By Rob Kiser
PITSBURG — The Versailles girls basketball team is looking towards the next challenge.
Miami East girls could hold their heads high with the way they dealt with the challenges this season threw at them.
On Saturday, in a Franklin Monroe D-III sectional title game, Versailles came out on fire from the 3-point line and went on to a 68-36 victory.
The Lady Tigers, 22-3, will now play Bethel Tate next Saturday at Springfield High School.
“Absolutely,” Versailles coach Jacki Stonebraker said with a big smile about looking forward to the challenges ahead. “That is what makes the tournament fun.”
Miami East closes the season at 13-12 after facing adversity from the start — when star point guard Morgan Haney tore her ACL in the preseason.
“I couldn’t be prouder of these girls and the way they handled everything,” Miami East coach Bruce Vanover said. “It is funny you should mention adversity. Coach (Kevin) Gump was just talking to the girls about that and saying the way they handled everything shows how they are going to handle things in life. And I think they have a bright future.”
Vanover saw the 1-2-2 zone as a the lesser of two evils Saturday — even after Versailles hit four 3-pointers in the first three minutes and finished with 11 for the game.
“We tried going man the first time we played then,” Vanover said. “And they destroyed us with the pick-and-roll. We weren’t going to come out of the 1-2-2. Nothing you can do when they shoot like that.”
Kami McEldowney hit three in the early going, tied a school record with six for the game and Camille Watren added three — all in the first half. Brynna Blakeley and Caitlin McEldowney added one each.
“We had Kami (McEldowney) and Camille (Watren) both knocking down shots from out there,” Stonebraker said. “We had some other guards who came in an were dribble-driving and our big girls did a nice job inside.”
Versailles led 22-6, 39-17 and 56-25 at the quarter breaks.
“The first quarter has been a key for us,” Stonebraker said. “Our press has helped us get off to a good start.”
Vanover will take the 20 turnovers East had to Versailles’ 12, with a number of them coming in the Vikings’ half-court offense.
“Their press absolutely destroyed us the first time,” Vanover said. “And it did two years ago. We really worked at the press and I was so proud of the way the girls handled it today. That shows me we were getting better at the end of the season and that is all you can ask.”
McEldowney led Versailles with 20, while Elizabeth Ording had 12 and Watren added 11.
Haley Howard led East with six points as the Lady Vikings had nine different girls score.
“We had a lot of people score today,” Vanover said. “Morgan (Haney) has two more years and I believe we did have a number of girls who got better (having to play without Morgan Haney). Emily Hawkins and Sage Hunley — our two seniors — did a great job leading such a young group — and everyone else is back.”
Versailles was 24 of 44 from the floor for 55 percent and nine of 12 from the line for 75 percent.
Miami East was 13 of 26 from the floor for 50 percent and eight of 12 from the line for 67 percent.
“I thought we really played well and executed what we wanted to do,” Stonebraker said.
Now, it is on to bigger challenges — and more fun for the Lady Tigers.
Kami McEldowney 7-0-20, Camille Watren 3-2-11, Ellen Peters 3-0-6, Elizabeth Ording 4-4-12, Lindsey Winner 0-3-3, Danielle Winner 2-0-4, Clair Schmitmeyer 2-0-4, Brynna Blakeley 1-0-3, Kami Ording 0-0-0, Mallory Marshal 1-0-2, Emily Langenkamp 0-0-0, Hailey McEldowney 0-0-0, Bailey Huffman 0-0-0, Caitlin McEldowney 1-0-3, Kelsey Custenborder 0-0-0. Totals: 24-9-68.
Miami East (36)
Bailey Miller 0-1-1, Gabrielle Hawkins 2-0-4, Emily Hawkins 1-2-5, Amber Kinnison 1-3-5, Haley Howard 2-2-6, Camryn Miller 2-0-5, Kaitlyn Mack 2-0-4, Maria Staton 0-0-0, Sage Hunley 2-0-4, Anna Jacomet 1-0-2, Emily Adkins 0-0-0, Savannah Nehring 0-0-0, Whitney Gross 0-0-0. Totals: 13-8-36.
3-point field goals — Versailles: Kami McEldowney (6), Watren (3), Blakeley, Caitlin McEldowney. Miami East: Emily Hawkins, Camryn Miller.
Score By Quarters
Versailles 22 39 56 68
Miami East 6 17 25 36
Records: Versailles 22-3, Miami East 13-12.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.