SPRINGFIELD – Versailles, who is well-known for its aggressive and relentless man-to-man defense, switched to a zone to begin the second quarter of Saturday’s Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III district championship game in Springfield and overwhelmed the young and talented Lady Spartans from Waynesville 56-32.
The Lady Tigers opened with a lead in the first quarter, but Waynesville freshman Rachel Murray, the Southwestern Buckeye League’s leading scorer at 18.1 points per game, scored three baskets on drives through the lane to help the Lady Spartans trail only 9-8 with nearly two minutes remaining in the period. Lauren Monnin then closed the quarter for Versailles with four of her game-high 15 points to give the Lady Tigers a 13-8 lead.
“She set the tone for us to compete at her level,” Versailles girls basketball coach Jacki Stonebraker said of Murray, “knew at any time she could take over that game, kept telling that to the girls.”
At the beginning of the second period Versailles made the switch. The Tigers changed from man-to-man defense to a zone, and it changed the entire course of the game.
The Lady Tigers broke out on a 13-2 run that gave them a 26-10 advantage and would escalate to 30-12 at the half. Danielle Winner and Camille Watren led the scoring push.
“They stood around a little bit more,” Stonebraker said of the switch to zone. “They couldn’t drive the lane like the first quarter. We took away 21 (Murray) handling the ball to the rim … They didn’t have a lot of backup for that.”
Versailles sent a very emphatic message to start the second half that this game was completely in its control as the Tigers opened by scoring the first 11 points of the third period to extend the lead to 41-12. A game in which they once led 9-8 they now led by 29. The Lady Tigers closed out the third quarter leading 47-18.
Once again inside and outside scoring would benefit each other. Guards Kami McEldowney and Watren combined for 20 points while Winner and Monnin contributed on the interior with 26.
“Our pressure, our continuous running up the court does wear the other team down,” Stonebraker said. “You can see it in the second quarter when we just keep going and the other team starts to slow down a bit. Third quarter was a big punch as well … We played a pretty complete game.”
Versailles, now 20-6, will play West Liberty-Salem in the regional semifinals at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Springfield High School.
Versailles – 56
McEldowney 9, Watren 11, Langston 2, Schmitmeyer 2, Shimp 4, Winner 11, Monnin 15, Marshal 2.
Waynesville – 32
Rains 9, Sizer 5, Purkey 6, Rentz 2, Murray 8, Hartshorn 2.
3-pointers: V: 3(McEldowney, Watren 2); W: 1(Rains).
Free throws: V: 11-13: W: 9-10.