VERSAILLES – Sophomore Eric Boykin’s 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds remaining dashed the hopes of the Versailles Tigers for a second straight overtime game and gave the Chaminade Julienne Eagles the championship of the Versailles Holiday Tournament Wednesday night, 69-66.
Chaminade, a Division II school in basketball, opened the fourth quarter at full throttle offensively. The Eagles went on a 10-2 blitz that gave them a 59-49 lead with 5:55 remaining in the game.
The Tigers showed no signs of surrender and began to claw their way back in the game. To even hamper their efforts further, Justin Ahrens picked up his fourth personal foul and was forced to the bench for a period of time and would be used on just offense mainly for the remainder of the game.
Senior Brett McEldowney used his leadership and experience to lead the comeback, scoring nine points in the period, and Austin Knapke contributed six points in the fourth quarter.
Versailles trailed 64-59 with 1:22 remaining. Justin Ahrens knocked down a triple at 1:09 for a 64-62 score.
The Tigers got one their biggest defensive stops of the night the next trip down. They ran their offense and when an open look presented itself to Brett McEldowney, he drilled it home to give Versailles the lead, 65-64.
The Eagles quickly countered with a basket of their own to regain the lead with 23.6 seconds left, 66-65. After the Tigers final timeout Justin Ahrens was fouled on a drive with 16.6 remaining. He made one of two free throws to tie the game at 66 before Boykin launched his game-ending shot.
The game opened with Versailles in a 2-3 zone while CJ played a tight man-to-man defense. The quarter was mostly a time of feeling each other out and getting used to the officiating as the teams combined for 10 of 11 from the free throw line for the period. CJ 6-foot 4-junior Miles Joiner worked inside for the Eagles, scoring eight of his team-high 17 points. Chaminade Julienne would lead 20-14 after one quarter.
Each team defensively did a good job in the second period, holding these high powered offenses to just 12 and 13 points each. The Eagles looked to penetrate against the Versailles zone for chances in the paint while the Tigers ran their motion offense looking for open opportunities against CJ. After 16 minutes the Eagles took a 32-27 lead to the locker room.
Versailles boys basketball coach Scott McEldowney made a slight adjustment to his zone for the second half that paid immediate dividends. He shifted into a 2-1-2 zone to have a man waiting for the penetrating guard should he get past the initial defender.
“We at times were able at times to put a little defensive pressure on without getting burnt too bad,” Coach McEldowney said. “He kept wanting to pull out with the lead like that. I knew we needed more possessions to win this game. We tried some zone trap in the half court … half-court trap and had some success with it. We need to continue to work on something we can go to.”
The third quarter saw the teams struggle with each other. Neither team would lead by more than four points. Each team connected on three triples and paved the way for the exciting finish.
Coach McEldowney talked about his team’s great effort and how there’s more than just scoring to making a good team.
“These are great examples of this team as well as a lot of others,” he said, referring to Knapke and Alex Wendel. “This is a good basketball team, that we are a team seven or eight deep. Got some good players who could step in on JV and not be out of place. We feel pretty fortunate.”
Justin Ahrens led all scorers with 26, Brett McEldowney 16, and Knapke and Wendel each had nine for Versailles. Four Eagles scored in double figures.
Versailles has had an excellent start to its season despite the loss dropping its record to 8-2. CJ will begin the new year at 9-1.
All-tournament team honors went to Cody Flesher of Anna, Damien Mackesy of Miam East, Justin Ahrens of Versailles and Eric Boykin and Miles Joiner of Chaminade Julienne.
Chaminade Julienne- 69
Montague 11, Joiner 17, Young 6, Freeman 2, Watkins 8, Boykin 12, Barnes 2, Gage 11.
Knapke 9, K McEldowney 4, Wendel 9, J Ahrens 26, B McEldowney 16, Custenborder 2.
3-pointers: C-J: 8 (Boykin 3, Gage 3, Young 2); Vers: 6 (J Ahrens 4, Wendel, B McEldowney).
Free throws: C-J: 11-18; Vers: 20-24.