CELINA — A young and inexperienced Versailles boys basketball squad struggled with the Celina Bulldogs after a strong start in the team’s 53-43 season opening loss.
“We just have one guy coming back with any varsity experience from a team that won 20-plus games,” Versailles coach Travis Swank said. “We are all learning and we will all continue to get better.”
Versailles jumped out to an 11-3 lead at 4:04 in the opening period and closed out the first quarter play with a 15-10 advantage.
“We started off well,” Swank noted. “It was good to see especially from an inexperienced team.”
The Bulldogs battled back to take the second quarter 15-9 and go to the halftime break with a one point 25-24 lead.
“Troy Jones really lifted us up tonight,” Swank said. “He went out in the first half with some foul trouble and the wheels kind of fell off for us.”
The third quarter mirrored the second frame with Celina once again taking the quarter by a 15-9 score pushing its lead to 40-33 with one period to play.
“We have guys that need to learn and they need to get better in a hurry, but we knew that coming in that it was going to be this way,” Swank stated. “I am not going to fault our kid’s toughness and determination. We just have to execute a little bit better and that is going to come with time in the experience department at the varsity level.”
The Bulldogs extended their lead to 48-35 with 4:28 on the fourth quarter board before Versailles hustled its way back to trail by five. Celina outscore the Tigers by five over the final minutes to earn the 10 point nonconference win.
“Our kids battled the whole time,” Swank said. “We got down as many as 10-12 late in the game and we cut it down to five. We had the ball with around two minutes left to go and just couldn’t finish it off and sometimes that happens with an inexperienced team.”
Jones led Versailles with 13 points while Jaydon Litten scored nine and Eli McEldowney scored eight.
“Troy knocked down some shots,” Swank said. “He has learned his craft at the JV level. He’s been behind a really good point guard in Michael Stammen for a long time. Now it’s his time to shine a little bit and he was able to go out there and do what we expect out of our point guard. We would like some other guys to step up and help him out because if they do, we’re going to be a tough out for a lot of people.”
Celina sophomore Josh Rasawehr led all scorers with a game high 22 points.
Contact Greenville Daily Advocate sports editor Gaylen Blosser at [email protected] or (937) 569-0122.