By Kyle Shaner
KETTERING – Roger Bacon’s defense had Versailles out of sorts all night as the Spartans ended the Tigers’ season on Wednesday in the regional semifinals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III tournament.
“Impressive,” Versailles boys basketball coach Travis Swank said of Roger Bacon’s defense. “Even though we played Dunbar this year, they didn’t quite come out and get us like that. Just took us out of everything that we were comfortable running the whole year. Felt like any set we called we just couldn’t get the ball to where we wanted to go.”
The loss to Roger Bacon was just Versailles’ second of the season with the Tigers falling to 25-2 overall. Their only previous loss was a 79-70 defeat against Dunbar, a sweet 16 team in Division II.
“You try as best as you can with the resources that you have,” Swank said of preparing for Roger Bacon. “You try to speed them up, you try to throw six guys at our guys in practice, and still sometimes that’s not good enough to simulate what they have out there.”
Versailles, which was ranked No. 2 in the state by the Associated Press, played from behind all night against No. 10 Roger Bacon.
Bacon took an early 5-0 lead with a 3-pointer from Craig McGee and a basket by Alec Pfriem. Versailles got points from Connor Custenborder, Keaton McEldowney, AJ Ahrens and Justin Ahrens in the opening quarter but finished the period down 17-10.
In the second quarter Roger Bacon stymied Versailles’ offense even more, holding the Tigers to just 8 points, as the Spartans increased their advantage to 31-18. Versailles got scoring from Justin Ahrens, AJ Ahrens and Alex Wendel in the second quarter.
Midway through the third quarter Roger Bacon had extended its lead to a game-high 17 points at 37-20. With scoring from AJ Ahrens, Justin Ahrens and Wendel, Versailles was able to pull back within 13 points by the end of the quarter, 40-27.
Versailles didn’t go away quietly in the fourth quarter, twice reducing its deficit to as few as 7 points. But from a 49-42 score Roger Bacon closed out the night on a 12-4 run to secure a 15-point victory, 61-46.
“We clawed ourselves back into the game, got into the single digits, but credit to them their kids stepped up and when we had our opportunities we had some just rim in and out and couldn’t quite get there,” Swank said.
McGee led Roger Bacon with a game-high 17 points on Wednesday. Also for the Spartans, James Johnson scored 15 points, Brandon Bibbs scored 12, Alec Pfriem scored 10, Nick Pfriem scored 4, and Justin Johnson scored 3.
Justin Ahrens led Versailles with 16 points. Also for the Tigers, McEldowney scored 11 points, AJ Ahrens scored 8, Custenborder scored 6, and Wendel scored 5.
“I said earlier if we were going to get beat I wanted us to play well, and I don’t know if we quite played our A-game here tonight,” Swank said.
Along with ending Versailles’ season, Wednesday night’s loss also marked the end of the high school basketball careers of the Tiger seniors: Sam Barga, Connor Custenborder, Austin Knapke and Alex Wendel.
“Being the (junior varsity) coach I was privileged enough to have those guys basically throughout this whole tenure in their high school career,” Swank said. “They mean a lot to me, and I’m glad that they’re my first class to have as far as the varsity coach. They mean a lot to the program. They’ve done everything we’ve asked of them to do. They’re going to be sorely missed next year.”