By Gary R. Rasberry
VERSAILLES -- It took a couple of Joe Shardo three pointers that would have made an NBA player proud to beat Fort Recovery on Monday night.
Everything else Versailles tried didn't have much effect.
Fort Recovery overcame a 17-point second half deficit to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, but a Shardo long-range three-pointer in the final minute helped Versailles come away with a 48-47 win in Midwest Athletic Conference action at the Tiger Gymnasium.
The Tigers stay perfect on the season with a 6-0 record and raise their MAC mark to 2-0. Fort Recovery falls to 5-2 overall and 1-2 in the MAC.
Versailles went from its biggest offensive outputs in a quarter this season to its worst dry spell. The Tigers outscored the Indians 21-3 in the second quarter to take a 29-13 lead at the half but only scored nine points in the third quarter and 10 in the fourth quarter as the Indians made a charge. "I thought we did a lot of things well in the second quarter," said Tigers coach Doug Hughes. "We were trying to figure out what that was late in the game. We didn't look good in the second half. I think the game boiled down to that we got hurt on the boards."
"We obviously did not start well," said Fort Recovery coach Brian Patch. "Our kids battled back, which I was hoping we would. They won't give up."
Things did not look good for the Indians after trailing by 16 at the break. Shardo hit a couple of buckets early in the third quarter to raise the lead to 17 points before the Indians went on a charge that saw them cut it to 38-30 by the end of the quarter. Dusty Tobe, who along with Travis VanSkyock were hounded by the Tiger defense, got a few shots to fall late in the quarter. The Tribe duo had eight points in the quarter after being held scoreless in the first half.
Things continued to slide for the Tigers as the fourth quarter started. VanSkyock finally got open and Clint Tobe hit a big three to make it a three-point game at 39-36 with 6:10 left to go.
VanSkyock followed up with a jumper in the lane to cut it to one before Sean Kahlig got a putback with 4:40 left to give the Indians their first lead since early in the second quarter.
"We cut down on our turnovers. We had eight in the first half and it was down to two in the second half," said Patch.
Clint Hufford, coming in after Kevin Paulus picked up his fourth personal foul, drained a trey from the corner to put the Tigers up two at 42-40. Kahlig once again came through, making both ends of a one-and-one to tie things again. Shardo, standing at least five feet behind the arc, let one fly, putting it through the hoop with three minutes left to put the Tigers up three at 45-42.
Both teams missed chances to score from the foul line over the next two minutes. The Indians finally scored with 1:44 left when Dusty Tobe hit a trey from the baseline to tie things up again.
After Hughes used a 30-second timeout, the Tigers passed the ball around looking for another Shardo long-range bomb. The Tigers got Shardo the ball and he launched another NBA-range trey that went through with one minute left to put the Tigers up 48-45.
Fort Recovery did not panic as Greg Faller hit a 14-footer with 45 seconds left to cut it to one. Versailles moved the ball around to avoid the Indians' foul attempts but finally Shardo was tagged with 17.4 seconds left. Shardo missed the front end of the one-and-one and Kahlig rebounded.
After a timeout, Fort Recovery went to Faller for the short jumper. The shot mised as Hufford got the rebound before getting fouled with 3.1 seconds left. Hufford missed the first try and VanSkyock rebounded and called the final Tribe timeout.
Wuebker, who played some quarterback in the fall, tried the long pass down the length of the court, but Adam Barga got in front of it and knocked it out of bounds. With the ball right near the three-point line, Wuebker looked for Dusty Tobe, and his jumper in the lane fell short as the horn sounded, giving the Tigers the win.
"It seemed like we were getting a little cute," said Hughes. "We need to stop turning the ball over, stop being cute and play the game."
The Indians were hampered by a tough night from the foul line, making just 6-of-18 tries, including a 2-of-6 effort in the final quarter.
"If we would have made a few more shots, hit our free throws and came up with the defensive rebounds, it would have made the difference," said Patch. "It's hard to tell the kids to go out and guard someone at the volleyball line (the 10-foot line used during volleyball season). They're not used to doing that. When (Shardo) steps into the gym, he's in range."
Shardo finished the night with 19 points and Hufford came off the bench for eight points while Borchers added eight points.
VanSkyock paced the Indians with 12 points while Dusty Tobe added 11. Kahlig finished with nine points and 12 rebounds.
Fort Recovery hosts New Knoxville on Friday in MAC action while Versailles hosts St. John's in a key conference matchup.