By Drew Terhall
VERSAILLES — The Versailles girls basketball teams are MAC champions. With their 58-41 win over New Knoxville on Feb. 8, they secured at least a share of their fifth MAC championship in program history.
Head coach Tracy White said everyone from the players to the coaches have sacrificed a lot of time and put in a lot of effort to getting better and helping this team achieve this goal.
“The girls are deserving, every single one of them. They come in, they put in the work. They’re striving to get better and it definitely shows if you look at our season overall and look at the growth we made,” White said.
The Lady Tigers pounced on the Lady Rangers early. They led 22-9 after the first quarter. The offense was clicking right away and the defense played better as the quarter went on.
White said the team pushed the tempo early and got into their comfort zone on offense. That helped them get out to a fast start.
Then Versailles started to get into a lull in the second quarter. They still had stretches of domination on both ends of the floor.
However, there were times the offense couldn’t get shots to fall or the defense allowed some open looks. Versailles still did enough to maintain their double-digit lead and led 37-21 at halftime.
White said the team didn’t execute some of the small details enough to grow their lead. They did enough to keep it but couldn’t put away New Knoxville early.
“We sort of relaxed. That’s what we talked about, having to play four quarters. When we get up like that, putting the gas pedal on versus relaxing and thinking that we can go through the motions. We fell into that a little bit,” White said.
Even after New Knoxville threatened to make it a single-digit deficit, Versailles held firm and didn’t let that happen.
The Lady Tigers had the advantage on the boards. White said everyone crashed the offensive glass and saw the effort to at least get a hand on the loose ball.
White also saw her team seek out contact on their box outs instead of letting the player come to them. It seemed like everyone was on a mission to grab the rebound.
In the second half, Versailles grew their lead a little bit and held strong to secure their share of the MAC title.
Sophomore Katey Litten led with 11 points. Juniors Sarah Stammen and Taylor Wagner both had 10 points.
Versailles will end the regular season with a home game against West Liberty-Salem on Feb.10 at 1:30 p.m. West Liberty-Salem is the fourth seed in Division III in the OHSAA Girls Basketball Southwest Sectional while Versailles is the fifth seed.
White said it will be a great game to play to get the team ready for tournament play. She is happy with where they ended up on the bracket, but knows the team has to continue to grow to make a deep run.
“We kind of had an idea of where people were going. I feel like we have the best draw for us to be successful and get a long run,” White said. “But, we still have to come ready to go. We have to grow everyday to get to where we want to be.”
Versailles will start tournament play on Feb. 17 at Covington going up against the 17th seed Preble Shawnee at 2 p.m.
Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]