By Chris Chaney
Perhaps the sneakiest good team in Clermont County, the Felicity-Franklin Lady Cardinals have opened the 2013-14 season 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the Southern Buckeye Conference’s National Division, one game behind league-leading Georgetown.
“So far, things have gone pretty great,” Felicity head coach Kerry Stamper said. “(The team) has been really aggressive and have gotten really energized by the start of this season.”
Winning their first four games — three of which were against divisional opponents — the Lady Cardinals showed some mettle, closing out tight games over Bethel-Tate (36-35), Blanchester (49-43) and Batavia (44-34).
Felicity’s calling card has been their defensive pressure. Running different looks at opponents, from a full-court man-to-man press to playing an extended zone in the half-court, Stamper’s team keeps opponents on their heels and opposing coaches looking for their whiteboards.
“Kelsey Arkenau is always a big contributor on the defensive end,” Stamper said. “Brittany Drake is great for us under the boards and she also gets a lot of rebounds for us.”
Offensively, Felicity relies upon sophomore Ashley Moore to do the lion’s share of the scoring. Averaging 13.2 points per game, 7.0 steals and 5.6 rebounds, Moore has proved to be a versatile piece of the Lady Cardinals scheme while her teammates continue to grow into more confident roles on the offensive end.
Felicity’s lone loss of the year came on Dec. 12 as the Lady G-Men traveled to Felicity for a first-place matchup.
“We hit a little roadblock there with Georgetown,” Stamper said. “We always get fired up about that game and I think maybe we let that get in our heads a little bit.
“We only shot 15 percent (7-46) from the field.”
In a low-scoring affair to start, Georgetown scored their first points with under five seconds remaining in the first quarter, tying the game at 2 after eight minutes. The second quarter was a completely different story with the Lady G-Men outscoring Felicity 18-3 and taking a 20-5 halftime lead.
Much of the Lady Cardinals offensive deficiency came as a result of Moore getting in some early foul trouble accruing three fouls in the first half, forcing Stamper to bench her leading scorer.
The 20-point loss to their rivals has the Lady Cardinals working hard in practice as 2013 winds down. Felicity has a relatively light schedule over the next two weeks, playing only twice before the turn of the calendar.
With the majority of the Lady Cards’ reps coming in a practice setting, Stamper wants to smooth things out before they get into their second round of games against National Division foes.
“We’ll definitely be working on more of the shooting kind of things,” Stamper said. “I’ve been very pleased with the defensive play and we’ll continue to keep that strong, but we need to be working on getting more people involved on the offensive side of things.”
The Lady Cardinals host Williamsburg on Dec. 19, their last SBC-National game until the 23rd of January. Sitting in second place behind only Georgetown, Stamper said that her team needs to make steady improvements in order to be in the mix when they have a rematch with the Lady G-Men on Feb. 1.
“We’re trying to stay as sharp as we can with what we’re doing well and then continue to improve on our weaknesses,” she said. “Our goal is always to win the league and Georgetown is our biggest competitor there, so we’re looking forward to going up there and playing them again.”