Versailles boys basketball moves on to Regional Finals with big win over Mariemont


By Drew Terhall

KETTERING — The eleventh seed Versailles Tigers are heading to the OHSAA Division III Boys Basketball Regional Finals. They blew past three seed Cincinnati Mariemont, 68-43, on March 13 at Trent Arena at Kettering Fairmont.

Head coach Travis Swank said it feels good to get his first win at regionals in his fourth trip. But, it’s all about the team and how they have been playing during this tournament run.

“It’s a good feeling to finally get the monkey off my back a little bit. But, it’s not about me. It’s our kids, our kids are playing really well right now. When things like that come together, you get runs like this,” Swank said.

Both teams matched each others run early resulting in a 14-14 tie after the first quarter. Swank said they settled in from the jump offensively, but it took time for the defense to settle in. Once they switch to their zone defense that has been successful this postseason, they started to dominate the game.

Versailles led 28-19 at halftime. They were able to get the ball inside and get to the free throw line to gain a lead. Senior Carson Heitkamp had 12 points in the first half.

Then junior Jace Watren took over in the third quarter. He started the quarter scoring nine straight points. Swank said Watren’s quickness and willingness to go to the basket has helped him succeed this season.

“Jace was the quickest kid out there on the floor tonight. He got to the rim real easy,” Swank said. “I know early on in the year, he was trying to dial in his shot. But when we asked him to get to the basket a little bit more, good things have happened for him.”

Versailles slowly grew their lead in the third quarter. From the second quarter on, they were the more physical team. Swank said the team rebounded the ball well with Heitkamp leading the charge once again. Heitkamp has been active around the glass this postseason run and playing a tough brand of basketball.

Versailles led 49-29 heading into the fourth quarter. The Tigers never let up and kept a strong hold on the game. They shot 73.9% from the field in the second half.

Swank said in the postseason, getting easy shots is harder to get but not impossible to get. Lately, Versailles has executed their offense to where they have earned some easy buckets around the rim.

In their last nine games, Versailles is 8-1. Swank said the close losses to St. John’s and Coldwater showed them they can play with great teams. From that point, the intensity in practice picked up a little bit and they have been on a roll.

“Even though we lost, I think those are our turning points of our season. We started understanding we’re a pretty good team because these are quality teams and we’re right there. We just got to do stuff a little bit better,” Swank said.

Heitkamp led with 21 points and had 13 rebounds for a double-double. Senior AJ Griesdorn also had a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Watren finished with 19 points and sophomore Drake Ahrens had 11 points.

The Tigers will take on three seed Preble Shawnee with a Regional title and a trip to the State Final Four on the line. Swank said Preble Shawnee is a great team with great players that will frustrate teams with their defense. They don’t solely rely on WOAC Player of the Year senior Mason Shrout.

“They got guys that really get after you defensively. I think that’s what they hang their hat on more than anything else. We got to be ready to play because they’re going to come after us for 32 minutes. If we’re not ready, it’s going to be an ugly game for us,” Swank said.

The game will be on March 16 at 7 p.m. back at Trent Arena.

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

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