VERSAILLES – The Versailles Tigers opened the 2016 part of their schedule with a decisive 70-46 victory over the Fort Loramie Redskins Tuesday evening in a non-conference contest.
Versailles unofficially shot 25 of 46 on the game for 53.4 percent, just below their season average of 54.8 percent and the 70 points, to add to their Midwest Athletic Conference-leading 67.1 points per game average.
Sophomore Justin Ahrens of the Tigers led all scorers with 30 points. He not only scored the ball but also worked to get teammates involved in the offense.
“We had a couple nice possessions where they really showed their unselfishness, where they really shared the ball with each other, and that’s a good thing to see,” Versailles boys basketball coach Scott McEldowney said. “I am sure in the future we’re going to see some different things and set ups to try to take Justin out of it a bit more, and we’ve got to make them pay, and we’ve got plenty of kids that can do that.”
The Tigers also received help from the bench as the reserves scored 19 points, led by senior Jared Niekamp’s 13.
“His (Jared Niekamp’s) strength and athleticism gives us a boost off the bench,” Coach McEldowney said. “Our physicality isn’t as good as some teams. Jared provides that and plays extremely hard and does a great job of playing within himself, not doing, don’t trying to do things you’re not successful at, and at that point be aggressive and do the things that you are successful at and know the difference, make for pretty good offense.”
Versailles opened the game with a very balanced scoring attack for the first quarter. Six Tigers would score in the period. Combine that with some tight defensive pressure and good rebounding and Versailles had a 16-8 lead after eight minutes.
Versailles continued to clamp down hard on the Redskins defensively, allowing them only four points in the first five minutes of the second quarter, but the Tigers could only muster six more points themselves, giving them a 22-12 lead with 3:02 until the half.
Versailles then went on a quick-strike 13-3 run highlighted by three Justin Ahrens triples to push the Tiger advantage to 35-15 at the intermission.
Versailles added 20 points in the third quarter. All but two were scored by Justin Ahrens and Jared Niekamp. One of the few bright spots occurred for Fort Loramie in the fourth period when the Redskins outscored the Tigers 17-15.
Coach McEldowney told his players to “enjoy every win. I’m proud of you guys but never be satisfied. Half-court defense still needs to get better. Half-court offense still needs to get better. We’ve won a lot of games by being able to get up and down. Someone along the way will be able to slow you down, and we’ll need to shore those things up.”
The victory moves the Tigers up to 9-2 on the season and 3-0 in the MAC. Fort Loramie falls to 5-7 and 2-4 in the Shelby County Athletic League.
Versailles returns to MAC action Friday night as the Tigers host St. Henry.
Fort Loramie won the junior varsity game 35-31.
Fort Loramie – 46
Wehrman 10, Berning 6, Rosengarten 2, Braun 11, B Pleiman 2, N Pleiman 5, Gasson 4, Siegel 6.
Versailles – 70
Knapke 7, J Niekamp 13, K McEldowney 6, Wendel 5, J Ahrens 30, B McEldowney 3, Custenborder 2, AJ Ahrens 2, Jones 2.
3-pointers: FtL: 5 (Braun 3, Berning 2); Vers: 7 (J Ahrens 5, Knapke, Wendel)
Free Throws: FtL: 5-6; Vers: 13-14.