the bistro off broadway
Versailles junior Justin Ahrens delivered 26 points for the Tigers Monday against
Tri-Village. The Tigers prevailed 61-56 over the Patriots in The Flyin' to the Hoop Invitational
Monday at Trent Arena in Kettering.  CNO File Photo
Versailles too much for Patriots
By George Starks

KETTERING- When Tri-Village and Versailles hooked up at the annual Jets Holiday Tournament, it was usually a barn burner.

The last time these two met at The Hangar, it was 2008 and it was for the championship of the tournament.

That was then and in 2017, the two teams laced up the shoes for what would prove to be another tough battle.

In the end, it was Travis Swank and the Versailles Tigers coming out on top 61-56 in the opening game of the final day of the Flyin’ to the Hoop invitational at Trent Arena in Kettering.

 What is often a strong suite for the Tigers (12-1) nearly became their demise.

Foul shooting.

Versailles shot a poultry 13-27 from the line (48 percent).

 “Maybe it’s the morning hours. I don’t know what was going on,” said Swank. “Our free throwstonight were atrocious. Knock those down and maybe it’s not as close as what it needed to be there at the end but Tri-Village is a good team. I can’t take anything away from them.”

Versailles jumped out to the early 11-2 lead and was looking to blow the Patriots right out of the Arena.

A quick timeout by Sagester to calm the troops down brought out a more relaxed bunch that was ready to play ball.

Led by seniors Trace Couch (24 points) and Gavin Richards (19) the Patriots were able to climb back into the game, trailing 18-10 after one.

“The Couch kid had a great game tonight,” Swank said. “We knew he was going to be a load. I thought we handled the Richards kid for the most part pretty well, though. We tried to take one of them away. You can’t take both of them I feel like. If you take away one you have a better chance at winning a ball game.”

The second quarter brought out the best in both teams as junior Justin Ahrens (26) and Keaton McEldowney (13) took control for Versailles while the Patriots were content to stay the course and chip away at the eight point deficit, only to trail at the break, 31-27.

“He (McEldowney) hit some big shots for us,” said Swank. “He hit another big shot in the second half as well. He came in ready to play. We talk about seems like every time we’ve got different guys that step up to the plate and take their hacks as a baseball analogy goes. It was Keaton’s turn today, and he did his job, what he’s supposed to, and we needed him today in order to get the W.”

Despite trailing by as much as a dozen points in the second half, the Patriots never lost sight of their goal…pulling off the upset of the state ranked Tigers.

Both teams offense seemed disoriented in the third as the Tigers held a not so impressive 44-36 lead with eight minutes left in the game.

 “I’m really proud of my kids,” Tri-Village coach Josh Sagester said. “Obviously there are no moral victories in our locker room. We’re ready to get back to work tomorrow.”

“This was like a MAC game,” Swank admitted. “This team is that good.The second half it felt like we kept the ball alive a lot and had our opportunities and kind of willed our way a little bit more to the basket,” Swank said. “You need those when free throws aren’t falling and you’re not getting easy ones to go in. You need to get those second-chance opportunities.”

“We had our chances,” admitted Sagester. “We just didn’t take advantage of them.”

Versailles will travel to Ft. Recovery on Friday while the Patriots will entertain Tri-County North Friday and Winchester on Saturday.

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