squad to execute it, but that still wasn’t enough to keep Versailles
(24-0) from claiming a Division III southwest district girls basketball
championship on Saturday, 42-33. The Tigers trailed 21-11 with 6:01 left in the third quarter before outscoring Bacon 31-12 the rest of the way.
“We have a target on our backs right now,” Versailles head coach Jacki Stonebraker lamented. “Everyone wants to beat us. I think the girls might have backed down a little bit in the first half, but they came out firing in the second half.
“There is no excuse for the way we played tonight, but I give Bacon all the credit in the world. They came out and played great defense, and we’ve never seen that defense before either. They have real quick guards and they were able to cause us some serious problems.”
The undefeated Tigers remain the state’s No. 1 ranked D-III program. Their next stop is a regional semifinal against Hamilton Badin on Wednesday (8 p.m. at Vandalia High School).
On a sad note, Roger Bacon’s (14-10) improbable run at a state title has come to an end; but not before they scared the stuffing out of one of the tournament’s favorites and prompted thoughtful onlookers to wonder how they managed to lose 10 games this year.
At 6:01 of the third quarter Versailles trailed Bacon 21-11 and it really didn’t seem like it was that close. The Tigers were still having severe spacing problems and they had no answer to the Spartans 2-1-2 full-court press. It was so bad that they turned the ball over the last five possessions of the first half.
In a particularly futile stretch that lasted nearly two quarters (15:13), Versailles scored just one (1) basket. The moral of this story: “Standing around is one thing, but when you stand around together you can be guarded with just a couple of players.”
As bad as that sounds, it was even worse than that for the MAC champions. University of Dayton recruit and All-Ohio center, Justine Ratterman, only had two points at the break compared to 12 points for the girl she was guarding—Roger Bacon’s Stephanie Hodapp.
The Spartans mixed a box-and-one zone with a triangle-and-two zone when in half-court situations. After made shots they relied on various full court zone presses (2-1-2), and until late in the third quarter everything they tried seemed to work out great.
Bacon head coach John Schablein covered Ratterman and Bohman with his guards (Kelly Uetrecht and Style Harper) while the rest of his defenders crowded the lane. It was a unique look for a triangle-and-two, and it was very effective for the first twenty minutes of this contest.
But, at 4:25 of the third period Ratterman sneaked into a passing lane, stole a pass, and drove the length of the court to cut the Spartan’s lead to 8. Just moments later, Courtney Barlage hit a shot in the lane. On the next possession, Ratterman got a stick back on an offensive rebound to cut the lead to 4.
Suddenly, the 2-1-2 zone press that had wreaked havok on the Tiger’s pride was being sliced and diced with ease. It was as if Stonebraker had conducted a press-breaking workshop for her squad at halftime.
“Dribble against a man-to-man,” she might have said. “pass against a zone.”
Versailles’ newfound ability to simply get the ball safely up the court resulted in easy layups and fouls shots for the rest of the contest.
With 2:22 left in the third quarter, Emily Ellerman fed Emily Bohman cutting towards the hoop to make the score 21-19. Ratterman hit another jumper and then, a few seconds later, she converted a three-point play to put the Tigers in the lead to stay 24-21.
“There were lots of thoughts running through my head in the third quarter,” Versailles’ all-star senior post player said after the game. “But I knew that we had to step it up and take the game to them if we wanted to win. I put the rest of the team on my shoulders and I told them that we could do this.”
Ratterman led the Tigers in scoring with 13 points (12 rebounds, 3 blocks). Bohman joined her in double figures (11 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists). Emily Frey (9 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks), Barlage (5 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block), Mallory Barga (2 points, 1 assist, 1 rebounds), and Karen Smith (2 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound) rounded out the Tiger’s scoring.
Hodapp led all scorers with 16 points (5 rebounds, 2 blocks). Vicki Pumpple (7 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds), Style Harper (6 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists), and Breauna Reed (4 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks) also scored for Roger Bacon.
“The theory was that we were going to try to deny them the ball and then we were going to double team them whenever the ball got into the post,” Spartan head coach John Schablein said. “We weren’t surprised that it worked, but we just didn’t have the horses to take full advantage of the situation.
“Versailles deserves everything they get. They are great, but I’m proud of my team. They lost a lot of tough games against highly ranked teams this year. For example, they lost twice to Chaminade-Julienne. So, my girls are much better than their record indicates and I think they proved that again tonight.”
Ratterman was very impressed with the Spartans.
“We knew coming into the game that they were going to run triangle-and-two (zone), but we didn’t know it was going to be that good. I give them a lot of credit for playing really tough defense against us. No one has done that against us all year. They came out and played really hard, and they kinda scared us.
“At halftime there were a lot of emotions in the locker room. We all wanted this and it showed on all of the girl’s faces. Every single eye was on me. We weren’t going to back down. We weren’t just going to let this end our season.”