COLUMBUS — Thursday’s Division III boys state basketball semifinal showdown between Versailles and Leavittsburg Labrae proved to be a tale of two halves.
Labrae led 37-33 at halftime after hitting a sizzling 65 perfect of its shots from the field, but Versailles clamped down on the Vikings in the second half. The Tigers held Labrae to just 23 percent shooting and to just 15 points total in the final two quarters in pulling away to a 64-52 victory.
The Tigers (23-5) advance to Saturday’s D-III state title tilt to face Ottawa-Glandorf, a 61-60 winner over Ironton in the early D-III semifinal.
“It was a tale of two halves,” stated Labrae coach Chad Kiser. “We were able to turn the tempo around in the second quarter and we forced them to take contested shots. We knew they would come out in the second half and play that 2-3 zone, and they did a great job of keeping the ball out of Peyton’s (Aldridge) hands. That really hurt us.”
Damien Richard (6-3, junior, guard) and Kyle Ahrens (6-5, soph, guard) each finished with 21 points to power the Tigers, who shot 47 percent for the game, but 54.5 percent in the second half. Chad Winner added eight points and seven boards for Versailles, which finished as state runner-up in 2004 in its only other state appearance.
Peyton Aldridge (6-7, junior, forward) hit 10-of-15 shots, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, to finish with a game-high 23 points for the Vikings (24-4), with 16 coming in the first two quarters. Aldridge added a game-high nine boards, and was the only player in double digits for Labrae, which was making its state debut.
“Aldridge is a great player, he hit a lot of tough shots, said Versailles mentor Scott McEldowney. “We had to take the ball out of his hands, and fortunately in the second half we were able to do that.”
Said Aldridge: “We played well the first half, but we got a little impatient in the second half and they capitalized.”