SPRINGFIELD – The Versailles Lady Tigers basketball team punched its ticket to the girls’ final-four in Columbus with a 41-24 win over previously unbeaten (27-0) Summit Country Day Silver Knights in the Division III Regional championship game.
“I knew we could beat this team,” said Versailles Coach Jacki Stonebraker. “I knew even though on paper they were 27-0 and didn’t have any losses … they have a superb freshman that got Southwest player of the year their coach was coach of the year, I knew we were a better team.”
“I knew if we got the ball inside and drilled it into them that we could do it,” continued Stonebraker. “When you know you’re the better team, that’s when you really want to win.”
Summit Country Day came into the game scoring at a 61.6 clip while holding the opposition to 31.2 points per game in five tournament wins while Versailles was putting up 69.2 points per contest and limiting its opponents to 30.2 points per tournament game.
The Lady Knights hit one-of-two free throws to take a game opening 1-0 lead at 7:22 before a Taylor Winner 4-foot jumper in the paint and a Lauren Bruns steal and full-court layup gave the Lady Tigers a 4-1 advantage.
Bruns drilled a three-pointer from the wing answering a Silver Knights’ layup to give Versailles a 7-3 lead at 3:06 in the first.
A Country Day basket and a Bruns free throw had the Tigers up 8-5 before back-to-back Silver Knights’ free throws closed out the first quarter with Versailles holding a slim one-point 8-9 advantage.
A second-quarter opening layup gave the Lady Knights a 9-8 lead, their second a final lead of the contest with 7:03 on the clock.
Two missed Lady Tigers’ free throws brought a 30-second timeout from the Versailles bench with 5:31 showing.
Versailles’ 6-foot 1-inch freshman Danielle Winner gave the Lady Tigers a 10-9 lead with the team’s opening second quarter points at 4:43 and a lead that would hold until the game’s final buzzer.
“We have been working in practice with her (Danielle Winner) the last couple of days … actually all year,” stated Stonebraker. “She’s a freshman. She just goes with the flow.”
“She plays like she normally does,” added Stonebraker. “She’s not going to get nervous. It’s just another game for her. She stepped up and put great defense on 34 inside.”
A Taylor Winner basket and a Knights free throw had the board showing a 12-10 score.
“Taylor (Winner) is mentally and physically tough,” said Stonebraker. “You can’t coach that, you can’t teach that. That is just the attitude that she has.”
The Lady Tigers used the final 3:03 of the first half to score nine-unanswered points including a trey each from Kami McEldowney and Camille Watren to lead 21-10 at the break.
Seven Lady Tigers’ unanswered points greeted the Lady Knight in period No. 3 pushing Versailles’ lead to 28-10 with 4:28 on the clock.
Country Day answered with a 7-0 run of its own to cut Versailles’ lead to 28-17 before a Christa Puthoff basket sent the teams to the final period of play with the Lady Tigers leading 30-17.
“They (Summit) are streaky. They can go on streak,” Stonebraker said. “They can shoot the three, they just couldn’t get any shots off. They really didn’t make anything from the outside and that really worked in our favor.”
The Lady Tigers improved their 2014-15 season record to 24-4 with the win.
“These girls are smart ballplayers and that is why we are so successful,” said Stonebraker.
Bruns led Versailles in scoring with 12-points followed by T. Winner with 11-points.
“I don’t know anything about them (Doylestown),” Stonebraker states. “I know they are undefeated, they are No. 1 in the state, so we have nothing to lose right now.”
Versailles will face Doylestown Chippewa, the No. 1 ranked Division III girls team in the state semi-final game at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 19 at Value City Arena at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus. Click here to order tickets online at ticketmaster.com
LADY TIGERS 41 – LADY SILVER KNIGHTS 24
VERSAILLES – L. Bruns 2-5-12, T. Winner 4-3-11, K. McEldowney 1-2-7, C. Watren 0-0-3, S. Hyre 1-0-2, D. Winner 1-0-2, L. Monnin 1-0-2, C. Puthoff 1-0-2, 3-POINTERS 3 (McEldowney 1, Watren 1, Bruns 1) – TOTALS: 11-10-41
SUMMIT COUNTRY DAY – M. Campbell 1-1-6, K. Barnard 2-1-5, N. Woods 1-2-4, A. Harris 0-1-4, R. Alexander 2-0-4, G. Gehner 0-1-1, 3-POINTERS 2 (Campbell 1, Harris 1) – TOTALS: 6-6-24
SCORE by QUARTERS: 8-13-9-11 Versailles – 7-3-7-7 Summit Country Day