COVINGTON – Caitlin McEldowney hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the first few minutes of the game and didn’t stop until she had a career-high 20 points in leading Versailles to a 70-21 victory over Urbana on Thursday in the opening round of the Division III sectional tournament at Covington.
“My teammates were like ‘just keep shooting, we’ll get you open and we got your back’ so that’s what I did,” the junior said of her career-high performance. “To win the first game definitely gets our confidence high and gets us on a roll. It is a huge win and now we just have to keep going from here.”
The Lady Tigers made it all the way to the state finals last season, but lost in the championship game to Columbus Africentric.
McEldowney had six triples in all for the game leaving her one shy if tying her sister Kami for the single-game record.
“Caitlin was shooting pretty well tonight,” veteran Versailles coach Jacki Stonebraker said. “It went through my mind to leave her in to try and tie Kami, but I also thought the injury possibility is much higher at that point and she had a lot of attempts to do that in the first quarter.”
McEldowney put her first trey through the net at the 6:20 mark in the first quarter and it sparked a 24-0 run into the second quarter before Urbana put any points on the board. By that time, McEldowney already had scored 9 points and Kelsey Custenborder had 5 for the Tigers with several others at a bucket each.
Despite the insurmountable lead, Stonebraker wasn’t pleased with her teams’ shooting in the first quarter.
“That first quarter was probably the worst shooting we’ve ever had,” Stonebraker said. “But I thought we came out in the second quarter, kept our heads high and said ‘Yeah that was a bad shooting quarter so the law of percentages has to go up from there right?’
“We had several offensive rebounds in that first quarter and none of them were put back in,” she continued. “That is not like us. We might miss an outside shot, but the putback usually is there. I don’t know what it is, but we shoot a lot in practice so we just have to find a rhythm.”
Stonebraker was definitely pleased the Tigers’ defensive effort.
“Our full court man was smothering tonight,” Stonebraker said. “We just didn’t let them see the basket. We got maybe a couple five second calls too and I thought in the back court our girls did a great job of rotating and finding the trap when we were able to trap. I was a little disappointed in the intensity of our half-court defense in the second quarter, but the third quarter I thought we came back out in our half court and did a nice job.
“Lindsey (Winner) got some big rebounds and ran the floor well tonight,” she continued. “She had a huge play on a tip to Elizabeth Ording. You just can’t teach that. That is just her seeing the court. She is such a phenomenal volleyball player on top of being a great basketball player. She sees the court so well and she knows where to kill the ball or where to hit the ball too because she knows where other people aren’t and that was a volleyball move right there. A little tip to her partner Liz and up and in.”
Winner was the second leading scorer for the Tigers with 12 points. Custenborder added 10 in the win as 10 players total reached the scoring column for Versailles, which improves to 18-5 on the season.
The Hillclimbers (5-18) were led by Alaina Lyons with 9 points – all on 3-pointers – and Samantha Rooney added 6 points.
The Lady Tigers are now 18-5 and advance to the sectional semifinals where they will face Springfield Northeastern at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21 at Covington.
Score by quarters
Versailles – Liz Watren 2 0 4, Abby Stammen 1 0 2, Caitlin McEldowney 7 0 20, Hannah Barga 0 1 1, Savannah Toner 4 1 9, Elizabeth Ording 2 0 4, Lindsey Winner 6 0 12, Caitlyn Luthman 1 0 2, Kelsey Custenborder 3 3 10, Brooke Stonebraker 3 0 6. Totals: 29 5 70.
Urbana – Alaina Lyons 3 0 9, Claire Shelpman 1 0 2, Marissa Horn 1 0 2, Samantha Rooney 2 2 6, Kacie Martin 1 0 2. Totals: 8 2 21.
3-pointers – Versailles 7 (McEldowney 6, Custenborder 1), Urbana 3 (Lyons 3).
Records: Versailles (18-5), Urbana (5-18).
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.