“Ian (Nisonger) set a great pick and Jon did a nice job of getting me the ball,” said Nieport. “I just felt a rhythm o I took the shot.”
Although Versailles needed a few more plays to secure the victory, Nieport’s clutch shot was the game changer with about forty seconds to play.
“Clayton’s shot is something we like to set up for him if we can spring him free,” said Versailles coach Scott McEldowney. “He has been shooting the three really well and hit another one for us.”
Nieport’s shot against St. Henry followed a game winner last Saturday in overtime against Ansonia. McEldowney and his crew hope the back to back close wins will help get a season long monkey off their back.
“We have had something like seven games that were within three points and this is only the second one we have won. I am really proud of the kids with the win tonight,” said McEldowney.
The contest was tight from the opening tip. The Redskins took a 4-0 lead and amazingly that was the largest lead of the night for either team.
As the first eight minutes wore on, the evidence of this one going to the final buzzer started to trickle in. Trading buckets, neither team really established any momentum and the period ended tied at 19-19.
The second stanza was much the same. St. Henry was able to establish the three ball, but not much else. In total the Skins hit 10 times from behind the arch led by Spencer Niekamp and Ryan Wehrkamp who each drained three.
But on the other end Versailles kept responding. The most effective play was the dribble penetration of Jon Richard, who led all scorers with 20 points.
With both teams giving and taking away, the second quarter was much like the first one, tight.
Versailles took a very brief lead on Kevin Grieshop’s traditional three point play at 22-21 but, St. Henry hit a three ball and quickly took it back at 24-22. From there the two teams played to a near stalemate and the half ended with the Redskins up 38-37.
As the second half opened, it was clear any type of run would be a huge advantage. St. Henry got that advantage, but it was quickly erased.
The Skins went on a 5-0 spurt giving them a 44-40, but one swift blow by Nieport erased it. The junior hit a three ball and it was 44-43 St. Henry.
Like the previous two periods the third stanza settled very little. As the offenses dominated the score raced upward and when the period ended the game was tied again at 53-53.
Now the writing was on the wall it was becoming very clear this game was headed for a fantastic finish. As they had done the entire game, the teams traded points, traded momentum and decided nothing.
St. Henry made a break going up 62-57, but Richard scored four consecutive points cutting the deficit to 62-61. The Skins Brent Prenger pushed the advantage to 64-61 with a field goal, but after that the game was all Versailles.
The Tigers outscored the Skins 10-4 to close out the game. The biggest of those three points came from Nieport’s three and Richard who drained two free throws to close out the scoring.
St. Henry tossed up one last shot that fell well short and Versailles recorded the big victory. Versailles ends the regular season 9-11, while St. Henry drops to 12-7.
“That was a great high school basketball game tonight. I can’t be discourage by that,” said St. Henry coach Joe Niekamp.