By Jim Naveau
LIMA – There was no two-minute warning. Maybe there should have been.
The first two minutes of Versailles’ 64-42 win over Lima Central Catholic on Tuesday night at LCC belonged to the Thunderbirds. The rest of the game was just an orange and black blur of Versailles baskets, rebounds and whatever else the Tigers wanted to do.
Ohio State recruit Justin Ahrens scored 26 points to lead Versailles. He hit 10-of-18 field goal attempts, including six in a row in one stretch. Keaton McEldowney scored 17 points and AJ Ahrens had 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Tre Garner led Central Catholic with 8 points and Raoul Samaroo scored 7.
“They came out with a lot of energy and really had us on our heels for the first couple minutes,” Versailles boys basketball coach Travis Swank said. “We talked about not matching their energy level but going above it and I think we did that.”
Versailles (12-1, ranked No. 8 in the state in Division III) outscored the Thunderbirds 15-0 over the next four minutes after that 7-1 lead and was in control of the game the rest of the way.
The Tigers were up 18-10 after one quarter, 35-19 at halftime and stretched their lead to as many as 27 points in the fourth quarter.
“He’s just a difference maker,” Central Catholic coach Frank Kill said about Justin Ahrens. “He stands out. He’s a guy you can’t match up with. We threw the kitchen sink at him.”
Central Catholic got off to its fast start on a 3-pointer and a 15-footer by Raoul Samaroo and another 15-footer by Bigzz Johnson. But Versailles dominated the rest of the first half, outscoring the Thunderbirds 34-12 over the next 14 minutes to take its 35-19 halftime lead.
Justin Ahrens had 17 of his points in the first half. He was 6-of-8 on field goals and hit his last five in a row.
Versailles was more than a one-man show in the first half, though, with McEldowney scoring 12 in the half.