NEW MADISON – The championship game of the 30th annual Bill Burkett Tournament was an early season test for two traditionally strong conference contenders year in and year out – Versailles in the Midwest Athletic Conference and Tri-Village in the Cross County Conference.
When the final horn sounded, it was Versailles walking away with the hardware with a 62-44 win.
Both teams struggled shooting the ball early until Versailles senior Kami McEldowney connected on a couple of triples and that would give the Tigers an 11-6 lead in the opening quarter.
Tri-Village cut the lead to 14-11 early in the second quarter, but the Tigers clamped down defensively and shut out the PATS for the next three minutes. A triple by Danielle Kunk widened the lead to 23-11.
Maddie Downing broke the scoring drought for Tri-Village with an offensive put-back to trail 23-13.
Trisa Porter gave a glimmer of hope to the Patriots, connecting on a three of her own to cut the margin to 23-16 at the half.
Tri-Village’s Emma Printz rained in a trifecta to start the second half, and the Patriots trailed by just 4 points.
Versailles, though, started to use its size on the glass with Danielle Winner and Elizabeth Ording doing the damage. Ording had 7 points and Winner 6 in the frame to help re-build the Tigers lead to 44-28 at the end of the third quarter.
“They killed our momentum,” Tri-Village girls basketball coach Brad Gray said. “We had it going into the half. We came out and cut it to 4, but the two put-backs and an easy transition bucket were the two things we said couldn’t happen. That quick 6-0 run got them back up to a 10-point lead, and we played from behind the rest of the night.
“We knew the key to the game was rebounding and keeping them off the offensive glass, and we struggled some … but when they go 6-2, 6-2 and 5-11 and we have just one 6-foot girl you sort of expect it some,” Gray added.
The Tigers’ inside play was the difference in the third quarter and the Patriots never really recovered.
“We got a nice game from Liz Ording 13 points and Danielle Winner 10 inside tonight … we have a lot of options, and I really feel like any girl on this team can step up and score,” Versailles coach Jackie Stonebraker said.
In the final stanza, the scrappy Patriots were forced to pressure and that would send the Tigers to the free throw line. The Tigers were 14-for-23 in the period and 23-for-35 for the game. They would make more than Tri-Village attempted, and that usually is the difference in most games.
Versailles went on to win it 62-44 earning the championship trophy.
“It’s no secret we needed some of our shots to fall early,” Gray said. “We missed some point blank easy shots that could have made it a different ball game early.
“Versailles is very good, tough, athletic, physical and well coached and for the most part I thought we battled really hard tonight,” Gray said.
“To me that was the biggest take away. Last year we sort of rolled over in the second half. Tonight there was no point where I felt like our kids quit or were starting to roll over. There were moments of frustration but no moments of quit,” Gray concluded.
Stonebraker was complimentary of the Patriots.
“Tri-Village has some nice players. They are scrappy and never let down. They are very much like a MAC team that does the little things well. They screen well, they get open, they box out well, so it was a good test for us tonight,” Stonebraker said.
“Kami McEldowney had a really nice game tonight. She was hitting from the outside, and we did a nice job getting the ball to her, and overall she had a great tournament,” Stonebraker said of her senior guard and leader.
McEldowney led Versailles with 20 points and had a two-game total of 37 that garnered her the tournament MVP award.
Teammates joining her on the all-tournament team were Danielle Winner and Elizabeth Ording. Tri-Village’s Lissa Siler and Trisa Porter plus Greenon’s Reagan Ware also were named to the all-tournament team.
“The girls were excited about the tournament and winning it. They felt like they put forth a lot of energy, and it was a good way for us to get prepared to start our MAC season next week,” Stonebraker concluded.
Score by quarters:
Versailles … 11…12…21…18 – 62
Tri-Village … 06…10…12…16 – 44
Versailles: K. McEldowney 20, C. McEldowney 2, H. McEldowney 2, Kunk 5, Peters 3, Ording 13, L. Winner 3, D. Winner 10, Custenborder 2, Marshal 2 – Totals 4-13-24/35 – 62
Tri-Village: Foreman 2, Moore 2, Printz 5, Porter 9, A. Bietry 5, Siler 12, Downing 9 – Totals 3-10-15/21 – 44
Versailles 4 (K. McEldowney 3, Kunk 1)
Tri-Village 3 (Printz 1, Porter 1, Siler 1)