COVINGTON — It may have not been a typical start for the Versailles girls basketball team in a Division III sectional tournament opener with Urbana on Thursday night at Covington High School.
But, it didn’t really matter, either.
The Tigers made just three of their first 19 shots before finding their rhythm and coasting to a 70-21 win over Urbana, with most of the second half being played with a running clock.
Versailles (18-5), which is the sectional’s No. 4 seed, will return to Covington next Thursday at 6 p.m. to play No. 20 seed Northeastern (0-20).
Urbana, which was the 16th seed, closes the season at 5-18.
“I don’t know if it was tournament jitters,” Versailles coach Jacki Stonebraker said. “Or it was just that we were so hyped up. I think it just took us a little while to find our rhythm.”
And despite the early cold shooting — which included the Tigers missing their first seven free throw attempts —Versailles still led 8-0 on two 3-pointers by Caitlin McEldowney and a basket by Lindsey Winner.
“We were doing a great job in our half-court defense,” Stonebraker said.
Once Versailles got going offensively, there was no slowing them down.
McEldowney hit another three, Caitlyn Luthman had a steal and a layup and Brooke Stonebraker hit a jumper in short procession to make it 15-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The margin reached 24-0 early in the second quarter before Alaina Lyons hit a couple of 3-pointers for Urbana to get the Hillclimbers on the board.
The Versailles advantage increased to 38-12 at halftime and 57-18 after three quarters.
The Tigers, which finished as D-III state runner-ups last year, used a balanced attack as 10 of the 14 players who played scored.
McEldowney was on fire all night, hitting six 3-pointers and scoring 20 points, while Kelsey Custenborder had 10 points and eight rebounds and Lindsey Winner had 10 points and five rebounds.
Savannah Toner scored nine points, Stonebraker had eight points and six rebounds and Luthman pulled down five rebounds.
Lyons led Urbana with nine points, while Samantha Rooney scored six points.
Versailles was 29-of-60 from the floor for 48 percent and 5-of-14 from the line for 36 percent. Urbana was 8-of-34 from the floor for 24 percent and made both of its free throw attempts.
Versailles won the battle of the boards 32-9 and had 11 turnovers to Urbana’s 14.
And now it is on to the second round for the Tigers.
“It is always good to get that first tournament win,” Stonebraker said. “We have lost that first game before and that is a horrible feeling.”
Which is something they didn’t have to worry about Thursday, despite the slow start.
Reach Rob Kiser at (937) 451-3336.