VERSAILLES – In a span of about 8 seconds in the third quarter, Versailles got what essentially amounted to a 5-point play to go up on St. Henry by nine points, 35-26.
Caitlin McEldowney got a steal on an in-bounds play by St. Henry and put up a two-pointer at the 3:13 mark of the third frame. She drew the foul as well, but when she missed the free throw, Brooke Stonebraker grabbed the rebound and kicked it out to Hannah Barga who drained a 3-pointer to complete the two-possession, 5-point play. It was the turning point of the game despite the fact that the Redskins would make a final run at the host Tigers late in the fourth quarter.
St. Henry pulled within two with 1:22 remaining, but began fouling Versailles who sent both McEldowney and Liz Watren to the line sinking 4-of-7 to win the game.
“I thought that was a huge turning point in the game,” Versailles coach Jacki Stonebraker said of her teams’ 49-43 victory over St. Henry. “I just told my team that it was impossible to get a 5-point play for them to beat us with 30 seconds to go, but yes there was a big turn there for us. It was a big turnaround for us.”
St. Henry made a feverish run at the Tigers in the fourth quarter cutting the lead from 45-36 to 45-43 with just over a minute to go in the game. Nora Vaughn hit a 3-pointer to start the 7-0 run and Danielle Lange and Alyssa Buschur each had regular buckets to close that gap. But Liz Watren went to the free throw line with 1:09 left and sank both shots to stretch the lead back to four points for the Tigers. With 28 ticks left on the clock, McEldowney hit the second of two free throws for a 48-43 lead and then Watren did the same with 8 seconds left for the final margin as Versailles, currently ranked sixth in the most recent Division III state poll, survived the late run.
Nora Vaughn led all players with 15 points, but the next highest scorer for St. Henry was Lange with 9 points.
The first half wasn’t the best for Versailles, which trailed 11-9 after the first quarter.
“It wasn’t the prettiest first half especially rebounding and that is a message every game,” Stonebraker said. “It is just so much different when you have such athletic post players and guards coming from the outside and really diving so hard. They sprint to those rebounds so you are trying to keep your balance in there without getting knocked over sometimes because they are barreling in there. They are great rebounders and they know where to go so that was a great test for us.”
The second quarter was a little better for the Tigers. Barga opened the frame with her first triple of the contest to push her team back in front 12-11. Elizabeth Ording then got a basket and Barga hit a pair of free throws to surge ahead 16-11, but the Redskins weren’t about to lay down and fought all the way to the buzzer sounded as Cora Stammen sank a deuce to get her team within one point at halftime, 24-23.
“Have you ever seen a MAC team just fall over? No,” Stonebraker said. “They don’t so we know that we are in a game. Yes we might have a 10-point lead but you know they are going to put something together to comeback. They are not just going to fold so that is what we keep preaching to our girls. Keep going, keep it in drive and make sure you keep going and never let up.
“I felt like we went through a drought in the second quarter where we couldn’t get any offense going and Liz (Ording) gave us some nice points there,” she continued as Ording had all 6 of her points in the quarter. “They were 6 big points to keep us with some offense because they did a great job packing it in the middle and not letting us get too many easy shots from the inside. We tried to spread them out and drive it in but it just wasn’t working.”
Barga, a junior, led the Tigers with 10 points. Fellow junior Lindsey Winner also had 10 points for VHS, 8 of those coming in the second half.
“I felt like I had to keep her on the floor tonight,” Stonebraker said of Barga. “She played a really good floor game offensively and defensively. She had to play against (Allison) Siefring who is a little bigger of a guard and she got posted up on her. She was able to stand her ground and just looked phenomenal tonight.”
After Barga and Winner with 10, Kelsey Custenborder had 7 points, Ording had 6 and McEldowney added 5.
Versailles was scheduled to play Arcanum Saturday morning, but the forecasted snowstorm forced the cancellation of that game. It is rescheduled for Feb. 5. The Tigers next game will now be at home against Franklin-Monroe on Tuesday.
“We haven’t played in a week so we really wanted to get our legs back on the floor and get back into the groove,” Stonebraker said. “But there is no rest for the weary now. We go the next two weeks with 2-3 games a week, so we have to be in game shape from here on out.”
Score by quarters
St. Henry – Cora Stammen 2 0 4, Addy Vaughn 2 1 5, Danielle Lange 4 0 9, Allison Siefring 1 3 5, Carleigh Deitsch 1 0 2, Alyssa Buschur 1 1 3, Nora Vaughn 6 1 15. Totals: 17 6 43.
Versailles – Liz Watren 0 3 3, Caitlin McEldowney 2 1 5, Hannah Barga 3 2 10, Danielle Kunk 1 0 2, Savannah Toner 0 2 2, Elizabeth Ording 3 0 6, Lindsey Winner 5 0 10, Kelsey Custenborder 3 1 7, Brooke Stonebraker 2 0 4. Totals: 19 9 49.
3-pointers – St. Henry 3 (N. Vaughn 2, Lange 1), Versailles 2 (Barga 2).
Records: St. Henry (9-5, 3-2 MAC), Versailles (11-3, 6-0 MAC).
JV score: Versailles 40, St. Henry 29.
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @skipweaver65.