Versailles defeated Arcanum to move on in the OHSAA Boys DIII Sectional Tournament

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Tigers coach Travis Swank and team applaud the play on the court. Versailles pulled away in the 4th quarter to advance in tournament play. (Dale Barger Photo)

VANDALIA – Two Darke County Schools: Arcanum and Versailles squared off at the Butler Student Activity Center in Vandalia in an OHSAA DIII Boys Basketball Sectional game.  The Tigers got separation midway through the 4th quarter and finished strong to capture a 52-40 win over the Trojans and advance in the tournament.

The news for Arcanum wasn’t good before the game with their leading scorer Regan Christ unable to play due to sickness and the Trojans knew from the start they would need to play flawless and dig deep to try and make up the 15.5 ppg game from their leading scorer.

The Tigers jumped on top 10-5 behind the play of Jace Watren 6 points and Carson Heitkamp 4 points by the 3-minute mark of the 1st quarter.

Jace Watren helped the Tigers race out to an early 10-4 lead in game with Arcanum. (Dale Barger Photo)

But the Trojans appeared up to the task answering the early lead on triple from Landon Flatter and 2 free throws from Matthew McCans to tie the game while holding the Tigers scoreless over the least 3 minutes for a 10-10 tie at the end of the opening quarter.

Arcanum then jumped in front on a McCans triple to start the 2nd period, but the Tigers clawed back.  Shots weren’t falling in the paint, but Versailles was relentless with 2nd and 3rd effort scoring 7 straight for a 17-13 lead at the 3:10 mark.

“We had a lot of missed shots and when that happens you got to have guys go get it and I thought we did that for the most part and got some easy second chance points. So, when you’re not hitting, you got to manufacture them in different ways. And we were able to do that with our offensive rebounding,” Versailles coach Travis Swank said.

Carson Heitkamp 2nd effort hustle proved to be big for Versailles. (Dale Barger photo)

Versailles got scoring from 5 guys in the 2nd quarter 4 from AJ Griesdorn, 2 each from Ethan Wilker and Watren along with 1 each from Drake Ahrens and Heitkamp for a 20-17 lead at the break.

“We put an emphasis on our rotations when the shot goes up, how we rebound out of the zone but they had a lot of guys there in short corners and a guy in the middle and nine times out of 10 it was a three on one opportunity with our middle guy, so they got a lot of second chance opportunities, although it hurt us, we felt good at halftime like it was anybody’s ballgame,” Arcanum coach Kevin Brackman stated.

Arcanum got 7 points from Brady Lock in the 1st half who got hot and added 7 more in the 3rd quarter as the Trojans battled to keep the game close.

Brady Lock would provide most of the offense for Arcanum leading the way with 18 points. (Dale Barger Photo)

But Versailles scored 15 points in the 3rd quarter with 5 different players contributing for a 35-27 lead heading into the final frame.

The lead swelled to 41-27 by the 6:38 mark of the 4th quarter and the Tigers were content with holding the ball out on the perimeter trying to get Arcanum to come out of their 2-3 zone.

With time dwindling down coach Brackman had come out of the zone and initially they were able to turn Versailles over for a few quick scores from Lock, Flatter and Cameron Ball to close the gap back down to 41-35.

But the 4th quarter belonged to sophomore Drake Ahrens as the quick and speedy left-hander was able to exploit the open floor and attack the basket either converting a lay-up or getting to the free throw line.

Drake Ahrens took over the game in the 4th quarter scoring 11 points including a dunk. (Dale Barger photo)

Drake would score 11 of his 17 points in the final frame as the Tigers pulled away in the last 4 minutes going on to claim a 52-40 win.

While Brackman didn’t want to focus on not having his top scorer for the game he was pleased with the overall execution by his team and the way they competed giving themselves a chance in the game.

Arcanum Brady Lock led all scorers with 18 points which would be a career high for the senior.  Landon Flatter had 7, Matthew McCans 5, Lance Brinksneader and Braylen Etherington 3 each, Cameron Ball and Luke Henninger each had 2 points.

Landon Flatter drives to the basket in the 3rd quarter. (Dale Barger Photo)

Brackman in his first year is excited about what the overall program has accomplished and what they have coming back.

“I feel like we’ve set the foundation for what our future is for our program and we’re excited going 37-1 between our freshman and JV teams. I’m also thankful for what our seniors brought to the table every day to make those young guys better,” Brackman commented.

Our senior set into motion the future of the program and they came in as a core group, these 7  guys led the way and stepped into a role and won 13 games,” Brackman concluded.

The Trojans lacked size but Luke Henninger worked hard on the glass pulling down this rebound. (Dale Barger Photo)

The Trojans varsity team finished the season 13-10 overall and 7-4 in the WOAC.

Versailles was led by Drake Ahrens 17, Carson Heitkamp 13, Jace Watren 11, Ethan Wilker 6 and AJ Griesdorn 5 points.

Travis Swank was complimentary of the play by Carson Heitkamp and Drake Ahrens after the game.

Gabe White lines up a perimeter shot in game with arcanum. (Dale Barger Photo)

“Carson Heitkamp was big tonight on the offensive boards, it felt like we needed every single one of them he was just a presence all night long. And that’s what he’s been for us for most of the year, but you got to remember this is his really first tournament game action playing behind Connor Stonebreaker last year, we were pleased with how he played here today,” Swank exclaimed.

The Tigers will play next on Saturday vs Indian Lake a team they defeated by 10 points 59-49 back on Valentines day.  That game is 5:30 pm at Vandalia Butler High School.