MINSTER – The Versailles Lady Tigers did not choose a good night to not bring their “A” game with them as they battled the Lady Wildcats of Minster for the Midwest Athletic Conference lead.
The once-beaten Lady Wildcats came into the contest No. 4 ranked in the latest state poll and were looking to retain their MAC championship from a year ago. Versailles did not score well from the inside, nor shoot free throws well. The Tigers trailed by as many as 19 points before a furious comeback fell short as they lost to Minster 59-51.
The Lady Tigers got off to a quick start as junior Kami McEldowney hit a triple from the left wing to open the scoring. Minster came right back with an answer and the score see-sawed throughout the period.
Missed free throws, 1-of-6 as a team, and turnovers held down the Versailles scoring as the Lady Wildcat offense was able to get some good interior looks at the basket and take an 18-10 first period lead.
Versailles offensively was getting some good shot opportunities from close-in, but many of the shots would not fall. Minster was doing a very effective job rebounding the basketball. The lead hovered near the 10-point mark, finally settling in at 33-21 in favor of Minster at the half. The Lady Tigers were now 4-of-12 from the free throw line.
“Couldn’t get our post game going,” Versailles girls basketball coach Jacki Stonebraker said. “We got good shots from inside and couldn’t put those shots in. Couldn’t rebound as well as well as I wanted to. In the end it comes down to free throws and missed bunnies.”
The third quarter showed the toughness and strength of character of the Lady Tigers. Minster hit them with a 7-0 run, jumping the deficit from 12 to 19 at 40-21 with about five-and-a-half minutes to go in the period. Playing on the other team’s home court many teams would have packed in things for the night, but that’s not how you get to be the No. 3 ranked team in Division III.
Versailles cranked up the defensive pressure and sparked by a Claire Schmitmeyer 3-point play went on a 14-6 streak of its own to cut the lead to 46-35 by the conclusion of the quarter. The Lady Tigers were definitely back in the game with a quarter to play.
Just when the Wildcats thought they could catch their breath, the Lady Tigers were right back at them. McEldowney again hit the Lady Wildcats, this time on the first two possessions opening the quarter by firing in triples to cut the Minster lead to 46-41 with 6:54 left in the game.
After an unsuccessful Minster possession Versailles once again scored a basket to trail just 46-43 and had cut 16 points from that 19 point deficit in less than eight minutes. The Lady Tigers would twice again cut the lead to 3, the last time at 50-47 with 3:37 remaining, but would fail to draw closer.
“Thought the girls played hard in the third and fourth,” Coach Stonebraker said. “Hit some shots from the outside … We can’t get down by 19 … We gave up too many big shots.”
McEldowney led Lady Tiger scorers with 23. Liz Ording had 8, and Lindsey Winner added 6. Versailles shot 14-of-25 from the free throw line.
Versailles now stands at 15-3 and in second place in the MAC with a 6-1 record. What do you do after such a tough loss?
“We just come back,” Stonebraker said. “We work on basics. We talk about tonight. We work back into our system.”