CLAYTON – The Versailles Tigers took advantage of an Evan Hiestand tip-in at 0:03.6 in overtime to defeat the state’s No. 10 ranked D-III Brookville Blue Devils 48-46 and advance in tournament play.
“They have 20-wins for a reason,” said Versailles coach Travis Swank. “They are senior led, they have a lot of guys that have played at the varsity level for several years – they have very good players. We’re just happy to get out of here with a win.”
A Michael Stammen basket at 7:31 in the opening period gave the Tigers an early 2-0 lead. Brookville evened the score at 2-2, 6’6” Austin Toner got a stick-back at 4:36 giving Versailles a 4-2 advantage only to have Brookville even the score at 4-4.
The teams exchanged baskets for the game’s third tie at 6-6 with 3:22 on the board followed by an old fashioned Hiestand 3-point play to give Versailles a 9-3 lead.
Four unanswered points gave the Blue Devils their first lead of the night, 10-9 with 1:14 showing. Hiestand closed out first quarter scoring with a layup to give Versailles an 11-10 lead after one period of play.
Brookville took the second quarter 14-11 but not before Versailles would own the largest lead of the night for either team, a 6-point 18-12 score coming at 6:08 by way of a Stammen layup and a Ryan Martin 3-pointer.
The Blue Devils battle back with a 9-0 run to lead 21-18. A Hiestand tip-in made it a 21-20 game before a Brookville triple gave the Blue Devils a 24-20 lead with 0:42 on the first half clock.
A Hiestand reverse layup with nine seconds remaining sent the teams to the break with Brookville holding a 24-22 advantage.
Brookville moved out to a 26-22 third quarter lead before Hiestand would score five unanswered points to give the Tigers a 27-26 advantage.
The Blue Devils used a 5-0 run of their own to go back on top 31-27 only to have Versailles close out third period scoring with four Stammen unanswered points by way of a driving layup and 2-2 at the line with 0:03.9 showing sending the teams to the final period of regulation play with the score all even at 31-31.
Stammen buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key for 34-31 Versailles lead at 7:24 in the fourth followed by a Brookville basket and 3-pointer to give the Blue Devils a 36-34 advantage.
Connor VanSkyock drilled a Tigers 3-pointer to put Versailles back on top 37-36 and Hiestand scored in the paint to give the Tigers a 39-36 lead.
A Brookville goal had the Versailles lead down to one at 3:56 with Hiestand getting a stick-back at 2:39 giving the Tigers a 41-38 advantage with 2:39 remaining.
A Brookville 2-point goal had the Tigers lead down to one at 41-40, Stammen with 2-2 at the line put Versailles back up by three at 43-40 and a Blue Devils layup had the Tigers lead down to 43-42 with 43-seconds on the clock.
Stammen hit the front end of two free throws to push the Tigers lead to 44-42 at 0:39 only to have Brookville hit a 4-foot running baseline floater at 0:10 to send the game to overtime tied 44-44.
Toner hit the back-end of two free throws to put Versailles up 45-44 followed by a Blue Devils basket putting Brookville on top 46-45.
Stammen hit the second of two Versailles free throws to knot the game at 46-46 with 1:02 on the overtime clock. With Brookville’s offense working the clock down, was unable to score setting up a Hiestand tip-in of a Tigers missed shot with 0:03.6 on the clock to give Versailles a 48-46 lead bringing a timeout from the Brookville bench.
Coach Swank immediately called timeout following the Blue Devils break before Brookville would attempt to go the length of the court in under 4-seconds and come up short as a well-designed Versailles defense kept Brookville from getting a good last second shot off advancing the Tigers in tournament play.
“Barnburner,” said Swank following the game. “They hit a tough shot there in the regulation. I was hoping they weren’t going to turn the trick twice on us.”
“They ended up not getting a shot off,” Swank continued. “Our kids battled back all year long from a lot of different things. We’re not the prettiest team out there but we sure have a lot of grit and determination we put out there on the floor every night.”
Versailles senior Evan Hiestand led all scorers with a game high 24-points.
“I’m glad he got those 24 because 22 wouldn’t have been enough for us,” Swank stated. “He played his tail off – he doesn’t want his season to end. He’s not the vocal leader that you would think of a senior but he works his tail off in practice. The guys just gravitate towards him because he plays so hard not only in practice but games too and when you have leadership like that, sometimes it’s just as good as being a vocal leader.”
With the win, Versailles advances to compete for the district championship trophy for the third consecutive season.
“We expect ourselves to be there,” Coach Swank stated. “You can say what you want – a lot of people didn’t expect us to be very good this year. Maybe that’s a chip that we hold on our shoulder right now as a team. We’ve lost a lot of good talent and we know that you’ve just seen a kid (Justin Ahrens) dropping 29 in the Big Ten off of our team the other night, so I don’t think a lot of people gave us chances to be at this point and time but it doesn’t matter when every single one of our guys in the locker room, coaches and managers believe in themselves and believe in what we’re doing and you can get there then.”