By Rob Kiser
VERSAILLES — Mark one off Danielle Winner’s bucket list.
And that is saying something.
There is not much left for the Versailles girls basketball seniors to accomplish when it comes to athletic endeavors.
Winner and Kami McEldowney were a key part of Versailles’ D-III state championship in basketball as freshman — and were state runnerups a year ago.
They are coming off a state championship in volleyball this fall.
But, not until a 56-37 win Thursday night over St. Henry completed an 8-0 run through the MAC in basketball this year had they won a league title in basketball.
Versailles is 20-1 overall, while St. Henry is 12-9 and finished 3-5 in MAC play.
“It was on my bucket list,” Winner said with a smile. “That MAC has been really competitive in basketball, so it has been a battle.”
McEldowney was equally excited as Queen’s “We are the Champions” was played in the gym and coach Jacki Stonebraker handed out MAC championship basketball shirts to her players.
“We have a list of all our goals in the locker room,” McEldowney said. “For sure, it was (a big goal). I just think is freakin’ amazing to be part of this league and get to play against this great competition every night.”
And it is the MAC — so St. Henry wasn’t about to make it easy.
“Every game is a tough game,” Stonebraker said about going undefeated in the MAC. “It is pretty impressive (going through the MAC undefeated). We haven’t won one of these since Kami (McEldowney) and Danielle (Winner) have been here, which is pretty amazing when you think about it.”
And midway through the second quarter, the game was a 15-15 deadlock.
But, Caitlin McEldowney hit two threes and Elizabeth Ording scored five points in a 20-2 second span as Versailles went on a 16-2 run to go up 31-17.
“It is the MAC,” Danielle Winner said. “It is a tough game every night.”
Versailles still led 31-21 and the Lady Tigers were able to maintain and build on that lead in the second half to finish off the win.
“Of course, we were going to win (the MAC either way),” McEldowney said. “We had already clinched a share. But, you want to go out and earn it with a win.”
As a coach, Stonebraker saw both sides of the hard-earned victory.
“You have to give St. Henry credit,” Stonebraker said. “Those girls played hard. The St. Henry girls really hustled. But, at the same time, I saw a lot of breakdowns on defense that we needed to get fixed. We were able to get some good looks we didn’t finish on.”
Ording led the Tigers with 13 points.
McEldowney scored 12 and Danielle Winner had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Nikki Keller led St. Henry with seven points.
Versailles was 22 of 51 from the floor for 43 percent and eight of 15 from the line for 53 percent.
St. Henry was 17 of 41 from the floor for 41 percent and one of two from the line for 50 percent.
Versailles won the battle of the boards 29-16 and had 16 turnovers to St. Henry’s 17.
Now, the Lady Tigers are near the time they shine — the postseason.
“It is my favorite time of the season,” Winner said. “Everybody starts out 0-0 and you see what you can do.”
While Stonebraker agrees, she knows there is one more challenge before that — when Jackson Center visits Saturday.
It will be the final home game for McEldowney, Winner, Ellen Peters, Hailey McEldowney and Mallory Marshal.
“It (the postseason) is my favorite time too,” Stonebraker said with a smile. “But, we have one more tribute game for our seniors. And we want to finish unbeaten at home.”
And give Winner another chance to check one off her bucket list.
St. Henry (37)
Addy Vaughn 2-0-4, Allison Siefring 2-0-4, Marlee Vaughn 2-0-5, Nora Vaughn 2-0-4, Nikki Keller 3-1-7, Alyssa Buschur 2-0-5, Cora Stammen 3-0-6, Carleigh Deitsch 0-0-0, Emma Muhlenkamp 0-0-0, Danielle Imel 1-0-2. Totals: 17-1-37.
Versailles ( 56)
Kami McEldowney 4-2-12, Caitlin McEldowney 2-0-6, Ellen Peters 0-0-0, Elizabeth Ording 5-3-13, Danielle Winner 4-2-10, Lindsey Winner 2-0-4, Hailey McEldowney 2-0-4, Danielle Kunk 1-0-2, Kelsey Custenborder 2-1-5, Mallory Marshal 0-0-0. Totals: 22-8-56.
3-point field goals — St. Henry: M. Vaughn, Buschur. Versailles: K. McEldowney (2), C. McEldowney (2).
Score By Quarters
St. Henry 13 21 29 37
Versailles 15 31 41 56
Records: Versailles 20-1 (8-0), St. Henry 12-9 (3-5).
Reserve score: Versailles 64, St. Henry 8.