got back to moving the ball well and capitalizing on New Bremen’s mistakes.

Swank said they did some good things in the game, but just need more time together to cut down on those mistakes.

“I liked how hard we played on both ends. Did we make mistakes offensively, did we miss bunnies, yes we did all those things. But hopefully those things come and go as we keep on gelling as a team, as we keep on getting some more practices under our belt,” Swank said.

Free throw shooting wasn’t effective for both teams. Versailles was 5 for 10 from the line while New Bremen was 3 for 10 from the line. Swank said being in game situations shooting free throws is different than just trying to practice them, but they will continue to work on it in practice. It is also one of those things that can get better as the team plays more games.

Versailles was able to grind out a victory to start the season and also in their home opener. Swank said he wanted the team to come out and be the kind of team the community can be proud of. A team with a blue collar mentality, a tough team.

He felt the team won in a way the community can appreciate.

“It wasn’t pretty here tonight. We had a lot of turnovers, we had a lot of missed layups. But, I thought the grittiness of our team is kind of the stuff that our community will like and hopefully they keep on coming out and supporting us,” Swank said.

Griesdorn led the team with 13 points, 11 came in the second half. Ahrens had 10 points while Wilker and Heitkcamp finished with eight points.

The team will turn around for a game at Greeneview on Dec. 16 next. The game is slated for a 7:30 p.m. tip off.

Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]

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