CLAYTON — Versailles took an 11-14 record into a Division III district title game and came away with a 62-51 win over Cincinnati Mariemont to earn a regional berth.
“Our kids played really well against a nice team,” Versailles coach Travis Swank said. “Mariemont has a lot of length and shoots the ball really well.
“Defense and easy shots are what’s going to win you district titles. We did enough good things on the defensive end and then we got a lot of easy ones in transition on them as well.”
The Tigers advanced to face Springfield Shawnee in a regional semifinal on Wednesday at Vandalia-Butler.
Versailles junior Jaydon Litten hit back-to-back long range 3-pointers to open the Tigers scoring and added a two-point bucket to lead Versailles to a 12-9 advantage with one period in the book.
“Jaydon played really well,” Swank saod. “For us to come out hot on the offensive end was key — it was good to see our stuff working.”
The Tigers used a 9-3 scoring run to open second quarter play extending its lead to 21-12 at 4:35 only to have the Warriors battle back with seven unanswered points to trail 21-19 with 1:15 on the second quarter clock.
Versailles closed out first half play with three Troy Jones points by way of an old fashioned three-point play to play two-points better in the second taking the quarter 17-15 with Litten burying his third and fourth triples of the game for six points and Connor Stonebraker adding six points sending the teams to the break with Tigers holding a 29-24 advantage.
“Connor played really well,” Swank said of his 6-5 sophomore. “The Maiafa kid (6-7 junior) is very strong in there so he presented Connor a different problem than he has seen in the past. Connor played really well and he is only going to continue to get better.”
The Tigers added a single point to its halftime lead after three periods of play with Jared DeMange good for seven points including a trey sending the teams to the final period of play with Versailles holding a 43-37 lead.
“Two seniors (Jared DeMange and Troy Jones) that are stepping up in prime situations and they did what we expected of them,” Swank said. “I know they haven’t had a lot of opportunities playing in these tournament type atmospheres in the past but this tournament run they have done a heck of a job for us.”
The fourth quarter went to the Tigers 19-14 led by 11 DeMange points by way of three baskets and 5-of-6 shooting at the free throw line. Stonebraker added six points in the closing quarter including 2-of-2 at the line.
“We didn’t just want to settle for free throws but we were willing to take them if they were going to foul us,” Swank said. “We spread them out and got some wide open layups there in the end. The kids kept their heads up, the kids kept on cutting and we weren’t going to be complacent with just free throws — we were going to try to end it with some easy two’s.”
Swank talked about the Tigers’ 2020-2021 season.
“Kudos to our kids,” he said. “They believe in what we have been preaching to them all year. Things didn’t look very good midway point of the season but our kids never gave up and still believed in themselves, their teammates and the coaches. We are playing well right now so that is all that matters — to play well here in the tournament and hopefully we can continue on.”
“A lot of these guys were inexperienced coming into the year. Eli McEldowney, even though he got a varsity letter last year didn’t play a whole lot so these guys were learning on the fly out there – how to play at the varsity level. At the beginning it wasn’t good, the results weren’t good but the kids kept on believing in themselves and kept on practicing hard every day. That is what you need to do,”
“Just keep on grinding, keep on improving and they are really showing what that does. The hard work has paid off for them here with a District Championship.”
Jared DeMange led Versailles and all scorers with a game-high 22 points. With the win Versailles improves to 12-14 on the season.
• Boys basketball
New Bremen 47, St. Henry 41
The Cardinals outscored Midwest Athletic Conference rival St. Henry 16-3 in the third quarter to run away and earn a Division IV district title on Friday at Wapakoneta High School.
The Redskins took a 13-2 lead by the end of the first quarter but New Bremen used a 17-8 scoring edge in the second to pull within 21-19 before halftime. The squad then kept their big run going in the third quarter.
David Homan led New Bremen with 16 points, six rebounds and three steals. Nick Alig scored 12 points and Reece Busse scored 10.
New Bremen shot 17 for 40 (43 percent) from the floor and outrebounded the Redskins 30-26.
The Cardinals advanced to face Antwerp in a D-IV regional semifinal on Tuesday at Van Wert High School.
Contact Greenville Daily Advocate sports editor Gaylen Blosser at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 569-0122.