VERSAILLES – He became the all-time leading scorer in Versailles and Midwest Athletic Conference history Friday night, but Justin Ahrens isn’t satisfied yet with what he’s accomplished in his high school career.
Ahrens passed 2004 Versailles graduate Kyle Gehle on Friday night as the all-time leading scorer in school and conference history. He scored 38 points against Fort Recovery and finished the game with 1,776 points – 32 more than Gehle’s previous record of 1,744.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Ahrens said. “It’s something I’ve really looked forward to all my life, but it’s really something along the way, and it’s not something I settled for. I’m not going to settle for this. I’m just looking to keep getting better, and I’m going to keep working. I really give credit to my teammates for helping me along this way. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them all these four years.”
Ahrens finished Friday’s game with a triple-double – 38 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He’s atop his team and the MAC in all of those categories for the season.
“He played really well,” Versailles boys basketball coach Travis Swank said. “Again, he does so many other things other than scoring for our team. He’s a rebounder. He’s a passer. Glad he’s on our team like I’ve said in the past. I’m happy for him and the achievement that he got here tonight.”
Ahrens entered Friday’s game knowing he was close to history with friends eagerly awaiting the milestone throughout the week.
“I was expecting to get it this game,” the Versailles senior said. “I knew I wasn’t far away. I had a lot of people tell me at school today that they were coming to watch it. It was exciting. It was a fun time. It wasn’t really something that was on my mind a lot, though.”
A 3-pointer late in the first quarter gave Ahrens the record. The rest of the night he displayed the skills that make him one of the state’s top players and a future Ohio State Buckeye.
“He’s a really good player,” Swank said. “Makes things easier for me, makes things easier for his teammates. It’s a joy to coach him. I’m just in awe of some of the things he can do out there. I think the people here at Versailles should really appreciate this kind of talent that doesn’t come around very often.”
Being the top scorer in any conference is quite an accomplishment let alone doing it in the MAC, one of the nation’s most competitive conferences in all sports. The conference is full of history with half of the league’s schools – Delphos St. John’s, Fort Recovery, Marion Local, New Knoxville and St. Henry – owning state championships in boys basketball.
The MAC also has produced several NCAA Division I basketball players including Kyle Ahrens from Versailles at Michigan State University, Luke Knapke from Marion Local at the University of Toledo and Ryan Mikesell from St. Henry at the University of Dayton. Kyle Ahrens, the older brother of Justin, is fifth on the MAC’s all-time scoring list with 1,666 career points.
In the final months of his high school career, Ahrens wants to do something his brother and Gehle fell just short of achieving – winning an Ohio High School Athletic Association state championship. Gehle led the Tigers to a state runner-up finish in 2004 while Kyle Ahrens led the Tigers to a state runner-up finish in 2013.
The year’s Versailles squad has suffered just one loss, falling by 2 points in overtime to Fort Loramie, who is ranked No. 1 in the Division IV state rankings by the Associated Press, and Ahrens expects the Tigers to be in contention for a championship at the end of the season.
“It’s been a fun season with these guys,” he said. “We have a great group of guys. We come into practice every day and we’re always joking around. We’re always having a good time. We’re just looking to make a deep tournament run and be the first team to make history at Versailles.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.