TIPP CITY – For the second year in a row, the Felicity-Franklin High School girls basketball team made a deep run in the tournament. For a team that won just three games two seasons ago, it’s quite an accomplishment.
Last year’s season ended at 16 wins as Georgetown eliminated the Lady Cardinals in Wilmington. That team featured the inside presence of the graduated Arica Stutz and a new scoring guard in Ashley Moore.
If anyone thought 2013 was a fluke, coach Kerry Stamper and company have come back with an even better season.
To begin the month of March, they merely went to Tipp City and came away with a 52-48 District IV title. It was the first district title for Felicity-Franklin girls basketball since Stamper herself played in the 1993-94 season. The former point guard played on teams that made the regional finals in ‘92 and ‘94.
The 18-5 Lady Cardinals now take on undefeated Fayetteville Perry regional action at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 5, at Tippecanoe High School.
Stamper chose a path in the sectional at Monroe that gave them a relatively easy opener against Lockland, before eeking out wins over Middletown Christian and Seven Hills for the sectional championship.
“It was kind of nice to slow it down a little bit, get in the gym and get used to it,” Stamper said.
In the game with Russia (High School), it was ironically Felicity-Franklin wearing red.
The Lady Cardinals got out to a 14-13 first quarter lead, but trailed 25-20 at the half. By the third quarter, Felicity-Franklin led 33-30.
In the fourth, the Lady Cardinals extended the lead, but Russia came back to tie. Late in the game with a two-point lead, the Lady Cardinals kept Russia from scoring then sealed the game when Ashley Moore outraced the opposition for a loose ball and made the layup to put the exclamation point on the afternoon’s events.
“They all played well,” Stamper said. “Ashley Moore did a great job and didn’t get rattled there at the end and had some key free throws. Kelsey Arkenau played great defense and was great at free throw shooting as well. Our percentage had to be around 70 percent.”
Sophomore Brittany Drake also had a good defensive day against yet another taller team. The Lady Cardinals also moved the ball well as they continue to make believers out of those who might have had the basketballs all packed away a couple of weeks ago.
“I know we, as a team, knew we could do it,” Stamper said. “I think a lot of people thought we were outsized quite a bit. I’m not sure everybody thought we could pull this off, but we did!”
Stamper now hopes her squad has a couple games left to reach the place she made as a player 20 years ago. She’s also been fortunate to have her freshman daughter, Sydney, on the bench for the ride along with younger players like Morgan Horn and Lauren Mitchell.
“I’m glad we got to bring a few more along for the ride with us,” Stamper said. “It’s great that the younger kids get to experience this. When they get there, they won’t be so nervous. It’s a good experience for them.”
As for the mid-week matchup with Fayetteville Perry, the Lady Cardinals haven’t played them recently.
“We’ve seen them play a couple times and they’re tough,” Stamper said. “I know they haven’t had much of a challenge yet. We’re hoping to be the one to challenge them.”