VERSAILLES – The Versailles Tigers took a step up in competition Thursday evening as they hosted Dunbar, five-time state champion and member of the Dayton City League.
The Wolverines, a Division II opponent, got fabulous long range shooting performances by Stormi Cook and Devon Baker to overcome the Tigers 79-70.
Baker led all scorers with 33 and Cook added 20. This duo combined for 12-of-18 shooting from behind the arc, thus allowing Dunbar to play with the lead for the majority of the game. As a team the Wolverines netted as many 3-point baskets as twos.
“They were just tremendous from three tonight,” Versailles boys basketball coach Travis Swank said. “Hats off to them. They did everything right, and our kids did everything right … They just hit everything from the outside.”
The first quarter opened with the teams exchanging goals. Then suddenly, with Dunbar trailing 11-9, the Wolverines went on a 21-3 spurt that turned the deficit into a 30-14 advantage. During this nearly 3:30 run the Wolverines’ last five scores were triples. The Tigers were able to put two press-induced baskets on the scoreboard to trail 30-18 after eight minutes.
Versailles kept pace with Dunbar on the scoreboard in the second period. The lead would fluctuate between 10-15 points. It just seemed every time the Tigers started to get close the Wolverines would strike with another 3-pointer. At the break Dunbar led 52-38.
“We tried to play their style a little bit too much, and that’s my fault,” Coach Swank said. “We should have run more sets … We stayed with them, but you can’t trade baskets with them. You’ve got to have stops, and we didn’t quite execute on defense in the first half, but we should have.”
The defensive effort of the Tigers in the second half was “tremendous,” Swank said, and his players “played their tails off” by allowing only 27 Dunbar points in the final 16 minutes.
Offensively, Versailles could not break away from the Wolverines and start a scoring binge of its own. It seemed every time the Tigers would cut the lead to 10 or less Dunbar would from behind the arc yet again to stretch the lead back out. After three periods Dunbar led 70-58.
An early Wolverine field goal lengthened the lead to 72-58, and thanks to great defensive effort by both teams no more points were scored until Versailles added a basket to its total with 3:35 remaining.
After another Dunbar hoop made the margin 14 at 74-60, the Tigers made their final push. A 10-1 run in a late two-minute surge brought the score to 75-70 with the Tigers in possession of the ball and 28.1 seconds left.
The Versailles last second attempts would not fall, and Dunbar added four free throws in the final 15 seconds to arrive at the final score of 79-70.
“The kids had confidence all week that this would be a game we could show people what we’re all about this year,” Swank said. “I think to prove that we can play with heavyweights in the Dayton and Cincinnati area.”
Justin Ahrens paced the Tigers with 26 points while AJ Ahrens had 13 and Alex Wendel had 10.
Versailles now moves ahead with a 6-1 record and Dunbar will move on with a mark of 4-1.