COLUMBUS — Versailles dug itself a hole in the first quarter of Saturday’s Division III state championship game that the Tigers couldn’t overcome, losing 49-37 to Columbus Africentric Early College.
Versailles never led in the game as Africentric scored the first six points and 10 of the first 12 with only Brooke Pothast scoring in the first five minutes for the Tigers.
Versailles’ gameplan was to take care of the ball, coach Jacki Stonebraker said, but Africentric’s pressure was so good and allowed the Nubians to take it to the Tigers in the state championship game at Ohio State’s Jerome Schottenstein Center.
“We knew we had to handle the ball,” Stonebraker said. “We got ourselves in a deep hole against a team like that (Africentric). They were (bad matchups). Because we rely on our athletic ability, too, and they were just so quick.”
Africentric had 12 steals compared to three for Versailles, and Versailles turned the ball over 24 times compared to 14 for Africentric.
Katie Heckman and Emily Harman added some points late in the first quarter for Versailles, but the Tigers trailed 16-6 at the end of the opening period.
Versailles never cut its deficit to fewer than six points the rest of the game with Africentric leading by as many as 15 points midway through the second quarter.
Free throws by Pothast and Harman cut Africentric’s lead to six points early in the second quarter, but then the Nubians went on a 9-0 run to go up 26-11.
Christa Puthoff and Chloe Warvel broke the scoring drought for Versailles, which outscored Africentric 14-13 in the second period, but the Tigers trailed 29-20 going into halftime.
While Versailles was able to put some runs together to keep the game within striking distance, the Tigers couldn’t get any offensive flow, Stonebraker said.
She attributed that to Africentric’s defense. Africentric also did a great job of handling any pressure Versailles tried to apply, Stonebraker said.
Africentric’s 6-foot 2-inch senior Alexa Hart only played seven minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, but the future Ohio State women’s basketball player had six blocks in the timeframe.
Versailles’ Puthoff said it seemed like there were hands everywhere, and Harman said there was so much pressure coming from the Nubians that it was tough to adjust.
“It was frustrating (the defense of Africentric),” Puthoff said. “But, it seems like there are always hands in your face.”
Africentric outscored Versailles 12-6 in the third quarter, scoring the final six points of the period to increase its lead to 41-26.
Versailles outscored Africentric 11-8 in the fourth quarter but couldn’t get closer than 10 points, culminating in a 49-37 loss for the Tigers, who finish the season as the Division III state runner up.
“We are like sisters, we are so close,” Harman said. “We all did things together. We just want to keep this season going to the final game, so we could play together for as long as possible.”
Harman and Puthoff led Versailles with nine points each in the loss. Also for the Tigers, Pothast scored seven points, Heckman scored four, Warvel scored four, Lauren Bruns scored two, and Rachel Kremer scored two.
Sierra Harley led Africentric with a game-high 14 points in the state championship game. Also for the Nubians, Alexis Parks scored 12 points, Hart scored nine, Kyrah Jones scored four, Ayrielle Stith scored four, Dejanique Franks scored two, Dayuna Johnson scored two, and Darianne Seward scored two.
The state championship gave Africentric its fourth girls basketball state title, which is tied for fifth most in OHSAA history, since 2007.
With the loss Versailles finished as the state runner up in girls basketball for the first time in program history. It was the sixth appearance in the state final four for the team and second appearance in the state championship game, having won state in 2008.
The loss also marked the end of the high school basketball careers of Versailles’ nine seniors — Harman, Heckman, Kremer, Kayla McEldowney, Pothast, Courtney Prenger, Olivia Schlater, Warvel and Amanda Winner.
“I wouldn’t trade my team for any team in the state,” Stonebraker said. “The seniors are all special in their own way. Some are vocal leaders, some are patient — some are quiet leaders, girls that the underclassmen could just sit and talk to when they had questions.”
Versailles vs Africentric
03/15/14 5:15 p.m. at Value City Arena (Columbus, Ohio)
At Value City Arena (Columbus, Ohio)
AFRICENTRIC 49, VERSAILLES 37
Harman, Emily 3-6 3-3 9; Puthoff, Christa 4-11 1-2 9; Pothast, Brooke 2-6
3-4 7; Warvel, Chloe 1-4 2-2 4; Heckman, Katie 0-0 4-6 4; Bruns, Lauren 0-4
2-2 2; Kremer, Rachel 1-2 0-0 2; McEldowney, Kayla 0-1 0-0 0; Prenger,
Courtney 0-1 0-0 0; Schlater, Olivia 0-0 0-0 0; Winner, Amanda 0-5 0-0 0.
Totals 11-40 15-19 37.
Harley, Sierra 4-7 4-4 14; Parks, Alexis 4-6 3-5 12; Hart, Alexa 4-9 1-3 9;
Jones, Kyrah 1-5 2-4 4; Stith, Ayrielle 2-8 0-0 4; Johnson, Dayuna 0-1 2-2
2; Franks, Dejanique 1-3 0-0 2; Seward, Darianne 1-8 0-0 2; Morrow, Leah 0-0
0-0 0; Denham, De’jae 0-1 0-0 0; Azubike, Kennedy 0-0 0-0 0; Nixon, Taylor
0-0 0-0 0; Waters, Renee 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-49 12-18 49.
Versailles……………….. 6 14 6 11 - 37
Africentric………………. 16 13 12 8 - 49
3-point goals—Versailles 0-2 (; Kremer, Rachel 0-1; McEldowney, Kayla 0-1),
Africentric 3-9 (Harley, Sierra 2-3; Parks, Alexis 1-1; Stith, Ayrielle 0-1;
Franks, Dejanique 0-1; Seward, Darianne 0-1; Denham, De’jae 0-1; Waters,
Renee 0-1). Fouled out—Versailles-None, Africentric-None.
Rebounds—Versailles 34 (Puthoff, Christa 6), Africentric 32 (Jones, Kyrah
9). Assists—Versailles 4 (Bruns, Lauren 1; Winner, Amanda 1; Harman, Emily
1; Pothast, Brooke 1), Africentric 12 (Seward, Darianne 2; Parks, Alexis 2;
Stith, Ayrielle 2; Franks, Dejanique 2; Harley, Sierra 2). Total
fouls—Versailles 14, Africentric 16. Technical fouls—Versailles-None,