VERSAILLES — Versailles picked up two wins during the weekend to improve to 3-0 overall.
The Tigers beat Covington 60-46 on Saturday in a nonconference road game. Ohio State recruit Justin Ahrens had a game-high 21 points and a monster dunk in the process, but it was the likes of Keaton McEldowney and AJ Ahrens who hurt the Buccaneers the most with a combined 27 points.
Ahrens had eight points in the first half but scored two 3-pointers lead spark a 15-3 run by the Tigers in the third quarter.
A dominating defensive effort led Versailles to a 48-30 victory against Delphos St. John’s in a Midwest Athletic Conference opener on Friday. Versailles held St. John’s, a state semifinalist in last season in Division IV, to nine points in the first half Friday night.
“Our hands were just everywhere,” Versailles coach Travis Swank said after Friday’s game. “We made a lot of deflections, we got a lot of loose balls, it felt like a lot of steals and that’s what we need to bring. Defense can’t take off during games. Offense sometimes is not always going to be there, and it really wasn’t tonight. We had some good spurts here and there, but you know we were forcing some stuff on offense. But defense has to be lights out all the time.”
Versailles led throughout and took a quick 6-0 lead with baskets by AJ Ahrens and Keaton McEldowney and then a big dunk by Justin Ahrens. St. John’s was only able to score four points the entire quarter off one basket and a pair of free throws.
“A lot of energy, a lot of effort,” Swank said. “I don’t know how many deflections we had in the first quarter and throughout the whole game, but it sure did feel like a lot.”
Versailles’ defensive dominance continued into the second quarter as the Tigers held St. John’s to just five points and picked up the offensive tempo and scored 19 to go into halftime leading 29-9.
Justin Ahrens, who finished the night with five assists, drew a lot of defensive pressure to set up his teammates for easy baskets.
“Teams are going to concentrate on Justin,” Swank said. “We do know that coming into games. Our guys are ready to move and cut off of that. As you saw, he had sometimes three, four guys collapse on him, and our guys were just back cutting in behind them from where they were coming and getting layups. So we had 24 points, I think, off of layups in the first half.”
AJ Ahrens led Versailles with a game-high 15 points on Friday.
“He’s gotta be a force on both ends of the floor for us this year, even more than what he was last year,” Swank said. “He does so many good things for us. He can guard so many different positions because he’s quick enough to guard a guard and he’s big enough and strong enough to take a post player.”
Justin Ahrens scored 14 points and McEldowney scored seven.
Kyle Shaner is the sports editor of the Greenville Daily Advocate. Shaner may be reached at (937) 569-4316 or on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate.