TIPP CITY — Little did Versailles girls basketball coach Jacki Stonebraker know what was about to transpire when Amanda Winner closed the first quarter with a steal and layup and then opened the second quarter with another basket to put the Lady Tigers up 19-3 against Arcanum in a D-III sectional final Thursday night at Tippecanoe High School.
By halftime, the game was tied 29-29 and Versailles was in a fight for their lives, before escaping with a 64-56 victory.
Versailles will play the CHCA-Georgetown winner a week from Saturday at Springfield High School in the district finals.
“Everything looked great (when it was 19-3),” Stonebraker said. “It looked like we were ready to play. And then we didn’t play very well at all the last three quarters.”
The final score was even a little closer than indicated.
Arcanum had tied the game at 55 with 2:40 to go on two free throws by Abby O’Donnell.
Katie Heckman, who finished with a season-high 24 points, quickly answered with basket for the Tigers to make it 57-55.
But, with 1:49 remaining, after a missed Versailes free throw — Arcanum had the ball trailing just 57-56.
“Our free throw shooting wasn’t very good,” Stonebracker said.
Versailles was able to make the clutch plays the rest of the way, though — to earn its first trip to the district tournament in four years.
Heckman came up with a big rebound, which led to a putback at the other end by Christa Puthoff to make it 59-56.
After two clutch free throws by Olivia Schlater, Puthoff had a block at the other end which led to a jump ball with 25.8 seconds remaining, giving possession back to the Lady Tigers.
Heckman hit two free throws and Schlater added one to finish off the 64-56 victory.
“The girls are happy — we hadn’t gotten out of Tipp the last four years,” Stonebraker said. “But, we have to play better if we want to keep going in the tournament.”
After O’Donnell’s 3-point play had gotten Arcanum within 4-3 in the early going — the Lady Tigers ran off 15 straight points to make it 19-3.
But, Arcanum would score 26 points in the second quarter — including 14 by sophomore Alexis Abner and nine on a hat trick of 3-pointers by freshman Stevie Johnting.
It was a battle the rest of the way, with Versailles dominating in the paint — and Arcnaum countering by making its first 11 free throws and finishing 16 of 19 from the line to the Lady Tigers 13 of 23.
Heckman also grabbed seven rebounds for Versailles, while Puthoff added 12 points to the cause.
Abner finished with 19 points for the Lady Trojans, while O’Donnell had 14 points and nine rebounds in her final game.
Brittany Kinney, another freshman, added 13 points and a trio of 3-pointers for Arcanum.
Abby Rose 0-0-0, Alexis Abner 7-5-19, Stevie Johnting 3-0-9, Abbey O’Donnell 3-8-14, Brittany Kinney 4-2-13, Rebecca Deao 0-1-1, Shelby Howard 0-0-0. Totals: 17-16-56.
Rachel Kremer 2-0-5, Lauren Bruns 2-2-6, Christa Puthoff 6-0-12, Emily Harman 2-1-5, Amanda Winner 2-3-7, Katie Heckman 10-4-24, Kayla McEldowney 0-0-0, Olivia Schlater 1-3-5, Taylor Winner 0-0-0, Courtney Prenger 0-0-0. Totals: 25-13-64.
3-point field goals — Johnting (3), Kinney (3). Versailles: Kremer.
Score By Quarters
Arcanum3 29 43 56
Versailles 17 29 49 64
Records: Arcanum 18-5, Versailles 20-3.