It was a little something old, something new, a few things borrowed…and the only thing blue was the opponent. Versailles romped over Delphos St. John in Tuesday’s girls home opener.
Versailles – One could assume by the 77-49 final score that just three games into the 2018-19 season Jacki Stonebraker’s 2018-19 basketball team hasn’t missed a beat.
Stonebraker, by the way, was presented with a cake prior to Tuesday’s home opener against Delpho St. John in recognition of her 300th career coaching win this past weekend in the Tri-Village Tournament.
And given that her team came out and blew away DSJ, shooting 48% from the field, and nearly that well from three-point range…well, one might assume that the second 300 will come as easy as the first. And this from a group missing significant pieces from back-to-back state final teams the last two years.
And well, for the sake of being a bit facetious, she’s right, of course. Coaches seldom see the levity in tongue-in-cheek, win or lose.
But, for the efficiency with which the Lady Tigers played against a scrappy Delphos bunch that battled all night to lose by a more respectable margin, it didn’t look like a team missing Danielle Winner and Kami McEldowney playing in just its third game. Rather, it looked like a team with Lindsey Winner (14 pts), Caitlan McEldowney (12 pts), Danielle Kunk (13 pts) and Brooke Stonebraker (15 pts) playing in mid-season form. All four scored in double figures and in total the Tigers’ offense featured nine that scored.
In fact, it looked like a little old, a little new, a few things borrowed from tradition…and the only thing blue was Delphos St. John, who wore blue road uniforms.
“We came out and played pretty well in the first quarter,” said Stonebraker, an understatement. Versailles led 17-0 before Delphos ever scored a point.
“We had some of the best ball movement and defensive transition that we’ve done for a long time, and especially for three games, and after being a little sloppy in our first two games. Our three-point shooting was good, and our offensive rebounding was much better.”
The three-point shooting part was shouldered by Caitlan McEldowney, who canned two in the first quarter, three for the half, and ended with four for the game – all twelve of her points. And in fact she looked eerily like Kami, on those nights when she would was in the zone.
But McEldowney had help. Junior Danielle Kunk scored nine of her thirteen points from behind the arc, including one from the left wing that caromed in from high off the board. Apparently the banks in Versailles don’t close until AFTER the Tigers’ games.
But the point was…with significant time lost to their state title run in volleyball the Tigers looked none the worse for a late start. They played with instinct, with familiarity, and enthusiasm for both ends of the court. It seemed to come easy, even if it was just the first of Stonebraker’s next 300.
“We don’t like to practice, anyway,” said Stonebraker. “The girls, the boys…they’d rather play games than practice. The late start hasn’t set us back, there’s just some things we need to work on, and we don’t mind working on them in game situations. It’s been nice to get some games under our belts like we have to find out what we have to fix; and good games, given the two overtime wins. I think we showed we had the kind of grit you need to keep playing and win. That comes from having a winning tradition.”
Besides the afore-mentioned in double figures, Liz Ording had 8 points, Savannah Toner finished with 6, Kelsey Custenborder had 5, and Rachel Lyons and Hannah Barga each had two points.
For Delphos, they finally did get the deficit down to twenty points in the third quarter, but Versailles simply had too much depth off the bench and eventually won by 28. That said, the Blue Jays got an outstanding effort from Paige Gaynier with 19 points, and teammate Betty Vorst finished with 18.
At 3-0 one can say that it’s a great start with quality wins over Chaminade-Julienne and Tri-Village, and a comfortable win over DSJ, who’s in the midst of an obvious rebuild. If they DO like to play rather than practice, Stonebraker’s Tigers have the satisfaction of knowing that Minster, Marion, New Bremen and Fort Recovery are just ahead…along with a brutal non-con schedule that features Fort Loramie, Anna and Tipp City.
So, Jacki Stonebraker went home to enjoy her cake, knowing full well that the second 300 will come just as tough as the first. After sixteen seasons she’s quit reading headlines…a long time ago.