VERSAILLES — Less than three weeks after they battled for a state championship in volleyball, Versailles and Coldwater competed again with the Tigers once more coming away victorious, defeating the Cavaliers 58-41 in a conference basketball game.
More than half of the girls who played in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III state championship volleyball match took the floor for Thursday’s Midwest Athletic Conference basketball game. The game featured seven of the 10 Tigers who contributed to Versailles’ state championship victory, including all five of the team’s starters in Thursday’s conference opener.
Unlike the matchup in volleyball that was a closely contested affair that took five sets to decide, Thursday’s contest was much more one-sided.
Versailles never trailed in Thursday’s game. Danielle Winner scored the night’s first points then Kami McEldowney quickly added five to put the Tigers up 7-2.
From there Versailles’ trio of forwards – Danielle Winner, Lindsey Winner and Elizabeth Ording – took control.
“I thought we rebounded the ball extremely well defensively and offensively,” Versailles girls basketball coach Jacki Stonebraker said. “We boxed out, we concentrated on it, we went and got the ball, especially in the first half we kind of set the tone on the boards.”
With the dominate play inside, it took less than four minutes for Versailles to build a double-digit lead. At the end of the opening quarter the Tigers led 19-11.
In the second quarter, Versailles’ defense took over. The Tigers held the Cavaliers, who were without starting point guard Maura Hoying, scoreless for almost six minutes of game action and increased their advantage to 30-14. At halftime the home team held a comfortable 35-17 advantage.
“I thought our defense was pretty good in the first quarter, but we just didn’t get our hands up on defense so we adjusted that a little bit and forced that during the second quarter,” Stonebraker said.
Down by 18, Coldwater didn’t fold and began the battle its way back into the game. The Cavaliers outscored the Tigers 16-12 in the third quarter, but Versailles still held a 47-33 lead.
“A MAC team is going to do that,” Stonebraker said. “You can never count out a MAC team in any quarter, especially the third quarter. You know you preach it all the time during the halftime — they’re not going to die, they not going to die — but until they get to that situation, you know, that’s just something that we just have to practice. That’s why I love the MAC so much is because we can continue to get these games where teams just keep pushing back and never die.”
Danielle Winner took over in the fourth quarter, scoring the Tigers’ first 11 points of the period, to squelch any thoughts of a Coldwater comeback.
Danielle Winner led Versailles with a game-high 23 points and Kami McEldowney scored nine.
“We have a lot of different weapons that we can throw in at any time,” Stonebraker said. “It’s just a matter of who’s on that night or who’s feeling good and who’s playing well.”
Kourtney Diller led Coldwater with 17 points on Thursday, while Lauren Gilliland added 11.
Versailles improved to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the MAC with Thursday’s win while Coldwater fell to 1-1 overall and 0-1 in the MAC.
While the Tigers are playing well overall, Stonebraker said some things can be improved.
“Still not passing very well,” Stonebraker said. “Our passes are there, like we’re seeing the open girl, but our passes just aren’t getting received to the open girl. We’re just sloppy with the passes.”
Versailles will return to action at 1 p.m. Saturday with a home game against Covington. During the game the Tigers will honor their 2008 state championship girls basketball team.
“It will be 10 years this year, this March, since we won our first state championship,” Stonebraker said. “… It will be nice to have them all there.”
Kyle Shaner is the sports editor of the Greenville Daily Advocate. Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316.