VERSAILLES – The Versailles Tigers overcame a slow start while taking advantage of 36 Justin Ahrens points including his 1,000th career point to defeat the visiting Franklin Monroe Jets in a Saturday night 73-56 non-conference win.
“A lot of offensive firepower out there tonight,” said Versailles Coach Travis Swank. “A lot of good things to say about FM’s program and how hard they played tonight.”
“Tonight we lost but I’m going to lose with guys like that,” Jets Coach Troy Myers said. “This is a group I’ll lose with and I’m proud of them.”
Junstin Ahrens, a junior who has verbally committed to play basketball for The Ohio State University used back-to-back free throws with 3:39 on the fourth quarter clock giving him 34 points on the night, 1,000 career points and a standing ovation from both sides of the court before closing out the night as the game’s leading scorer with 36 points.
“He deserves it,” Swank said of the standing ovation for J. Ahrens. “He’s been in the gym since he’s been out of the crib. He’s always got a ball in his hand and he works on his craft all the time. It’s a testament to his hard work and dedication to the game.”
The game saw two Franklin Monroe graduates going head to head on their respective benches with Troy Myers coaching the Jets and Travis Swank coaching the Versailles Tigers. A third FM alumni coaching a Darke County varsity boys basketball team is Arcanum Trojans Marcus Bixler.
The Jets took the opening period by a 14-12 score getting six point from 6’9” Kameron Thurmond and five points from Ethan Conly.”
“I don’t think the first quarter we did a real good job of matching up,” said Versailles Coach Travis Swank. “They came out fired up ready to beat us and we just kinda threw the ball around…real lazy with the ball at times. I think we are better than what we showed here tonight even though we put up 73.”
“I told our kids coming up here whoever is more prepared is going to set the tone,” FM Coach Troy Myers stated. “I really feel like we set the tone.”
Versailles took advantage of 12 Justin Ahrens second period points to outscore the visitors 23-11 and take a 35-25 lead to the halftime break.
FM battled back with 18 third quarter points with brothers, Ethan and Mason Coley combining for 13 points only to have Versailles add a point to its lead with twin brothers AJ and Justin Ahrens adding a combined 15 third period points sending the teams to the final period of play with the Tigers up 54-43.
The fourth period saw each team’s leading scorer on the night put nine points apiece in the book for their teams; the Jets 6’1’ sophomore Ethan Conley with a trey, two buckets and 2-2 at the line while the Tigers 6’6” junior Justin Ahrens was burying a three-pointer, a basket and nailing 4-4 at the line to give the home team the 73-56 victory.
“Ethan (Conely)…he’s a load,” said Myers. “I love coaching him, not just because he can score. Justin (Ahrens) had 36 tonight. I don’t know what else you can do. You can run guys at him, you can do junk defense but that kid can play. There’s a reason why he probably signed before his junior year. He had a heck of a night.”
“We didn’t quit match their intensity and play as good as what we are capable of,” Swank noted. “They posed some matchup problems with their size and Conley’s athleticism. We made the adjustments we needed and came out with a victory.”
Versailles was an impressive 93 percent from the line sinking 14-of-15 free throws. FM went 10-14 good for 71 percent free throw shooting.
Justin Ahrens led Versailles and all scorers in the game with 36 points including a perfect 6-6 at the line while Ethan Conley paced the Jets with 28 points.
TIGERS 73, JETS 56
VERSAILLES – J. Ahrens 12 6-6 36, AJ Ahrens 4 4-5 12, A. Wendel 3 2-2 11, A. Knapke 1 2-2 10, K. McEldowney 1 0-0 2, C. Custenborder 1 0-0 2, THREE POINTERS 5, (J. Ahrens 2, A. Knapke 2, A. Wendel 1) – TOTALS 22 14-15 5 73
FRANKLIN MONROE – E. Conley 6 4-7 28, K. Thurmond 3 4-4 10, M. Conley 1 0-1 8, P. Hesler 0 0-0 6, K. Ressler 1 2-2 4, THREE POINTERS 8 (E. Conley 4, M. Conley 2, P. Hesler 2) – TOTALS 11 10-14 8 56
SCORE by QUARTERS:
12-23-19-19 73 Versailles
14-11-18-13 56 Franklin Monroe
PHOTO CAPTION: Justin Ahrens throws down one of his four dunks on the night for Versailles in win over Franklin Monroe (Gaylen Blosser photos)