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01-07-04: Tigers make the plays down the stretch


COLDWATER — Judging by the atmosphere in the Palace on Tuesday night, one would have thought it was a tournament game going on.
Or a Coldwater-Versailles football game.
The Tigers and Cavaliers met on the basketball court and the game played out like the meeting on the gridiron in October.
The Tigers, who had a 15-0 run to take the lead for good, had to hold on with some timely foul shooting to down the Cavaliers 60-50 in Midwest Athletic Conference action.
The win keeps Versailles perfect at 6-0 and 2-0 in the conference while Coldwater evens its record to 3-3 and drops to 0-2 in the MAC.
At the half, the game looked to be going the way the Tigers have been used to in the early portion of the season — comfortable lead and well in control.
The Cavaliers, however, resolved to make coach Roger McEldowney sweat a bit and use four of his five allotted timeouts in the final 12 minutes of the game.
Coldwater trailed 32-17 at the half but slowly began to claw its way back into the game, getting as close as nine points in the period as time wound down.
In the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers went on a 15-8 run, getting the score down to 54-50 with 2:16 left in the game on a Jay Miller steal and layup.
Coldwater began to turn up the defense with a tenacious man-to-man style and Alex Hoyng hit two big buckets to help in the run.
“They went man and Joe (Shardo) got into a little bit of foul trouble, so he couldn’t be as aggressive,” said McEldowney. “I think we got a little complacent. We had a big lead and we were trying to hang on rather than attack. We also missed some easy shots.”
Versailles stayed ahead for good thanks to the foul line. After not making it to the stripe in the first three quarters, the Tigers went to the line 10 times, making all of their tries.
“That was good,” said McEldowney. “That’s what you need to win on the road in the MAC. Give those guys (Coldwater) credit. They played their butts off and made some big shots when they had to.”
Although down because of the loss, Coldwater coach Don Vogt had no trouble praising his team’s effort in making it back from a 15-2 deficit in the first period.
“The heart of the team tonight was just unbelievable,” said Vogt. “We’ve kind of been waiting for that intensity and that effort. Our team has been up and down. We might win one, then lose one where we didn’t have that fire we had tonight.
“The way those kids fought and scrapped against a team who will likely be number one next week (In the first Associated Press state basketball poll), it was all I could ask for,” added Vogt.
After getting down 15-2 in the opening period, the Cavs responded with a 12-0 run of their own. Jeff Grieshop hit two big threes and Brandon Bettinger came off the bench with two big buckets to cut it to 15-14 before a Bart Schmitz lay-in made the score 17-14.
Versailles appeared to be in control in the second as Coldwater missed all four of its field attempts and managed just three free throws as Shardo and Kyle Gehle each hit a pair of treys and Ben Shappie nailed a three-ball at the buzzer for all of Versailles points in the period.
Gehle led the way with 25 points while Shardo added 15 with Shappie finishing with 10.
Miller went 4-of-5 from the field and hit all four of his foul shots to lead Coldwater with 12 points while Bettinger and Hoyng each added 10.
Both teams are at home on Friday to continue MAC play. Versailles hosts 5-1 Minster as the Cavaliers play host to New Knoxville.
Tickets for Coldwater’s game with New Knoxville and Saturday’s game at LCC will be on sale through Friday from 8 to 4 p.m. at the high school office. Tickets for the New Knoxville game are $5 for adults and $3 for students. Adult tickets for LCC will be $4.


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