So it’s come to this: No. 1 Versailles versus No. 2 South Euclid Regina. The meeting the state has been waiting for will happen in the semifinals and not finals of the Division III girls basketball tournament on Friday. The winner will be the odds on favorite to win the title on Saturday, but will they have enough energy left? The survivor of Sugarcreek Garaway-Mt. Blanchard Riverdale hopes not.
1:00 Friday: Versailles (26-0) vs. South Euclid Regina (24-2)
3:00 Friday: Sugarcreek Garaway (24-2) vs. Mt. Blanchard Riverdale (23-2)
Nickname: Lady Tigers
Girls Enrollment: 166
Final ‘07 Ranking: 1st
State Appearances: 2008, 2007, 1998, 1992
Head Coach: Jacki Stonebraker
School Rec.: 86-34 (5 yrs.)
PPG: 55.4; OPP: 31.3
F 20 Emily Frey, 5-11, Jr., 6.3 ppg
F 34 Justine Raterman, 6-1, Sr., 17.7 ppg
G 10 Karen Smith, 5-5, Jr., 2.2 ppg
G 12 Mallory Barga, 5-8, Sr., 1.9 ppg
G 32 Emily Bohman, 5-8, Sr.. 14.4 ppg
The Tigers are the only unbeaten team in all divisions and would love to snag the school’s first state basketball title. In fact, the Tigers would like to just get by the semifinals. In three previous trips to state, Versailles has failed to make the championship game. Last year the Tigers fell to eventual champion Cleveland Central Catholic 51-39 in the semis.
This year the task doesn’t get any easier with Regina in the way.
“They are very well known and they know how to win games at the state level,” Versailles coach Jacki Stonebraker said.
Speaking of knowing how to win, Versailles has gotten that down to a science this season. Running the rugged MAC gauntlet undefeated, the Tigers have won 23 of their 26 games by double-digits. The closest outcome is a 48-41 win over Delphos St. John’s on Jan. 3.
Getting back to state and playing with a bulls-eye is something the Tigers have mastered.
“The girls have taken care of the pressure,” Stonebraker said. “They are excited to get back to state and that was one of our goals – to get back there. We are excited to be playing for a state title again.”
Senior Justine Raterman is a four-year starter and headed to the University of Dayton. She is the Tigers leading scorer and rebounder (9 per game) and is also a two-time first team D-III All-Ohio volleyball player.
Depth and Defense
In addition to Raterman, the Tigers have two other players back who logged significant minutes in last year’s semifinal game. Senior Emily Bohman, who has blossomed into a star this season returns after netting nine rebounds, eight points and four assists against CCC last season. Also back is senior Mallory Barga.
“(The experience) it’s huge for us right now,” Stonebraker said. “We also had all those juniors on the bench and they didn’t play but they were there.”
Everyone has played this year. Versailles goes 9-10 deep and it’s that kind of constant swarm and rotation that fuels its defense. In 26 games, the Tigers have held opponents to less than 30 points 11 times. During the tournament the Tigers have gotten tougher.
In the sectional tournament, Versailles held its three opponents to 45 total points. In six total tourney games, the Tigers are allowing 24.2 points per game. Regina averages 74.9 ppg.
Said Stonebraker: “We rely greatly on our defense and take pride in limiting teams points.”
Should the Tigers need a game plan on how to beat Regina, they may want to contact Coldwater football coach John Reed. The Cavaliers faced similar insurmountable odds against a parochial school in the D-IV football final in December when they met nationally-ranked Youngstown Cardinal Mooney and recorded one of the greatest upsets in state history by winning 28-27.
In the tournament, the Tigers have already beaten two teams from the rugged Girls Greater Cincinnati League, which has two teams at state this weekend. Versailles held Roger Bacon to 33 points and Hamilton Badin to 30 in district final and regional semifinal wins, respectively.
SOUTH EUCLID REGINA (24-2)
Location: South Euclid
Girls Enrollment: 172
Final ‘07 Ranking: 2nd
State Appearances: 2008, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000
Head Coach: Pat Diulus
School Rec.: 217-25 (10 yr.)
PPG: 74.9; OPP: 45.4
F 24 Hillary Southworth, 5-10, So., 8.7 ppg
P 33 Mercedes Mitchell, 6-0, Sr., 11.6 ppg
G 3 Shay Selby, 5-9, Sr., 24.6 ppg
G 23 Emily Hoscilowicz, 5-7, Sr., 11.8 ppg
G 14 Tay’ler Mingo, 5-6, So., 10.2 ppg
Over the last decade, no team in Ohio has dominated its division like Regina. The Royals are making their sixth trip to Columbus and are 10-0 with five titles in their prior appearances, all since 2000. Another championship would tie them with Pickerington for the most championships by one school in history.
Regina’s last appearance at state was in 2005 when it beat Ironton and Patrick Henry by the combined score of 142-71.
“We’re excited to get back,” Regina head coach Pat Diulus said. “We only have two kids from the last time we were there.”
Regina senior Shay Selby is one of the top candidates for Ohio’s Ms. Basketball award. One of the nation’s top players, Selby is headed to Duke. She is one of two players who were on the Royals last state title team and scored 20 points in the 2005 finale.
Emily Hoscilowicz is the other Regina player with state experience. She logged 10 minutes and four points in the two state games.
Not No. 1
According to Diulus, the Royals don’t feel slighted by not being ranked No.1 ahead of Versailles.
Said Diulus: “I don’t think that people who vote necessarily see every team.”
That being said, the coach pointed out that Versailles does come from a solid conference and region for girls basketball. For the past 20 years, teams from Darke, Shelby, Auglaize and Mercer counties have made steady migrations to state.
“That’s probably one of the strongest basketball areas in the state of Ohio,” Diulus said.
SUGARCREEK GARAWAY (24-2)
Girls Enrollment: 147
Final ‘07 Ranking: 9th
State Appearances: 2008, 2006, 1996, 1994
Head Coach: Scott Bardall
School Rec.: 181-43 (9 yrs.)
PPG: 52.8; OPP: 23.9
P 32 Katie Hall, 5-8, Sr., 5.0 ppg
P 42 Sarah Bardall, 5-11, Fr., 5.8 ppg
G 10 Laura Bardall, 5-11, Sr., 20.6 ppg
G 20 Erica Hershberger, 5-6, Sr., 7.8 ppg
G 23 Kristen Troyer, 5-7, So., 7.8 ppg
Garaway is back in the semifinals for the second time in three years. The Pirates lost to Youngstown Ursuline in the 2006 semis.
Defensively, Garaway has the most impressive numbers of any team regardless of division. The Pirates allow a mind-numbing 23.9 points per game. To put that into perspective, Regina’s Selby averages 24.6 herself.
“We think we have kids that can defensively do the job.” Garaway head coach Scott Bardell said.
Pirates opponents agree.
MT. BLANCHARD RIVERDALE (23-2)
Location: Mt. Blanchard
Nickname: Lady Falcons
Girls Enrollment: 132
Final ‘07 Ranking: Not Ranked
State Appearances: 2008
Head Coach: Mary Ann Holderman
School Rec.: 66-6 (3 yrs.)
PPG: 60.1 OPP: 37.7
W11 Kayla Brown 5-8, Jr., 14.0 ppg
P 30Allysha Wells, 5-8, Sr., 5.7 ppg
G 22 Kristi Kotterman, 5-7, Sr., 11.4 ppg
G 12 Kelli Kotterman, 5-7, Sr., 9.7 ppg
G 13 Amy Fox, 5-6, Jr., 6.7 ppg
Riverdale is just one of two schools this weekend that is making its state debut (Lakota West in D-I is the other).
Semifinals: Versailles over Regina; Garaway over Ridgedale
Final: Versailles over Garaway