VERSAILLES – Justin Ahrens scored 22 of his game-high 34 points in the first 12 minutes to propel Versailles to a 67-54 victory over visiting Urbana Wednesday evening in non-conference action.
Justin Ahrens, a Tiger sophomore, scored the opening 12 points of the game for Versailles. The Hillclimber defense simply did not have an answer to stop him, but offensively by using a balanced team attack they kept the score close. After one period the score was 21-16 in Versailles’ favor.
“He’s been shooting extremely well and takes the ball to the basket well and is playing under control, too,” Versailles boys basketball coach Scott McEldowney said. “I think he takes quality shots. When he’s shooting that well it’s tough to say a whole lot. He pumped them in. He’s a tough match-up. He’s playing extremely well.”
It looked like the magical night for Justin Ahrens would not be stopped, and it wasn’t by Urbana. After making the first two field goals of the second quarter, a 3-pointer and a nice reverse lay-in, baskets were added by Brett McEldowney and Alex Wendel to push the Tigers’ lead to 30-20. Then, with 3:45 remaining until halftime Justin Ahrens picked up his second personal foul and would sit out the rest of the period.
Urbana seized the opportunity and went to work. In the next 3:41 the Hillclimbers would get two Cameron Logwood baskets and convert 7 of 7 at the line to cut the Versailles lead to 36-31. That only leaves four seconds in the half.
After the Hillclimbers made their last free throw the Tigers quickly worked the ball up-court where Brett McEldowney launched a shot with about one second left from just inside half-court that found the bottom of the net for three points, giving Versailles a 39-31 lead at the intermission.
Urbana opened the third period with a changed defense and a changed result. The new defense was a full-court man-to-man press, and the result was a 10-0 run that gave the Hillclimbers a lead, 41-39.
During the run Versailles had been looking to set up its own trapping press. Now as the Tigers started to make some baskets they could get into it more frequently. The Tigers made some adjustments and now it was time for them to make a run.
Keaton McEldowney and Justin Ahrens alternated scores with the highlight being a dunk by Ahrens, giving Versailles a 12-2 run and a 55-45 advantage after three quarters.
Things continued to go the Tigers way in the fourth period. They added yet another 10-2 run to balloon the lead to 65-47, before closing out the Hillclimbers at 67-54.
Behind Justin Ahrens’ 34 points were contributions of nine by Brett McEldowney, eight for Keaton McEldowney and eight for Austin Knapke.
“We’ve got a lot of guys in the 7-9 point range,” Coach McEldowney said. “They’re shooting a high percentage. There’s going to be times when somebody will double team or play a box-in-one on Justin, and their shots are going to go up.”
With the victory Versailles moves to 7-1 on the season, 3-0 in the Midwest Athletic Conference. Urbana falls to 5-3 on the year.
The Versailles junior varsity raised its record to 6-2 by defeating Urbana 32-31 in the early game.
Jor Underwood 18, Jac Underwood 3, Howell 5, Logwood 12, Honere 2, Emmons 5, Boettcher 9.
Knapke 8, Niekamp 2, K McEldowney 8, Wendel 4, J Ahrens 34, B McEldowney 9, Custenborder 2.
3pts: Urb: 5 (Logwood 2, Jor Underwood, Jac Underwood, Boettcher); Vers: 6 (J Ahrens 5, B McEldowney).
Free throws: Urb: 15-19; Vers: 7-11.
Urb 16 15 14 9 54
Vers 21 18 16 12 67