A tough start did not bode well for Versailles Friday night.
The Tigers hosted Tri-County Conference foe Blair Oaks for Courtwarming and the first quarter dictated the outcome of the game as Versailles fell to the visitors 81 to 51.
Blair Oaks jumped out to an early 5-0 lead as the Tigers were held scoreless for the first three-and-a-half minutes, but the home team quickly tied it back up. However, the Falcons went on a 20-2 run to end the quarter and extended their lead to 49-25 by halftime, creating a deficit that would be too steep to overcome.
“It is a possession game,” Versailles coach Jason Ollison said of his team’s early offensive woes. “We are not worried about the first, second or third quarter, but this possession and, ‘What I can do for this possession.’ At times, I feel like we did a real good job of that, but it took us a while to get into that mindset… They’ll get calmed down and get it figured out.”
Turnovers did not necessarily plague the Tigers on Friday night, but Blair Oaks did not allow many easy shots or open looks at the basket either. The Falcons had an effective combination of size advantage to utilize inside the paint and sharpshooters on the outside that propelled them to jump out to an early lead.
“They (Blair Oaks) played really well tonight and I feel like we were right there with them. Tonight, we just did not execute offensively like we’ve been executing and a lot of that was the way they guarded,” Ollison pointed out. “They are a good defensive team, but we were right there with them.
“My guys cannot hang their head. We have to get back to work and understand we have things to work on, but consistency is our key right now. When we start getting consistent, we are going to take off,” the coach added.
Versailles sophomore point guard Coby Williams led the Tigers with 27 points while junior guard Wyatt Espinosa finished his night with 11 and fellow junior guard Ayrton Gennetten recorded six. Versailles 6-foot-5 senior forward Jonathon Geier had an unusually low-scoring night with just four points, but the Falcon defense was sharp and it did not exactly help matters that he and Espinosa had to spend a little extra time on the bench with early foul trouble.
“Our guys were still out there getting after it and I thought that Jonathon and Wyatt played really well with foul trouble late in the game. They were out there still trying to guard and that was good to see,” Ollison said. “Coby also does so many good things for us as far as putting points on the board and doing some things.
“As a team, the effort and concentration was there, but we just did not execute and you have nights like that. That is the joy of coaching high school kids.”
The conference opener may not have been particularly enjoyable, but for Ollison and his crew it is onto the next game as they don’t intend to spend any time lingering on the loss.
“I just got done telling them, ‘Put it to bed and go watch Southern Boone film,’ because that is our next worry. We can’t sit around and worry about what happened here tonight,” Ollison stated. “We just have to move on to the next thing and the next thing is Southern Boone Tuesday night so hopefully we’ll be ready for them, go out there and compete and maybe get our fist conference win.”
On a side note, there was a bit of good news Friday night as Ollison took the time to commend the eighth graders for winning the Warsaw Tournament with a win over El Dorado Springs in the championship.
“I’m proud of those guys tonight. We got guys coming up, so it is going to be good,” the coach noted.
Versailles (7-6, 0-1 Tri-County Conference) will visit the Eagles for another conference clash at 7 p.m. The Tigers will look to continually get better with one goal in mind- peaking at the right time for the district tournament in February.
“Like we preach all the time, we play for February,” Ollison remarked. “That is what we want. The district tournament is what we are most worried about, so as long as we keep improving to there, we are going to be ok.”