March 11th, 2018

Mercy's run ends with loss in title game

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor

Mercy's run ends with loss in title game
Mercy with the runner-up trophy / photo by Conor Revell

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - Mercy’s basketball team went on a run their community won’t soon forget even though the St. Elizabeth Healthcare/KHSAA Girls’ Sweet 16 State Basketball Tournament championship game was a complete disaster.

Mercer County stormed out of the gate and cruised past the Jaguars 74-34 to win their second straight state title at Northern Kentucky University’s BB&T Arena Sunday, becoming the first team to win back-to-back state titles since Lexington Catholic did it in 2005 and 2006.

“We were tight and they made us pay for it,” Mercy head coach Keith Baisch said. “I think we got caught up in their game. They like to shoot a lot of jump shots and three pointers where we don’t mind taking three pointers but we usually go inside-out. They weren’t missing and they made us pay for it with the defensive mistakes we made.”

It ties the record for the largest margin in a state title game. Hardyville lost to Georgetown 40-0 in the 1925 state championship game.

“For a public school to go back-to-back,” Mercer County head coach Chris Souder said. “I don’t even know what to say. I’m so proud of what we did. I thought we had one more in us and was thinking it would be a 52-48 game. For us to do what we did today was absolutely insane.”

The Lady Titans (36-3) hit 12 three pointers in the first half and led 52-14 at the half. Mercy (25-10) trailed by as many as 44 points in the second half.

“They were hitting everything,” Mercy’s lone senior Danielle Feldkamp said. “But, we came out tight at the beginning. We weren’t playing loose like we did in all our other games. We were almost a little bit afraid. I think if we had come out loose like we had been, things may have been different. The pressure was all on them. They’re the defending state champion and we were the ones that came out with like we had everything to lose.”

Mercer County hit 28 of 49 (57.1 percent) from the field including a stellar 16 of 26 (61.5 percent) from three-point land, but only made 2 of 9 (22.2 percent) from the charity stripe.

The 16 made three pointers is the most that has even been made in a Sweet 16 game.

“You don’t stop a team when they’re hitting like that” Baisch said. “They looked like the Golden State Warriors out there today. They were hitting shot after shot and it didn’t matter who took the shot. Sometimes you run into games like that. Unfortunately for us it happened to be in the state finals.”

Lexy Lake led the Lady Titans with 17 points and hit all five of her three-point attempts. Emma Davis also had 17 points and hit 5 of 6 from three-point land. Emmy Souder added 15 points and nine rebounds. Seygan Robins had eight points, seven rebounds, and three assists.

The Jaguars hit 13 of 43 (30.2 percent) from the field including 4 of 17 (23.5 percent) from three-point land and 4 of 8 (50 percent) from the free-throw line.

“Give Mercy credit,” Souder said. “They had a rough game last night. That was a physical game against Boyd County. Keith and Mercy will be back.That’s a young team. He does a great job and I have the utmost respect for Keith and their program.”

Taziah Jenks led Mercy with nine point. Hope Sivori finished with seven points, three steals, and two assists. Sydney Rivette recorded six points and three rebounds.

“They just didn’t miss,” Sovori said. “They were hitting every single three that they shot. We can’t match that. We work around Danielle and a three is worth more than a two. It just didn’t equal out. They hit everything.”

Feldkamp added four points, five rebounds, and two blocks.

While the title game didn’t go as expected, the Jaguars will cherish the memories made along the way, beating their first three opponents (Knott County Central, Ryle, and Boyd County) by double digits.

Feldkamp ends her career as a state runner-up and other than Mercer County’s seniors, she finished her high school career on a higher note than the rest of the seniors in the state.

“This will be a big memory,” Feldkamp said. “Playing here definitely takes the cake. This has been a big goal of mine and I got my wish this year. Man, what a heck of a ride. All through the tournament we talked about how we wanted to play every game like it was our last and we made it to our last game. It was such a special team and I’m so glad to be a part of it.”

The six-foot-three center will continue her basketball career at Bellarmine University next fall.

“Danielle is one hell of a kid,” Baisch said. “I mean the sacrifices she has made to be here at Mercy and what her family has done for her to be here. It has been touching and emotional for me. I have tears in my eyes. The kid has been through a lot in order to be here. For her parents to put trust in me and Mark Evans (assistant coach), it means a lot.”

Everybody else on Mercy returns and a return trip to the state finals next season is possible.

“I’m going to remember everybody personalities,” Mercy’s Regan Berger said. “We probably will never have chemistry like we had this year. I know we only lose Danielle (Feldkamp), but she’s a big thing. I do think we will come out bigger and better next year.”  

Berger, Rivette, Raquael Reese, and Jaelyn Shorter will be seniors.

“I hope they learn from this, they now know what it’s like with the pregame festivities and the delay,” Basich said. “I think you can get caught up in the moment and I think we did get caught up in the moment which is okay.

“We want them to enjoy it and have fun. These kids have earned the right to have that moment. It was a heck of a year. I’m not looking forward to next year - yet - because losing Danielle is going to be big. We’ll have to see what happens.”

Jenks and Sivori become juniors and will be Division I prospects.

“I’m going to remember how much chemistry we have built up, how much fun we had,” Sivori said. “We enjoyed the moment and the spotlight. Everybody was talking about Mercy and how we went through such a tough season with injuries and illnesses. It was a rollercoaster. But the spotlight shined on us at the end of the year and we came out and won when it mattered.”

A loss like this can fuel the fire. Mercer County’s seniors lost to Elizabethtown by 41 in the state tournament first-round three years ago as freshmen, made it to the semifinals a year, and then brought home the big prize the following two years.

“I watched them get all excited,” Sivori said. “That’s going to be us next year.”

While the tears are flowing for now, the Jaguars will remember this special run and team, but can look ahead to the future with the goals of getting back to finish what was started.

“I love this team comradery and goofiness,” Baisch said. “I was thinking about that on the bus ride over here. Whenever I decide to get out of coaching, these are the moments I’m going to miss. The games are great, but it’s the bus rides and things like that are the memories. This will be something the kids will never forget. The kids won’t remember much of the game itself, but they’ll remember everything about it.”

It was one heck of a ride, one that many didn’t expect outside of the Mercy coaching staff.



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