Minster, Ohio — The undefeated Versailles Tigers have won a lot of close games this season so far. Versailles traveled up to Minster to battle the Wildcats of Minster as Minster tried to improve their conference record with just a few weeks left until the OHSAA seeds would be given out. Versailles came in fresh off of a close win over Fort Loramie this past Saturday as the Tigers escaped with a one-point win.
Minster forward Justin Nixon got the momentum started early for the Wildcats as he made a nice spin move for an easy layup. Versailles senior guard Michael Stammen kicked it out to fellow senior Ryan Martin for the open three. Nixon continued to dominate the Versailles defense as he got bucket after bucket. Then Minster guard Bryan Falk drilled a three and they were suddenly up 9-7. Stammen made a nice move and knocked down the three but a Jacob Salazar three-pointer put Minster up 16-14 at the end of the 1st quarter.
Stammen got the second quarter started by driving past the defender and scoring an easy layup. Both teams started to trade buckets as Falk and Stammen went head to head scoring on each other. A Kody Naftzger jumper put Versailles up 23-18. Minster senior Jacob Salazar nailed another deep three as the Wildcats tied the game at 25 apiece and then Ryan Martin’s buzzer-beater attempt was swatted so the Wildcats and Tigers were tied going into halftime.
The 3rd quarter brought the same intensity as the first two did. Stammen and Nixon went back and forth getting bucket after bucket on each other. Then with Versailles leading 31-29, Stammen kicked it out to sophomore Ben Ruhenkamp who nailed a three-ball to put the Tigers up 34-29. Versailles wasn’t done there though as Stammen found Kody Naftzger in the corner for another three. Then to cap off the run, Eli McEldowney passed it out to Ruhenkamp for yet another three as Versailles now led 40-29 at the end of the 3rd quarter.
Minster was down by 12 in the 4th quarter and Justin Nixon went to work. Nixon controlled the offensive boards as he owned Versailles in the paint and led a comeback that got Minster within 2. Versailles had the ball and were up 45-43. Stammen dribbled down the sideline and ran into a Minster guard. The call looked as though it would have been a blocking foul or charging foul but instead, the referees called Stammen out-of-bounds, giving Minster the ball. Minster gave the ball inside to Nixon. He drove past Austin Toner but missed the layup to tie. Stammen pulled down the rebound and was fouled with under 20 seconds to go. Stammen’s nose began to bleed which would later take him out of the game. He made the first free throw but missed the second keeping it at a one-possession game. Minster decided to go for a quick two instead of the three to tie. Nixon missed and Kody Naftzger pulled down the rebound. Leading 46-43 with 5.2 seconds left, Naftzger could have put the game away with one of his two foul shots but missed both. Falk pulled down the rebound and Minster called a timeout. With 4.3 seconds left the Wildcats inbounded it to half court. They gave the ball to Jacob Salazar who banked in a half-court shot. He was fouled just before he shot it though, and they called it a foul on the floor and no shot. With 1.9 seconds left the Wildcats’ inbound pass was tipped away and Versailles survived yet another road test as they won 46-43.
Michael Stammen finished with 16 points in the win, Ben Ruhenkamp had 11 points for the Tigers as well. Justin Nixon finished with 20 points in the dominant performance and Bryan Falk added on 9 points. Versailles’ poor foul shooting almost lost them the game as they went 13/25 from the line in the close win.
Versailles will need to bounce back quickly from this close win as they battle Anna on Saturday night and hope to keep their undefeated record. Minster has a tough game against Jackson Center on Saturday night as well.