By Rob Kiser
Call Sports Editor
COLUMBUS — Versailles girls basketball team just kept “pressing”.
And eventually, that and the Lady Tigers depth took a toll in a 67-60 victory over Proctorville-Fairland in the D-III state semifinals Friday at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.
Versailles will play Africentric in the state championship game at 5:15 p.m. today.
“We didn’t exactly get off to the start I was hoping we would,” Jacki Stonebraker said in using a touch of sarcasm.
After a Emily Harman putback had given Versailles a 2-0 lead at the 7:40 mark of the opening quarter, the Lady Dragons scored the next 12 points.
“We were giving up some points in transition,” Stonebraker said.
But, just as quickly, Versailles scored eight points in less than a minute — and when Amanda Winner layed the ball in off a Harman steal, the Lady Tigers were back with in 12-10 with 1:17 remaining in the quarter.
And eventually, Versailles would wear down Fairland.
The Lady Tigers led 26-25 at half — trailed twice by just one point in the third quarter — and took took a 45-41 lead to the fourth quarter that they never relinquished.
And a look at the stat sheet gives a good indication why.
No player for Versailles played more than 23 minutes — while 6-foot-4 post Terra Stapleton played 31 minutes, Chandler Fulks logged 28 and three more Fairland players played 24 or more.
Which might explain why the Lady Dragons went the first 6:13 of the final quarter without a field goal — missing all six attempts from the floor, including three layups.
“People ask me why we press,” Stonebraker, who had different players reach the scoring column, said. “It’s because we can. It wears on you. It makes you think about where you are going to throw the ball.”
As for going up against the 6-4 Stapleton, the D-III Co-Player of the Year in Ohio — Versailles won that matchup all game long.
Christa Puthoff, a 6-2 junior and 6-foot senior Katie Heckman combined for 28 points and 13 rebounds, while Stapleton managed just 11 points and seven rebounds on two of 11 shooting from the floor.
In fact, Versailles outscored Fairland in the paint 28-18 and outrebounded the Dragons 43-31.
“Christa (Puthoff) and Katie (Heckman) both took it right at her,” Stonebraker said. “We pretty much controlled the boards the whole game.”
And while Versailles led by as many as 12 in the fourth quarter, they have shown the ability to create excitement at the end of games — and they didn’t disappoint their fans on this day either.
A layup by Caitlin Stone finished an 8-1 run by Fairland to close within 56-51 with 1:47 remaining — before Lauren Bruns and Brooke Pothast hit a pair of free throws each to take the lead back up to nine and secure the win.
“I was just hoping we had enough to hold on,” Puthoff said with a smile about the late Fairland run. “We had just had to find a way to stay on top.”
Puthoff finished with 15 points and six rebounds, while Heckman added 13 points and grabbed seven boards.
Bruns scored 10 points and had two assists, Pothast had eight points and five assists, Winner grabbed seven rebounds and Chloe Warvel had five rebounds and seven points in a total team effort.
“I am not surprised,” Stonebraker said.
Stone led the Lady Dragons with 15 points and four assists, while Taylor Perry had 13 points and five rebounds to go with Stapleton’s contributions.
Versailles was 23 of 48 from the floor for 48 percent, including one of five from behind the arc for 20 percent. The Lady Tigers converted 20 of 32 free throws for 63 percent.
Fairland was 17 of 55 from the floor for 31 percent, including five of 20 from 3-point range for 25 percent. The Lady Dragons made 21 of 28 free throws for 75 percent.
Versailles had 23 turnovers to Fairland’s 18, but outscored the Dragons 27-11 with their bench.
And Stonebraker said later, there was never a moment of concern — even in the early going.
“There was never a time when I didn’t have confidence them,” Stonebraker.
They just kept “pressing” on.
Amanda Winner 1-1-3, Lauren Bruns 3-4-10, Brooke Pothast 0-8-8, Christa Puthoff 7-1-15, Emily Harman 2-0-4, Chloe Warvel 2-3-7, Katie Heckman 5-3-13, Rachel Kremer 1-0-3, Olivia Schlater 1-0-2, Kayla McEldowney 0-0-0, Courtney Prenger 0-0-0, Shelby Hyre 0-0-0, Tami Groff 0-0-0, Taylor Winner 1-0-2. Totals: 23-20-67.
Terra Stapleton 2-7-11, Chandler Fulks 2-0-5, Kelsey Riley 1-3-5, Caitlin Stone 4-4-15, Taylor Perry 4-4-13, Mackenzie Riley 2-3-7, Jenna Fulks 2-0-4, Bri Dickess 0-0-0. Totals: 17-21-60.
3-point field goals — Versailles: Kremer. Fairlawn: C. Fulks, Stone (3), Perry.
Score By Quarters
Versailles 10 26 45 67
Fairland 14 25 41 60
Records: Versailles 24-3, Fairland 22-4.