Saturday, February 5th, 2011
By Mark Ruschau
Tigers edge Wildcats in battle of first-place teams
Versailles and New Knoxville share lead in the MAC
MINSTER - On a night where defense was king, the Versailles Tigers came up with just enough offense to defeat the state's 11th-ranked Minster Wildcats 38-37 on Friday night in a battle between two of the three teams tied for the top spot in the Midwest Athletic Conference.
It's the eighth win in a row for Versailles, which improves to 11-3 overall and 5-1 in the conference, tied for first place with the New Knoxville Rangers. Minster lost for the first time in nine games and falls to 11-2 overall (4-2 MAC).
With the score tied at 27-all entering the fourth quarter, Minster took its last lead of the game on a free throw by Jacob Goodwin. On Versailles' next trip down the floor, the ball went inside to Mitchell Campbell for a lay-in and a 29-28 Tigers' lead. After an exchange of empty trips, the Tigers' Ethan Bruns gave his team a three point lead, at 31-28 after a lay-in with 4:54 left to play in the game.
After a Doug Huber basket for Minster made the score 31-30, Versailles answered again offensively as Bruns canned two free throws.
Minster tied the game one last time as it got a free throw from Chase Paxson and a stickback by Huber to tie the game at 33-33 with 3:40 left. Versailles again had the answer offensively as Campbell canned a three and Aaron McNeilan scored inside to rebuild the lead to 38-35 with 2:17 left.
Huber scored inside to cut Minster's deficit to 38-37, but unfortunately for Huber and the rest of the Wildcats, those were their last points of the game. On their last four possessions of the game Minster missed two shots from the floor, and two more from the free-throw line while turning the ball over once. While Minster struggled down the stretch, the Versailles offense had its issues as well late in the game going scoreless the last 2:17 of the game. Versailles missed the front end of three one-and-one opportunities and missed a shot from the floor.
The last three minutes of the game showcased the offensive struggles of both teams. Versailles hit on just 16-of-46 shots from the floor, including 4-of-20 from three-point range, and just two-of-six from the free-throw line. Minster shot just 12-of-45 from the field and 12-of-22 from the free-throw line.
"This was a big win for us to come on the road and get a win," said Versailles' coach Scott McEldowney. "These were two good teams and we just could not put each other away. I was really proud of the way we played defense, especially the way Minster was putting up points this season.
"I am really blessed with a lot of good players and I feel that any one of several people can step up offensively. The thing that I like is that they are not scared to take the shot or make the play," continued McEldowney.
"If someone would of told me that we would shoot 25 percent from the floor and about 50 percent from the free-throw line and lose only by one, there is no correlation but we shot like the weather is outside," said Minster coach Mike Lee. "Some of that you have to credit to their defense, it was solid and baskets were hard to come by.
"There was a stretch there where we went up five or six in the third quarter and then we went into cruise mood and then like good teams do, they got back into the game," continued Lee. "We tried to use the whole kitchen sink to find something offensively but it just did not work for us."
Bruns led the way for Versailles with 11 points. Campbell chipped in seven points and 13 rebounds.
Huber led Minster with 18 points and 12 rebounds while Ross Heitkamp added 14 points.
Minster is back in action tonight playing host to Jackson Center while Versailles plays again next Friday as host to New Bremen.
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