March 9th, 2018

Mercy advances to final four

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor


Mercy advances to final four
Mercy's Hope Sivori looks to make a pass against the Ryle defense / photo by Conor Revell

Highlands Heights, Ky. - Mercy’s basketball team is loose and having fun because winning is always enjoyable.

The Jaguars used a strong second-half to take down Ryle 93-78 in a St. Elizabeth Healthcare/KHSAA Girls’ Sweet 16 State Basketball Tournament quarterfinal game at Northern Kentucky University’s BB&T Arena Friday night.

“They’re loose and they’re having fun,” Mercy head coach Keith Baisch said. “You can hear them over there goofing around. We were celebrating the final four and my players were talking about where we’re going to eat after the game.

“That’s just the excitement they have. They understand the moment and how big it is, but I don’t think they quite understand how hard it is to get here. They would do anything for each other and it shows on the court.”

With the win, Mercy (24-9) is in the final four along with Boyd County (29-4), Clark County (28-7), and defending state champ Mercer County (34-3).

“This is a great feeling,” Mercy junior Regan Berger said. “At the beginning of the season we were doing kind of iffy. We kind of questioned ourselves a little bit. I think after that Male game, I think that put us over the top and gave us confidence in ourselves, and allowed us to believe in each other.”

Mercy defeated the Raiders 74-66 back on Dec. 21st.

It was a team effort as the Jaguars were led by four double-digit scorers and dished out 19 assists as a team.

Super sophomore Taziah Jenks led the way with 27 points, five rebounds, and four assists.

“I’ve been jumping high and splitting the lanes,” Jenks said. “I can really look up the court and attack the lane.”

Danielle Feldkamp added 16 points, six rebounds, and four blocks.  

Berger finished with 16 points, three assists, and a steal.

“Our ball movement is opening up gaps in the defense,” Berger said. “You can see the lane well, almost too well sometimes. I should pull-up sometimes instead of driving it. My first step is pretty quick, I can see it before it happens.”

Point guard Hope Sivori made 4 of 5 from three-point land and recorded 22 points, six assists, and three steals.

“It has been one of our main focuses during practice as of late,” Sivori said. “You have to be able to shoot to win games. Shots have to be able to fall. The way we’re moving the ball and reversing the ball is allowing us to get open and we’re knocking down those shots.”

Mercy made 27 of 60 (45 percent) including 7 of 14 (50 percent) from three-point land and 32 of 41 (78 percent) from the charity stripe.

“We’re good shooters,” Basich said. “Those are shots we want them to take and I think that’s a key thing. Hope, Regan, and TT, all of them can knock down the three. Even Danielle can hit the three. We don’t need her to hit the three though, we need her to stay inside. All of our kids can hit the three. When you can shoot from the outside, that opens it up for Danielle.”

Ryle (29-7) came out on fire and hit 17 of 27 (63 percent) from the field including 5 of 10 (50 percent) from three-point land and only trailed 43-42 at the half.

“Transition play was huge,” Ryle head coach Katie Haitz said. “We were wanting to push the ball a little bit more than we were able to. When they setup that press it created turnovers for them. Tazaih Jenks (No.1), tall, very athletic, and they’re a very aggressive team. It just didn’t go our way today.”

But then the Jaguars used their famous trap and outscored the Raiders 50-36 in the second-half to advance to the semifinals for the first time in eight years.

Mercy trailed 55-54 with 4:12 to go in the third quarter but went on a 37-16 run to grab a 91-72 lead with 1:39 to play, the 19-point margin was the largest of the game.

“We were kind of worried there, we went to a safe defense,” Baisch said. “They made a three first play. We were like to heck with that defense and went to a man-to-man defense and went to our trap defense again and got a couple of turnovers. There’s one thing we do really well - if we have a big lead in the fourth quarter - we can stretch them out and make free throws.”

The Raiders shot 29 of 58 (50 percent) from the floor including 11 of 21 (52.4 percent) and made 9 of 16 (56.3 percent) from the free-throw line.

Brie Crittendon paced Ryle with 21 points and five assists.

Lauren Schwartz added 19 points and seven rebounds while Jaden Douthit recorded 16 points, and Maddie Scherrr had 12 points.

“It was definitely key that our guards get a lot of pressure on defense because they may drive it to the hole if not,” Feldkamp said. “That’s put me in a bad situation where I may get a foul called one me. Sometimes it works out where I put my arms straight up and block them. It’s great that I have help with my guards because they can pressure them.”

A big issue for Ryle turned it over a whopping 19 times as Mercy’s defensive pressure was relentless.

The Jaguars dominated the glass, grabbing 41 rebounds, 12 more the Raiders.

Mercy will play Boyd County in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Saturday. Mercer County and Clark County will play in the first game at 6:30 p.m.

 

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