VANDALIA — Versailles rallied but couldn’t complete a comeback in a Division III regional semifinal on Wednesday. The Tigers lost 58-55 to Springfield Shawnee at Vandalia-Butler’s Student Activity Center.
“There are not a lot of 12-15 teams that get to this point in the year,” Versailles coach Travis Swank said. “This game kind of encapsulates what our team is about — a lot of heart, a lot of desire, not giving up.
“That is a great message for our kids, our community, even other people that follow the game. Our kids just never gave up and continued to fight to get better.”
In his fifth season at the helm, Swank has taken his teams to a district final a record of five consecutive years, winning three titles.
“Some people decide to take off or not work to get better and that’s not what we are about,” Swank said. “That is a great message for not only basketball programs but for people in general to hear. You have to keep on fighting, keep on digging to get yourself to where you want to be and we got ourselves pretty far here in tournaments. It’s not where we want to be but I am proud of the effort that we put into this.”
Shawnee jumped out to an early 10-4 first quarter lead with 5:00 showing on the clock and closed out first quarter play leading the Tigers 15-10.
Versailles battled back to take the second quarter by a 10-9 score sending the teams to the break with the Tigers trailing 24-20 but not before Versailles would make it a one-point game at 19-18 with 3:30 in the quarter.
Shawnee bumped its lead up to 39-31 after three periods of play taking the quarter by a 15-11 score sending the teams to the final period of play.
The Braves took a 13-point lead at 44-31 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter but Versailles refused to fold, battling back to close within a single point at 56-55 with 16 seconds left.
Shawnee survived the Tigers scare closing out with a basket to earn three-point victory win.
Five Versailles seniors played their final basketball game: Jared DeMange, Wesley Bruns, Troy Jones, Caleb Heitkamp and Jacob Litten.
“There were a lot of guys that didn’t get a lot of time but were great teammates along the way — and that doesn’t always happen,” Swank saod. “There are a lot of teams if that happens the locker room is divided or it’s just not fun to be at practice. That never happened once and when you’re losing on top of it like we were at the beginning of the year, that can really happen quickly and it never did, so that is a testament to our seniors.
“We try to be hard-nosed tough kids and that is what we are,” Swank said. “Hopefully one day that toughness and hard nose is going to propel us to get out of this regional semi-final round and advance us to a regional final game. Hopefully after that point and time we can stamp our ticket to a final four but we have to go back to work. People that work hard and are tough minded — they just don’t sit here and sulk in the misery of this loss here tonight. They go out and go to work the next day.”
Jaydon Litten led the squad with 14 points with Noah McEldowney scored 13 and Connor Stonebraker scored 10. Jones added nine.
• Boys basketball
New Bremen 51, Antwerp 43 OT
New Bremen outscored Antwerp 8-0 in overtime to oust the Archers in a Division IV regional semifinal on Tuesday in Van Wert.
The Cardinals improve to 19-8. Antwerp ends its year with a 23-2 mark.
New Bremen took a 21-8 lead by the end of the first quarter before the Archers used a 14-5 scoring edge in the second and 10-7 edge in the third to get back in it.
Antwerp took a 43-40 lead late before Trevor Bergman hit a late 3-pointer to tie it.
Reece Bussee scored 16 points while Bergman scored 13. David Homan scored eight points and had four rebounds and four steals. Daniel Homan and Nick Alig each scored seven.
New Bremen shot 16 for 37 (43 percent) from the floor while Antwerp shot 14 for 44 (32 percent). The Cardinals were outrebounded 34-22 but the Archers had 17 turnovers to New Bremen’s nine.
Contact Darke County Media sports editor Gaylen Blosser at email@example.com or 937-569-0122.