By Gary R. Rasberry
DAYTON -- Versailles used a 10-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to pull away and beat Dayton Jefferson, 52-44, at the Division III Dayton I district final held on Thursday at the University of Dayton Arena.
The Tigers (19-4) now face Madeira on Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. at the Ervin J. Nutter Center on the campus of Wright State University. The Mustangs, who lost in the regular season to the Tigers 77-75 in overtime, beat Stivers 49-42 in the first game of the district final of the tripleheader. The third game featured top-ranked North College Hill blowing out Twin Valley South 78-25. The Trojans face Columbus I bracket winner Bloom-Carroll in the second game on Wednesday.
The Tigers looked to have the game under control, leading 28-19 with six minutes to go in the third quarter, but the Broncos (18-6) stormed back with an 11-4 run to tie the game at 32-all with 1:21 left thanks to a pair of Jesse Watts free throws. Jeremy Shardo broke the tie at the 54-second mark with a stickback, but Rondale Beard scored with 20 seconds left to tie the game going into the fourth quarter.
"(Jefferson) went a little man, then they went a little 1-2-2," said Tigers coach Dave Peltz. "It's a typical kind of game you'll see against Jefferson. They're very athletic and very quick."
Neither team could get a good shot in the first 90 seconds of the quarter before Clint Hufford nailed a three-pointer from the corner to put the Tigers up for good at 37-34. Beard got the score back to a one-point deficit on the ensuing Jefferson possession, but Jayson White stepped up with a big stickback to make it a three-point game again. "Jordan (Liette) had a couple of nice rebounds and hit his foul shots," said Peltz. "Clint did knock down a big shot from the corner. That's the shot you have to hit to advance in the district final."
With Versailles now using ball control to slow down the tempo of the game, Jefferson had to foul. The Tigers went to the line eight times in a span of 21Ú2 minutes, making six along the way to spark a 10-0 run that made the score 47-36 with 1:46 to go in the game.
With the score tight again at 47-41, Shardo put the game on ice for the Tigers with two free throws. Richard added a free throw and bucket at the end of the game to close out the scoring. The Tigers were 16-of-24 from the foul line in the game, including 10-of-14 from the stripe in the fourth quarter.
"I think we did a real nice job on the boards in the second half," said Peltz, whose team outboarded the Broncos 36-34. "We got a little bit of a lead, they made a run. We were able to extend our lead and hang on to the basketball."
"Because we had to come back and put pressure on them, we got a little fatigued," said Jefferson coach Art Winston. "We made a couple of mental mistakes at the start of the fourth quarter and they took advantage of it."
The Tigers got 15 points from Adam Barga while Zac Richard finished the game with a double-double, scoring 14 and pulling down 12 rebounds, five on the offensive end of the court.
Williams led Jefferson with 15 points.