NEW MADISON – The Tri-Village Lady Patriots came into Tuesday’s game having just been voted the No. 1 Division IV team in the state as they hosted the reigning Division III state champions, the Versailles Lady Tigers.
TV led from the start, and by as many as 16 points, but Versailles made runs in the second and fourth quarters. Over the last two minutes the furious rally all but evaporated the Patriots’ lead, setting up an opportunity for the Tigers to steal one away.
The Tigers did just that when Kami McEldowney stole the ball and drove down the lane for the score with three seconds left. Ironically it was her first field goal in the game, too, as the Tigers stunned the home crowd with a 53-52 win over the Patriots.
Tri-Village opened the game like a well oiled machine on offense behind 11 first quarter points from Allie Downing and layups from Brooke Godown, Emma Printz and Shelbey Dowler, racing out to a 21-7 first quarter lead.
“I thought we executed extremely well in the first quarter,” Tri-Village girls basketball coach Brad Gray said. “We knew they were going to pressure us really hard on the wings, and we wanted to draw the defense out and get back door cuts, and it led to a strong first quarter.”
It would be a game of runs and in the second quarter it would be Versailles’ turn.
The Tigers ditched the man-to-man and went zone, slowing down Tri-Village and only giving up seven points in the period.
Versailles scored 14 points – five from both Camille Watren and Danielle Winner – and the Tigers narrowed the lead down to seven at the half, trailing 28-21.
“In the first quarter we got down big, 15 early, and I thought we did a good job of crawling out of that in the second quarter. We took them out of their routines on what they were doing offensively by going to a zone,” Versailles coach Jacki Stonebraker said.
“Give Jacki credit, they went to a zone to start the second quarter, and it really stifled us, and we struggled against the zone,” Gray said.
In the third quarter TV showed patience on offense and moved the ball better and got six points inside from Danika Mann and five points from Rachel Miller to push the lead out to 43-29.
“We dug ourselves into another rut in the third quarter … but I felt like if we just kept fighting. We have a lot big game experience and play a lot of tough games throughout the year, so I pressed them to keep fighting. I didn’t care how tired they were, and I told them you aren’t any more tired then they are, everybody has to be in,” Stonebraker said.
Versailles struggled to make outside shots, and the Patriots did a good job of taking away drives to the basket … but the one thing they couldn’t take away was the 6-foot 2-inch Winner, who scored six points in the paint and was just getting warmed up for the final stanza.
In the fourth quarter Winner scored nine points and led the Tigers on the night with 20.
“Danielle was doing a great job inside so let’s keep feeding her and keep her post to post,” Stonebraker said.
“I didn’t think we got her the ball enough, and finally we got did and we kept getting her the ball. She’s the one who kept us in the game,” Stonebraker said.
“We did a good job on Winner in the first half, surrounding her and limiting her touches,” Gray said.
“In the second half, especially in the fourth quarter, we let her get too many easy catches deep in the paint,” Gray added.
Tri-Village opened the final stanza with a short 15-foot jumper from Miller to push its lead to 16 points and moments later a layup from Downing made it 47-31.
But shots stopped falling, layups were missed, and the Tigers picked up the pressure.
“It all started with Kami McEldowney, who went around and was trapping everyone … she was upset that I was upset, and it all starts with our guards and the pressure they apply and being able to rotate and trap,” Stonebraker said.
“Kami Ording hit a big 3-point shot late in the fourth quarter,” Stonebraker said.
It would be the only points she would score, but it got the Tigers to within 52-49 with 47 seconds to play.
The Tigers got a couple of steals and converted a Watren layup with 27 seconds to draw within one 52-51.
The Patriots still had the lead but were fouled … up to that point Tri-Village had shot 12-for-14 from the line but missed the front end, setting up the last second heroics for McEldowney.
“After she struggled all night, it was good to see that she was able to hit the shot,” Stonebraker said on McEldowney’s game winner.
It was a tough pill for Gray to swallow.
“It’s tough,” the Tri-Village coach said. “I don’t know how else to explain it. You have to find a way to win the game. You have a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter, and you lose a game when you’re up by that much. That’s on me.”
“We’re a good basketball team. Anybody who was here and watched the game knew we were a good team … we outplayed them tonight. Yea, they got the ‘W,’ I’ll give them credit for that … but we had a meltdown at the end,” Gray added.
“I thought Allie had a great game. I really wish she would have wanted the ball at the end the game … I’m not sure why she was passing the ball. We knew they were coming to get us. She’s our leader and in big moments we want the ball in her hands and get to the free throw line. I’m sure she’s hurting because I got on her about that after the game,” Gray said.
“Danika Mann had an excellent game, and by the same token I know she’s beating herself up because she missed the free throw … but to me she played a whale of second half. She shouldn’t have even had to shoot that free throw if we would have taken care of business,” Gray said.
“Bottom line it’s a 32-minute game, not just 30,” Gray said.
“We will come back out and compete. We’ll rebound from this. Kids are resilient. They are going to handle it a lot better than I am … but they will come back out ready to compete to get better,” Gray concluded.
The Patriots were led by Downing’s 22 points and Mann’s 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Tri-Village fell to 18-2 overall and will play Franklin Monroe in its final Cross County Conference game of the year on Thursday and then host Fort Recovery on Saturday.
Versailles is proof that when things aren’t going well you continue to fight and grind because you never know when the tide will turn, and the Tigers did it with a whopping three seconds to spare.
“This game meant a lot to the Lady Tigers. It means we played for 32 minutes. We got to play 32 minutes every game we are in, and I think we showed that tonight out on the court,” Stonebraker said.
“It was a fun game to be a part of,” Stonebraker concluded.
Versailles’ lone scored in double figure was Winner with 20 to go along with her 12 rebounds.
Versailles improved to 15-6 overall and will close out its regular season at home against Delphos St. John’s on Thursday for senior night.
Score by quarters:
Tri-Village …21…07…15…09 – 52
Versailles …07…14…08…24 – 53
Tri-Village (18-2, 11-0)
Rachel Miller 7, Emma Printz 2, Allie Downing 22, Brooke Godown 2, Shelbey Dowler 2, Danika Mann 17
Totals 2-17-12/15 – 52
Versailles (15-6, 4-4)
Kami McEldowney 7, Camille Watren 7, Kristen Langston 3, Kami Ording 3, Logan Shimp 4, Danielle Winner 20, Lauren Monnin 6, Emily Marshal 3
Totals 3-15-14/19 – 52
Tri-Village – 2 (Downing 1, Miller 1)
Versailles – 3 (Watren 1, Langston 1, Ording 1)