There are still loads of Midwest Athletic Conference games to be sorted out before anyone is crowned as the boy’s league champion this season, and that process will continue with a contest on Friday in Versailles between the 8-0 Versailles Tigers and 6-4 St. Henry Redskins. The Tigers enter Friday’s matchup at 3-0 in MAC play after upending New Bremen, New Knoxville, and Parkway already this season, while St. Henry’s 2-0 mark in league action is the result of victories over Minster and New Knoxville.
The Redskins have had a heart-breaking go of it in the first half of the season as two of their four losses have been in overtime, while the other two are by a combined three points on buzzer-beaters. They average 56.2 point each time they take the floor, while allowing 48 points. Ryan Mikesell has put together a phenomenal season to this point by averaging 23.4 and nearly ten rebounds per game, while Tyler Schwieterman has hit for 9.6 points per game. “A variety of small details have cost us in all four of our losses,” head coach Eric Rosenbeck pointed out. “Whether it is missing a rebound, missing a switch, or missing a free throw; we have consistently shot ourselves in the foot late in games with an opportunity to win. Good teams make their own luck, so if we want to be a good team, we need to start shoring up the minor details before the last 30 seconds of the game.”
Despite the quick start to the season, Versailles will be hampered the rest of the way after losing Division I-recruit Kyle Ahrens to a leg injury for the remainder of the season. Although they will certainly miss Ahrens, the Tigers will still be a potent team to deal with in the coming months. “They are long, athletic, and can really push the issue on both offense and defense,” Rosenbeck explained. “We need to take care of the basketball, rebound, and execute our game plan on offense and defense for a full game. We can’t just do it 50 or 60 percent, or wherever we have been thus far in the year if we want to win on Friday.”
Since winning their own holiday tournament right after Christmas with victories over West Liberty Salem and Anna, the Tigers tallied wins last weekend over Parkway on Friday by 21 points and the following night over Fort Loramie, 59-50. “The team was right on track until Kyle’s injury,” Versailles head coach Scott McEldowney pointed out. “I still really love the progress of every player and the team overall, but it’s like starting all over again without Kyle. We have a lot of talent that can still do great things, but you cannot replace a player of his caliber. The team has maintained a positive attitude and is working harder than ever – we are a veteran team that will still pursue the same goals we had at the beginning of the year.”
In order to move to 9-0 on the season, Versailles will host a Redskin squad that handed them their first loss of the season last year at this time. “St. Henry is very talented team that has one of the best players in the league in Ryan Mikesell,” McEldowney commented. “We must contain him and keep everyone else in check. We must also limit our turnovers against their full court and half court pressure in order to come away with the win this week.”
by Robb Hemmelgarn