VERSAILLES – The Versailles girls basketball team secured the outright Midwest Athletic Conference championship on Thursday with a 56-37 victory against St. Henry.
The league championship is the Tigers’ first since the 2013-14 season and the program’s fourth overall since joining the conference during the 2001-02 school year.
“It’s a tough road,” Versailles girls basketball coach Jacki Stonebraker said. “It is amazing how tough this MAC road is every year, and to go undefeated in the MAC it just feels good.”
League championships have been elusive for Versailles. Since joining the MAC, the Tigers have qualified for the Ohio High School Athletic Association state final four six times but only won the conference four times.
This is the first conference championship in girls basketball for any of the current Versailles players, who won a state championship in 2015 and finished as state runners-up last year.
“It’s just amazing how hard every MAC team plays,” Stonebraker said. “You see St. Henry out there, and they’re down by 10 at halftime and they still had a fight. There’s no getting them down. There’s no blowouts in the MAC, I feel like.”
Versailles never trailed in Thursday’s contest, but St. Henry didn’t make it easy for the Tigers. The visitors kept it close throughout the entire first quarter, which ended with Versailles holding a slim 15-13 lead.
St. Henry held Versailles scoreless through the first three minutes of the second quarter, during which it tied the game for the first time at 15-15.
Caitlin McEldowney drained a 3-pointer to regain the lead for Versailles then the Tigers started to gain some control. Versailles outscored St. Henry 16-8 in the second quarter to build a double-digit lead entering halftime, 31-21.
“We ran a little bit more,” Stonebraker said of Versailles’ offensive success in the second quarter. “They let us go a little bit more. I felt like their defense was superb in the first quarter. They stayed between us and the basket, they didn’t give us anything easy, and they just made us play. They made us play a half-court game, and kudos to St. Henry. They did a nice job playing defense on us. They made us make mistakes, and we made mistakes. We had unforced turnovers, and we’re going to have to fix those before heading into the next season.”
Versailles continued to add to its lead in the third quarter and went up 48-29. St. Henry matched Versailles’ scoring output in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers got the 56-37 win to complete an undefeated MAC season.
Elizabeth Ording led Versailles with a season-high 13 points. Also for the Tigers, Kami McEldowney scored 12 points, Danielle Winner scored 10, Caitlin McEldowney scored 6, Kelsey Custenborder scored 5, Hailey McEldowney scored 4, Lindsey Winner scored 4, and Danielle Kunk scored 2.
Nikki Keller led St. Henry with 7 points, Cora Stammen scored 6, Alyssa Buschur scored 5, Marlee Vaughn scored 5, Allison Siefring scored 4, Addy Vaughn scored 4, Nora Vaughn scored 4, and Danielle Imel scored 2.
Versailles improved to 20-1 overall and 9-0 in the MAC with Thursday’s victory. The Tigers will conclude the regular season on Saturday when they play host to Jackson Center, which will be senior day for 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.