Monday, November 27th, 2006
By Mark Ruschau
Versailles defeats Celina in OVISCO tournament finals
The Versailles Tigers used a big first quarter and great free-throw shooting, especially down the stretch, to hold off the Celina Bulldogs 37-29 Saturday night in the championship game of the 21st annual OVISCO Classic at the Fieldhouse.
Versailles came out quickly and took command of the game as it outscored Celina 14-4 in the opening quarter.
Versailles had its best offensive period of the evening as it was able to connect on 6-of-15 shots from the floor. Justine Raterman and Melissa Heft each had six points in the opening period to pace the Tiger offense.
The Versailles offense was strong in the opening period, but it was the Tiger defense that was the key to great start by the Orange and Black. Celina was held without a field goal for the first 7:53 of the game and was held without a point for the first 6:09 in the period as Celina hit just one of eight shots from the floor in the first quarter.
"Our defense was a huge difference tonight," said Versailles coach Jacki Stonebraker. "Our offense struggled some tonight, but I'm not worried about it, I think it will come along as we play more games."
"I was really happy with the way we played defense tonight but the offense has a way to go," said Celina coach Brian Stetler. "The defense kept us in the ball game and gave the offense a lot of chances that we just let get away."
Celina used a great defensive effort the rest of the way to crawl back in the game but turnovers at inopportune times kept the Bulldogs from ever taking the lead. In the final three periods, Celina held Versailles to five field goals but the Bulldogs were able to hit on just six field goals of their own while turning the ball over nine times in the final three periods.
Trailing 30-25 with 4:18 to go after two Liz Homan free throws, the Bulldogs forced turnovers on back-to-back possessions by Versailles and closed to within three points at 30-27 with 3:21 on two Betsy Hone free throws.
A free toss by Versailles' Emily Bohman made the score 31-27 with 1:18 left. After Bohman's free throw, Celina would score its last points of the game on a lay-in by Homan to make the score 31-29 with 65 seconds left.
Two free tosses by Raterman gave Versailles a 33-29 advantage with :56 second left and Celina sealed its own fate as it threw the ball away on its next trip which led to two free throws by the Tigers' Megan Shardo.
After a missed three-point try by the Dogs' Kelsey Waterman, Heft finished the scoring with two free throws.
In the final 2:40, Versailles hit on seven-of-eight free throws and for the game, the Tigers hit on 15-of-19 from the charity stripe.
"Free-throw shooting is something that we stress and the girls just showed poise down the stretch hitting those free throws under pressure," said Stonebraker. "Melissa Heft really stepped up for us tonight. She's a four-year starter and she gave a true senior performance with 13 points and 10 rebounds."
In addition to Heft's 13 points, Justine Raterman chipped in with 11 while Homan was the only Bulldog in double figures with 11.
"The girls really hung in there tonight, even though they could not throw the ball in the ocean," said Stetler. "One of our big focuses has been taking care of the basketball and we just did not take care of the ball at crucial times in the game."
In the consolation game, Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy used a big first period to rout Columbus Linden McKinley, 71-47. The Eagles outscored the Panthers 22-4 in the opening eight minutes en route to the win.
Courtney Kust paced the Eagles with a game-high 23 points.
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