The Felicity-Franklin Lady Cardinals are on a crash course with history, one that their head coach Kerry Stamper knows well.
After dismantling their first-round Division IV sectional opponent Lockland, 57-24, on Feb. 13, the Lady Cardinals have gritted out two more wins over Middletown Christian and Seven Hills to earn the school’s first sectional title since 2000-01.
“We finished the (regular) season strong before the tournament; we were 15-5,” Stamper said. “We lost to New Richmond (on Feb. 10), that was a tough game for us, but other than that we’ve been playing great.”
Winners of four in a row, the Lady Cardinals have played their best when their backs have been against the wall.
In the sectional semifinal game against Middletown Christian, the Lady Eagles’ Mackenzie Walker found her range from behind the 3-point arc early, giving Felicity some trouble. However, the Lady Cards were able to shut down the hot-shooting senior in the second half and hang on for a 43-39 win to advance to the sectional final.
In that final, Felicity came out of the blocks scorching. Holding a 30-12 lead at the half, Felicity let the Lady Stingers back into the game, getting outscored 41-26 in the second half.
“We went ahead quite early and offensively, we were on fire,” Stamper explained. “We lost our composure a little bit and had some turnovers in the third quarter. We got a couple of people in foul trouble, so we had to make some substitutions and adjustments, but in the fourth quarter we were able to hold on to win.
“(The last two) were great games to have in the tournament to give us more of a challenge to see if we can stick those games out and get a win.”
Now in the district final on Saturday, March 1 against Russia at Tippecanoe High School north of Dayton, the Lady Cardinals are chasing history last achieved by their head coach in 1993-94 when Stamper’s Lady Cardinals reached the regional tournament.
“Not much,” Stamper said when asked what she knows about the Lady Cardinals’ next opponent. “We’re still trying to find out a few things. They’re much farther north than we are, so we don’t have common teams that we play. I do know they’ve played a tough schedule and obviously the further you go in the tournament, the better the teams are, so we’re expecting them to be strong. Hopefully, we can come out strong like we did against Seven Hills and keep that lead.”
One obstacle that Felicity will have to overcome in the district final is the start time. The game is slated for an 11 a.m. tip and with Tipp City just under two hours away from Felicity, Stamper and the team will head up on Friday night to stay in town to avoid a long bus ride the morning of the game.
“I think as long as we do what we do well, we’ll be fine no matter who we play,” Stamper said. “We need to remain playing as a team, keep our heads and not get rattled.
“As long as we play the way we know we can, it should be a pretty good game.”