VERSAILLES – A second-half switch of offenses did the trick as Versailles rallied from being down by five at halftime to defeating Darke County rival Franklin-Monroe 58-45 on Tuesday night.
VHS coach Jacki Stonebraker said she switched to a four-out, one-in offense which helped her players get open better and that resulted in a 9-point swing in the third quarter where the Tigers went from being down by five to up by four heading into the final period.
The third quarter also saw senior Liz Ording and junior Caitlin McEldowney finding their scoring grooves. Ording scored 15 of her game-high 19 points in the second half with 6 of those coming in the third quarter, while McEldowney had 17 total points in the game with 9 of those in the third quarter – all on three’s – and 3 more in the final frame.
“Liz Ording played a strong, strong game especially in the second half,” Stonebraker said. “She just took it at them. (FM junior Corina) Conley got in foul trouble so we knew we could go at them inside a little bit more and Liz did a nice job finishing around the rim.
“Liz hasn’t had an offensive output like that in a while but she is very capable of it,” she continued. “I’d like to see her play like that all the time. Caitlin got hot in the third quarter too. She hit her three’s tonight and that got her going with a little extra jump in her step.”
FM opened the second half scoring with a deuce by Chloe Peters to go up by seven (28-21), but over the next four minutes Versailles went on a 12-3 run to regain the lead at 33-31 with 3:33 left in the period. McEldowney and Ording each accounted for 6 points during that run – Ording on three deuces and McEldowney on a pair of triples. Kennedy Morris hit a pair of free throws at the 3:12 mark to tie it at 33-33, but McEldowney responded with her third triple of the quarter at the 2:58 mark and Brooke Stonebraker got a putback bucket with 1:42 left to push the Tigers out to a 38-33 lead. FM junior Corina Conley then connected on a three of her down to get the Jets to within two at 38-36, but Brooke Stonebraker put in another 2-pointer to end the quarter with her team ahead 40-36.
The start of the fourth quarter saw a quick surge to an 8-point lead for Versailles with Ording scoring four points right off the bat, but FM again withstood the Tigers push and got back to within one at 44-43 behind a triple from Conley and a pair of 2-pointers from Stella Shellabarger and Morris. However, with 3:12 remaining, Versailles made one more offensive run and the Lady Jets could not withstand it a third time, according to FM coach Abbey Moore.
“The last three minutes we were shot,” Moore said. “They were subbing girls in and out the whole game, and unfortunately with limited numbers we can’t do that quite as much and that showed at the end of the game. They had their legs and we didn’t.
“I’m proud of our effort the whole game,” she continued. “That is something I never question my team on. They come out and give it their all no matter who we’re playing and no matter what time of the game. We came out and played our basketball at the beginning of the game and we were able to go in at halftime with a 5-point lead, but we just kind of lost our composure in that fourth quarter and that was the difference.”
That last offensive burst for Versailles was a 12-0 run from 3:12 on the clock to 1:56 left with a 56-43 lead. Peters scored one more time for the Lady Jets to get it to 56-45, but Lindsey Winner had one final basket for the Lady Tigers with 1:12 left for the final margin.
“I really think the difference in the game was when we went to our four-out and one-in offense,” Coach Stonebraker said. “We didn’t set a lot of screens, we were just cutting and they couldn’t switch and help as much. In the first half, they were denying our wings so we couldn’t get into our offense. We were getting into our offense really high by the half-court line which is not where we want to get into our offense. We couldn’t see our posts from out there.
“Our defense got started too and once we get the defense going our offense starts to ignite as well,” she continued. “Then we started getting the ball a little bit lower where we could see the posts and they were posting up really well. We got a little inside-outside game going and we started catching and passing better and there was just a better flow to the game.”
Conley led Franklin-Monroe with 13 points followed by Morris with 12 and Belle Cable and Peters with 8 each.
“They did make a run in the third quarter, but I felt like we combated that,” Moore said. “We were able to come back and hit some big shots and got some open looks and that came from our aggressive defense late in that third quarter. We were able to get on a roll, but having to do that twice in a game against an excellent team like Versailles your legs are going to ware on you and I think that second run we made was the last one we were going to make and unfortunately, we didn’t have another one in us.
“I am extremely proud of this group and how they were able to come out and give it their all,” she continued. “At the same time we should be able to play with a team like this. I feel talent wise we stack up with these type of teams so I expect it out of them. I am hoping we will start to earn that respect, but these girls have to believe in themselves and just get it done on the floor. These games are going to pay off come tournament time and that is what we talked about – remembering moments like that when you are on the floor and trying to get in your mind and figure out what am I going to do different the next time because we know we are going to be in situations like this come tournament time. Hopefully with having this experience now we are going to be able to fix the problems come tournament time. It will pay off in the end.”
After Ording’s 19 points and McEldowney’s 17, Versailles had Brooke Stonebraker with 9 points and Liz Watren and Winner with 6 points apiece.
“This was a great test for us,” Coach Stonebraker said. “They are young and have a lot of spunk to them. They don’t get down or fold when you get them down a little bit, they go right back at you. We’d get up 5-6 points and then it seemed like it was tied again. It was a great backyard battle.”
Franklin-Monroe will be back in action with a 6 p.m. start at Bradford on Thursday, while Versailles will host Parkway the same day beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Score by quarters
Franklin-Monroe – Belle Cable 2 4 8, Corina Conley 4 2 13, Kennedy Morris 3 5 12, Stella Shellabarger 2 0 4, Chloe Peters 4 0 8. Totals: 15 11 45.
Versailles – Liz Watren 3 0 6, Caitlin McEldowney 6 0 17, Hannah Barga 0 1 1, Elizabeth Ording 9 1 19, Lindsey Winner 3 0 6, Brooke Stonebraker 4 1 9. Totals: 25 3 58.
3-pointers – Franklin-Monroe 4 (Conley 3, Morris 1), Versailles 5 (McEldowney 5).
Records: Franklin-Monroe (12-4), Versailles (12-3).
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter at @skipweaver65.