State final: Versailles (23-5) will take on Ottawa Glandorf (25-3) in Saturday morning’s Division III championship game. Glandorf rallied from a 54-48 deficit with 70 seconds to go to defeat Ironton (23-3) 61-60 in overtime. Glandorf is making its seventh state appearance and won titles in 2004 and 2008. Versailles is making its second state appearance and was state runner-up in 2004.
Rebounds: In Thursday’s 64-52 loss to Versailles, LaBrae was outrebounded 35-26. Peyton Aldridge led the Vikings with nine rebounds and John Richards had five. For the Tigers, Chad Winner pulled down seven rebounds and Kyle Ahrens five.
Best players: Aldridge and Ahrens have played before in AAU competition. “He’s a great player,” said Aldridge of the sophomore who already has a scholarship offer from Boston College. “He was a lot more aggressive, but that might be because he was playing for his high school team.”
Stopping Aldridge: Versailles coach Scott McEldowney said his halftime speech encouraged his players to get more physical with Aldridge. “We talked about getting into his body a little bit more,” McEldowney said. “Just break him off stride, especially off the screen-and-rolls. It seemed like when he got a head of steam going, it was tough for us to defend.”
Difference-maker: LaBrae coach Chad Kiser said two missed 3-point attempts early in the third quarter hurt. “We took a couple of quick 3s and [they] didn’t go in. You make those and and it’s different — they’ve got to come out and play some man-to-man. We didn’t want to have to settle for the three in the second half but we ended up having to do that.”
Pace: LaBrae outscored Versailles 23-12 in the second quarter for a 37-33 lead. “We like to play at a fast pace and we know they did, too” McEldowney said. “Sometimes it was a little too fast for me in that first half.”
Richard recovers: Versailles junior guard Damien Richard started the game on fire, scoring 11 points in the first quarter as the Tigers opened up a 21-14 lead. “In warm-ups, I was dialing in pretty good,” Richard said. “Once I hit a few shots, I had a lot of confidence so I kept shooting.” The lead grew to 10 when Richard slammed into teammate Jacob Heithamp and hurt his ankle. The Vikings launched their comeback while Richard received medical attention, scoring nine straight points before he returned. “That’s part of the reason we made that run,” LaBrae coach Chad Kiser said.
Nerves: McEldowney expected both teams to be nervous. “We had made it one time. I knew we would be a little nervous and it was their first trip [to state].”
Attendance: The OHSAA announced an attendance of 9,514.