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Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Tigers down Cardinals with defense

By Mark Ruschau
VERSAILLES - In the game of basketball, as in all things, there's a fine line between success and failure.
And when a team is struggling the line becomes even finer.
Friday night two struggling basketball teams, Versailles and New Bremen, met in Midwest Athletic Conference play at Versailles High School.
Although they struggled down the stretch offensively, Versailles came up with enough big defensive plays to post a 45-42 win.
With the win, Versailles snaps a three-game losing streak and improves to 9-4 overall and 4-2 in the conference while New Bremen, losers of four of five, drops to 8-6 overall and 2-3 in the conference.
Versailles used its defense to win a close game as it held New Bremen scoreless for the last 3:46 of the game. Over that time frame, New Bremen missed nine shots, two free throws and they turned the ball over twice.
The defensive effort by Versailles was more than enough to offset the Tigers' offensive problems late in the game as they hit just one-of-two shots from the field and missed the front end of three one-and-one situations at the free-throw line.
"We really needed a win like this one. With the way we've been struggling lately, it's just a relief," said Versailles coach Scott McEldowney. "What I really liked about the game tonight was that even though we struggled offensively, missing free throws and things, we never got frustrated and we gave a great effort defensively down the stretch. The kids seemed to say that no matter what happened offensively they we weren't going to score again and do everything we can to win this game defensively."
"We did not get a lot of good looks down the stretch, neither team got a lot of good looks all night," said New Bremen coach Mike Ernst. "We had chances to take the lead late in the game but we missed two free throws, we couldn't get big baskets and our execution down the stretch wasn't as good as theirs was and that was the difference."
Versailles had the upper hand in the game for the first 26 minutes of the game before a three-point basket by Matt McCollum gave New Bremen its first lead of the night 38-37 with 6:22 left. Versailles answered back and took the lead for good, 41-38, on baskets from Ian Nisonger and Jeremy Shardo.
New Bremen answered with a basket from Scott Schnelle to make the score 41-40 with 4:58 left. After an exchange of turnovers, New Bremen took its final lead of the night, 42-41, on a pair of Scott Steineman free throws with 3:46 left.
Versailles retook the lead for good, 43-42, on its next trip as Jordan Liette canned two free throws with 3:18 left.
New Bremen had two chances to retake the lead but turned the ball over on one possession and on the other they missed three shots inside and two free throws.
Versailles scored the last basket of the game with 2:22 left, on a lay-in by Shardo odd a nice feed from Tony McNeilan.
After a New Bremen timeout, Steineman missed from the wing with Shardo grabbing the rebound. On the ensuing Versailles trip, Shardo missed a three-point try.
After an trading empty possessions, New Bremen had two open three-point shots from Steineman, but both came up empty with Jordan Liette grabbing the rebound with 24 seconds left. Versailles had two chances to nail down the win but Liette and Shardo both missed the front ends of one-and-ones in a span of 17 seconds, with Shardo's miss coming with seven seconds left.
After a New Bremen timeout with five seconds left, Steineman attempted a three-point shot from the left wing which was long but rebounded by McCollum.   
McCollum went right back up from three-point range, but it was blocked away by Shardo at the buzzer.
Liette led Versailles with 14 points while Shardo added 10.
Schnelle led the Cardinals with 14 points.
New Bremen is back in action Friday hosting Parkway while Versailles returns to action tonight in a big way as it plays host to the number-one ranked team in the state for Division IV, the Russia Raiders. The freshmen teams will open the tripleheader at 5 p.m.
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