VERSAILLES – A halftime pep talk was at least part of what sparked the Versailles girls basketball team to a 48-33 win over Arcanum on Tuesday night.
The Lady Tigers were leading 17-12 at the break, but had several first-half turnovers that led veteran coach Jacki Stonebraker to talk about scoring the basketball more than anything else with her team during the halftime break.
“All we talked about in the locker room was having the will to put the ball in the hole,” Stonebraker said. “We didn’t do any X’s and O’s. We didn’t do any offensive or defensive schemes. It was just the fact that we needed to score the ball. That’s just focusing and knowing that it is going to go in. Stop boo-hooing yourself because nobody feels sorry for you. You need to make sure that you just take care of business and do what you know how to do.”
The pep talk worked as Versailles opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run to put a little more distance between them and the young, scrappy Trojans. Senior post player Elizabeth Ording started the 8-0 run almost immediately when she banked in a deuce at the 7:47 mark. Arcanum’s following trip down the floor was short-lived as junior guard Caitlin McEldowney stole the ball near mid court and took it in for a layup at 7:21. A little less than a minute later, junior Lindsey Winner hit a jumper and then after another Arcanum turnover, VHS senior Kelsey Custenborder scored and just like that – in a span of less than two minutes – Versailles’ lead grew to from 5 to 13 points at 25-12.
Arcanum freshman Hailey Unger stopped the run with a 3-pointer at 6:05, but the Tigers full-court pressure was intense and led to several more turnovers they converted into points.
“They are ranked sixth in the state for a reason,” Arcanum coach Michael Dean said. “They are good defensively and they pressed us the whole night. I consider us a very good team in dealing with the press because we work on it in practice everyday because we press the crap out of people too. To me that is what wins games, but they put a lot of pressure on us and we missed a lot of shots inside that we should have made – finishing layups we didn’t make and we know that.”
To make matters worse for the Trojans, Versailles did the same thing in opening the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run that expanded its lead from 10 to 18 points at 40-22 with 4:48 left to play. Junior Brooke Stonebraker was the catalyst in that run scoring 6 of the 8 points including two from the free throw line. Hannah Barga also connected on a pair of free throws during that run.
“Brooke is doing a good job getting rebounds and playing within herself,” Coach Stonebraker said. “She is putting the ball up and in and hitting some free throws.
“It was the team with the less amount of turnovers and the most amount of rebounds I felt like coming in was going to win the game tonight,” she continued. “We got some easy points off rebounds and they got some easy points off turnovers because we lost it in the back court a couple times for easy layups, but that is some sloppiness that we just have to take care of.”
Arcanum only had four players reach the scoring column in the game, also a likely result of the Tigers’ pressure.
“A couple of our girls just had an off night,” Dean said. “I thought we played a good strong game defensively. It was 17-12 at half and I thought we were giving them everything they could handle defensively, but that third quarter they came out strong on us and we just couldn’t hit anything. We had shots. They weren’t denying us the shots. We were getting position to shoot, but we just weren’t making them and you can’t go cold at those moments.”
Unger led the Lady Trojans with a game-high 15 points. Fellow freshmen Taylor Gray and Madelyn Fearon had 8 and 4 points respectively and junior Kayla O’Daniel accounted for the other 6 points.
Ording and Custenborder were the top scorers for Versailles with 10 points apiece. Winner had 9 and Stonebraker contributed 7 from the post.
“Liz (Ording) played really strong. She was a nice spark for us tonight,” Stonebraker said. “Everybody thinks they have to double team Lindsey (Winner), but I think Liz has proven herself in the post.”
Four other Tigers contributed points in the game with 4 points each from Liz Watren and McEldowney and 2 points apiece from Barga and Savannah Toner.
With the regular season nearing the end, both teams get back on the court on Thursday with Arcanum hosting Tri-Village in its final regular season match, and Versailles going on the road to Coldwater. Versailles will close out its regular season at Jackson Center on Saturday.
“We had some good moments tonight and some things to learn from,” Dean said. “That is the whole point when you lose against good teams you’ve got to look at it and figure out what you have to do next time. These girls are facing some adversity right now and I couldn’t be happier with how they are learning to respond to that adversity. Hopefully we will learn from here and have a good game Thursday.”
Score by quarters
Arcanum – Madelyn Fearon 2 0 4, Hailey Unger 5 3 15, Kayla O’Daniel 3 0 6, Taylor Gray 4 0 8. Totals: 14 3 33.
Versailles – Liz Watren 2 0 4, Caitlin McEldowney 2 0 4, Hannah Barga 0 2 2, Savannah Toner 0 2 2, Elizabeth Ording 4 2 10, Lindsey Winner 4 1 9, Kelsey Custenborder 3 3 10, Brooke Stonebraker 2 3 7. Totals: 17 13 48.
3-pointers – Arcanum 2 (Unger 2), Versailles 1 (Custenborder 1).
Records: Arcanum (14-7), Versailles (15-5).
JV score: Versailles 54, Arcanum 50.
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.