By Rob Kiser
Call Sports Editor
COLUMBUS — Versailles senior Katie Heckman had a big smile on her face before the Lady Tigers D-III state semifinal game with Proctorville-Fairland.
And once Heckman got into the game, it didn’t take long to see why.
The Lady Dragons 6-foot-4 Terra Stapleton may be one of the few post players the 6-foot senior and 6-2 junior Christa Puthoff look up to.
And while the fact she will play at the University of Michigan next year and was D-III co-state Player of the Year may have intimidated a lot of players — Heckman and Puthoff aren’t two of them.
The duo combined for 28 points and 13 rebounds in the Lady Tigers 67-60 win, going right at here in the paint from the very start.
“It is a lot of fun to play against someone like that,” Heckman said. “Where you bang a little bit and know they aren’t going to call cheap fouls.”
Pothast was equally confident going into the game.
“Katie and I go up against each other every day in practice,” she said. “There isn’t anything any tougher than that.”
Puthoff was 7-for-10 from the floor and only a 1-for-6 effort from the line kept her from putting up bigger numbers, while pulling down six rebounds.
“I had a few balls bounce my way today,” Pothast said. “I would say I got some lucky bounces.”
Heckman was equally effective, making five of nine shots from the floor and three of four free throws, while grabbing seven rebounds.
“I did (get into a good rhythm) out there,” Heckman said. “Like I said, I enjoy playing against someone like that.”
Versailles coach Jacki Stonebraker was not surprised, in spite of the challenge.
“That girl (Terra Stapleton) is a strong player — probably stronger than me,” the former Lady Tiger and Bowling Green standout, who stands 6-foot, said. “We weren’t afraid. We took it right at here. I thought that was something we would be able to do.”
At the same time, Stapleton made just two of 11 shots from the floor — although she did make seven of eight free throws in scoring 11 points.
She didn’t make a field goal in the second half, scoring just four points after the break — but six of her eight rebounds came in the second half.
“We just surrounded her,” Stonebraker said. “The girls did a great job. Sometimes, we just had gang (guard) her. If you had told me our 3-point numbers (1-for-5) against that time, I would have thought we have come out under (losing). But, we did a great job scoring in the paint.”
You couldn’t blame her if Saturday meant a little more to Chloe Warvel than any of the other Lady Tigers.
After tearing her ACL early last season, Warvel injured her MCL in the pre-season this year and it required surgery.
Yet, there she was playing a key role (seven points, five rebounds, one block, one steal) after returning late in the regular season.
“It is an unbelievable feeling,” Warvel said about playing in the state championship game. “I had confidence in my teammates that they could make a tournament run — and I hoped I would be able to get back and play.”
Olivia Schlater — who also tore her ACL last year — went down during the game with an ankle injury, but Stonebraker hopes to have her available today.
“It was her ankle, not her knee — which is a good thing,” Stonebraker said. “I think she rolled her ankle. Anybody who has done that knows how painful that is the first time you do it.”
Versailles plays Africentric in the title game today — and the Lady Nubians are in the championship game for the third straight year — having won two years ago and lost to Anna in the title game last year.
“I know they are quick,” Stonebraker said. “Our guards are just going to have to hang in there. We will face another co-Player of the Year (Alexa Hart, who shared the honor with Stapleton, stands 6-2 and blocked 11 shots in a 44-22 win over Smithville Friday.”
Heckman is probably already smiling.