VERSAILLES — Vandalia-Butler came away with a thrilling 74-69 victory in double overtime in a nonconference game on Tuesday.
Versailles standout Justin Ahrens, an Ohio State commit, led all scorers with 41 points, but the Tigers struggled to contain Butler’s balanced attack.
Four Butler players scored in double figures, led by Kort Justice with 25 points. Braedon Norman had 19, Michael Kreill 14, and Bryant Johnson had 13 — and perhaps the game’s biggest basket.
After taking a timeout with 4.1 seconds left in regulation, Justice penetrated the Tiger defense and found Johnson on the left block for an easy basket at the buzzer to send the game in overtime.
Butler jumped out to an early lead in overtime, but the Tigers retook the lead with 1:02 in overtime on a pair of free throws by Ahrens.
Justice made the biggest play of the game 30 seconds later as he took a charge from Ahrens, which was his fifth foul. This time it was Versailles that tied the game late when Keaton McEldowney hit two free throws to send the game to a second extra period.
The Tigers scored first in overtime, but the Aviators then scored nine unanswered points by Justice and Norman to close out the game.
Both teams got off to a slow start as the Aviators led 7-6 after a quarter.
Ahrens was just getting warmed up, however, and he scored 14 points in the second quarter as the Tigers built a 26-16 lead. Norman and Justice scored two baskets late, and Butler held Versailles scoreless over the last 1:40 of the half to trail just 26-20.
Things couldn’t start off worse for Butler in the third quarter as a pair of missed layups led to quick baskets on the other end, and Versailles built its largest lead of the game at 32-20. However, the Aviators climbed back with a 19-9 run over the final six minutes of the quarter to close the gap to 2 at 41-39.
The final quarter was back-and-forth with the Aviators taking their first lead since the first quarter on a 3-pointer by Norman. Justin Ahrens answered with a 3 of his own, but Norman answered again and Butler had its largest lead of the game to that point at 47-44.
An 8-2 run put the Tigers back on top 52-49, and it looked bleak for the visitors when Versailles took a 55-51 lead with 1:45 to play. Kreill changed things with a basket followed by a steal for an assist to Justice as the Aviators tied it at 55-55. A basket by the Tigers set up Justice’s pass to Johnson that sent the game to overtime.
The win lifted Butler to 17-2 on the season while Versailles dropped to 16-2. The Aviators are in first place in Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division play with a 10-2 record, while Sidney (13-6) is second at 9-3. The squads will face off in Vandalia next Tuesday.
Versailles will return to action on Friday in a Midwest Athletic Conference game at St. Henry.