Tuesday, March 11th, 2008
By Gary R. Rasberry
Versailles girls run table on way to state championship
Tigers finish the season as only undefeated team in state of Ohio
COLUMBUS - There's winning. Then there's winning in style.
Versailles certainly won in style on Monday, ending the season as the only undefeated team in the state of Ohio, winning a defensive battle against Sugarcreek Garaway and capturing the Division III state title with a 51-33 win at the Schottenstein Center on the campus of The Ohio State University.
The Tigers end the year at 28-0 and capture their first state girls basketball title - the 10th for the Midwest Athletic Conference between six schools. The Pirates end the year at 25-3.
"One word: Unbelievable!" said Versailles coach Jacki Stonebraker, who went from 5-16 in her first year to 28-0 this season. "The entire season has been a dream come true, at least it has for me and I think it has for the rest of the team. These girls have had a mark on their back all season ever since the polls came out with the (number) one ranking and they've played with pressure, played with poise and played with determination that they were not going to be knocked off that number-one ranking. I think they proved today why they were the number-one team in the state."
Garaway entered the final four allowing just 23.9 points per game, and early on, it looked like the score would remain low as the Pirates held a 7-6 lead after the first quarter.
Versailles, which had trouble getting into the paint to find either Justine Raterman or Emily Bohman, made a change and went with what Stonebraker called her "big lineup," inserting 6-0 Megan Campbell to go with the 6-1 Raterman, 5-11 Emily Frey, 5-10 Emily Eilerman and 5-8 Bohman.
The plan worked as Raterman went to the perimeter and helped get the ball in to Campbell, who had six second-quarter points as Versailles outscored Garaway 13-6 in the second quarter to take a 19-13 halftime lead.
"I thought Megan played the game of her life today," said Stonebraker. "It just seemed like she was in the right place at the right time, catching and grabbing rebounds all the time. Her bunny shots were just right on today. We went to a big lineup and (Garaway) didn't seem to be able to handle it."
"Teammates were setting good screens and really punched it in low," said Bohman. "(Garaway) had bigger girls down there today, so we had to get it to our big post. Our other guards were taking outside shots. Everything was falling in. Everybody stepped it up."
"First half, we tried to force them to shoot from the perimeter," said Pirates coach Scott Bardall. "With some success, we were able to control the tempo of the game. They got a couple of over-the-top plays. ... We felt we were okay at halftime. We needed to better handle the over-the-top stuff. We thought it was doable."
The Pirates would get to within three at the start of the third quarter when Laura Bardall sank a three-pointer 14 seconds into the half, but Versailles went on a 16-3 run to end the quarter taking a 35-19 lead into the final eight minutes of play.
"I felt like in the third quarter, we kind of got a couple of quick buckets against them and kept them from scoring," said Stonebraker. "That was huge."
"What (Versailles) did in the second half is what a championship team needs to do," said coach Bardall. "We took away as best we could the paint and they hit us from the perimeter."
Now Versailles had the momentum to slow down play, forcing Garaway to foul. The Tigers were 8-of-14 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, with Raterman a perfect 4-for-4 before leaving in the final minute. Senior Mandy Gerling, who has scored just six points on the season, capped off the night for the Tigers by scoring the last two points of the game on a wide-open layup.
"It's phenomenal," said Bohman. "I can't even describe it in words. To be out there with 15 other girls on this team and share the experience. It's great."
"When the season starts, you pray that when you lose, if you lose, if that time comes you lose to a team on that day was better than you," said coach Bardall. "Today, Versailles was better than we were."
Raterman's final game for the Tigers was a memorable one, as she became the school's all-team leading scorer late in the third quarter, passing Kelli Stahl. Raterman now has 1,672 career points. Raterman's 17-point, 10-rebound night earned the Dayton-bound senior the Outstanding Player of the Division III Tournament, scoring 44 points and pulling down 29 rebounds over the two games.
"Actually, I didn't know," Raterman admitted when asked about breaking the scoring record. "You always hear rumors that you're close. I didn't know and I didn't really care. I just wanted to come out here with my team and win a state championship. That was the most important thing and we got that done."
Campbell, who missed much of the second half with an ankle sprain, added 10 points. Bohman, also on the all-tournament team with Raterman, scored six points and dished out four assists.
Garaway's Laura Bardall led all players with 18 points, earning a spot on the all-tournament team. Rounding out the team was Regina's Mercedes Mitchell and Riverdale's Kayla Brown.
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