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Friday, December 8th, 2006

Fort Recovery prevails in battle of unbeatens

By Gary R. Rasberry

Fort Recovery's Vicki Roessner, left, and Versailles' Megan Shardo, right, battl. . .

FORT RECOVERY - The first big Midwest Athletic Conference matchup of the season pitted two unbeaten teams that had easy times of things in their first three games.
Fort Recovery got the hot hand early, saw Versailles get a hot streak of its own, then the Indians got hot again when they needed to getting a 47-38 win over the Tigers at Fort Site Fieldhouse on Thursday night.
The Indians improve to 4-0 on the season as the Tigers drop to 3-1.
The matchup featured two very good defensive teams and both coaches realized it following the contest.
"Both teams played solid defense," said Fort Recovery coach Jeff Roessner. "Typical MAC game."
"You can call it ugly, but it's two defensive teams going hard at it," said Versailles coach Jacki Stonebreaker. "Like I told the girls in the locker room, it's hard to play four road games in a row, (but) it's no excuse how we came out and played tonight."
At the start, Fort Recovery looked to pull away, going on a 9-0 run after Versailles scored the first basket. The Indians went up 11-4 with 20 seconds left in the quarter, then hit a cold spell as the second quarter started, not scoring again until a Holly Stein jumper with 3:09 left in the first half.
That gave Versailles a spark as powerhouse post player Justine Raterman, 0-of-3 to start the game hit three straight baskets to start the second quarter. After a flurry of turnovers on both sides, Raterman sank her fourth bucket of the quarter to put the Tigers up 12-11.
The tight game continued and Anne Koester's bucket with 54 seconds left allowed the Indians to go into halftime up 17-15.
Things picked up again for the Indians midway through the third quarter. After Abby Niekamp scored to make it 19-15, Stein drove the lane and was fouled as the ball went through the hoop.
The three-point play was completed by Stein and Versailles' Megan Shardo scored to break the streak, but things continued to flow toward the Indians. Joanna Snyder had a bucket and a pair of free throws and Sam Staugler's three-pointer with 2:36 left in the quarter made it 29-19, prompting Stonebreaker to call a timeout.
"We knew what we had to do," said Stonebreaker. "We just couldn't get the easy shots we thought we could get against them. They got easier shots at the basket than we got."
Versailles cut the Indians' lead to five points at 29-24 going into the final stanza behind a Raterman three-point play and a Stacey Reed deuce.
The Tigers quickly tied it at 29-all in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter. Raterman hit a pair of free throws and Emily Bohman nailed a three with 6:18 to go to tie it.
Fort Recovery got the lead back for good 15 seconds later with a Vicki Roessner bucket. After Versailles cut it to 31-30, the Indians went on a 7-0 run, a Snyder three and four Stein free throws, pushed the Indians' lead to 38-30 with 4:40 left to play.
The Tigers could not get any closer than six points the rest of the way as the Indians hit seven of its final 12 free throws down the stretch to get the win.
The Indians shot nearly 40 percent from the floor - compared to just 32 percent for Versailles, but the Tigers forced 20 Indian turnovers.
"This is the kind of team that won't let you do what you want all the time," said coach Roessner about Versailles. "We weren't very patient at times offensively.
"We had way too many turnovers, but you have to give their defense credit. We shot 40 percent for the game, which is good for us. We held them to 31 percent, which is a good situation."
The Indians dominated the boards in outrebounding Versailles 29-18 as Niekamp had seven boards with Joanna Snyder adding five caroms.
"We're not used to that," said Stonebreaker of the rebounding disadvantage. "We're used to out-jumping people. We preached to them all week 'You have to box out.' "
Stein paced the Indians with 14 points and Snyder added nine with Roessner contributing eight. Raterman was the only Tiger in double figures with a game-high 17 points.
"At the end of the game, I think we had more legs than (Versailles)," said coach Roessner. "I really don't think Justine got an easy shot at the end of the game. That was key for us. I have to give Tiffany (Gaerke) credit for playing that good solid defense. Our total team defense was pretty good tonight.
"This was a good win. This is a big game early in the year. It's a measure of where we're at."
Fort Recovery returns to action on Saturday, making the short trip south to face Ansonia while Versailles will also face a Cross County Conference team, hosting Arcanum at Tiger Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.
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