Felicity had three players score in double figures as the Cardinals earned a hard-fought victory on the road at Southern Buckeye Conference rival Williamsburg on Friday, Jan. 6.
In a game that featured six lead changes and five ties, it looked as if both teams had a good shot at winning, but it was Felicity’s ability to get out on the break and convert easy baskets that kept the Cardinals ahead for most of the second half.
Williamsburg opened in a man-to-man defense with strong help-side principles that looked somewhat like an extended zone. The helping man defense seemed to stymie the Cardinals to start, but after Felicity coach Damon Smith called a timeout with 3:47 to go in the first quarter and his team down 7-4, the Cardinals started to run a more effective offense.
Jake Fry, a 5-foot-8 senior guard, kept Felicity in the game almost single-handily getting to the basket on dribble penetration and stepping out for some mid-range jump shots.
“He obviously kept us in the game early on,” Smith said of Fry. “He was unconscious shooting the ball. Plus, he has that quick first step heading to the basket. He had a heck of a game.”
Fry scored a team-high 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting.
While Fry led the way for Felicity, Williamsburg’s go-to guy, Kendal Young had some struggles on the offensive end.
“We knew about Kendal coming in,” Smith said. “Even though he didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, he still got his 24 [points]. We tried to double team him and get him in foul trouble because we felt when he was out of the game we had a significant advantage.”
Young went 8-for-21 from the floor, including 0-of-6 from three-point range, but he did manage to record a double-double with his 24 points and 10 rebounds.
“He can’t make them all, all the time,” Williamsburg head coach Dan McKibben said. “We’ve got to have some other people step up and assume some roles, but it wasn’t our offense that was our issue tonight.”
As Young struggled early on, his fellow senior Jacob Herren picked up the slack, going in amongst the trees to get some easy lay ins coupled with drawing some fouls and getting to the foul line.
“He got into the paint pretty well in the first half,” McKibben said. “He’s stepped it up this year and we have to rely on him some more for some scoring and he’s shown a lot of improvement.”
Trailing 16-13 after the first quarter, Herren led the Williamsburg charge with nine points in the period as the Wildcats outscored Felicity 21-13 in the second quarter to take a 34-29 half time lead.
As McKibben referenced, the offense wasn’t the problem for the Wildcats, it was their inability to slow down the Cardinals getting out on fast breaks, led by senior guard Trevor Shouse.
“Our team goes the way Shouse goes,” Smith said. “He’s compatible to one of the best in the conference in my opinion.”
Shouse went 7-for-11 from the field for 19 points with most of his field goals coming in the form of layups.
In the third quarter, Fry again ignited the Cardinals scoring back-to-back lay ups to cut the Williamsburg lead to one at 34-33 and a Christopher Smith three-pointer with 3:25 left to knot the game up at 38.
On Felicity’s next possession, Shouse broke out ahead of the pack to lay in an easy basket and give the Cardinals their first lead since early in the second quarter.
Even though many of his shots weren’t falling, Young used his athleticism to get to the basket and draw fouls on Felicity, keeping Williamsburg within striking distance, trailing 42-40 after three quarters.
However, the Cardinals wouldn’t give up their lead and with the shots not falling for the Wildcats, Felicity began to pull away early in the fourth quarter.
Williamsburg’s Max Madsen did his best to keep his team in the game, hitting cluth three-pointers when it seemed as if Felicity were poised to milk the game away.
Forced to put on their full-court press to try and create turnovers, Williamsburg was burned a few times by the Felicity press break.
“We [press] to catch them off guard a little bit,” McKibben said. “We don’t have the depth to do it the whole game, but we try to pick our spots.”
With control of the ball, Felicity forced Williamsburg to send them to line. Smith, Shouse, Fry and Jake Jones put the game on ice going 14-for-17 from the line in the fourth quarter to keep the Wildcats at an arm’s length.
The loss dropped Williamsburg to 2-6 on the year and 1-2 in the SBC. Their inconsistency has seen them win a game, then drop a few, win a game and drop a few more, so what needs to change?
“That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?” McKibben said. “We have to continue working hard and seeing where are deficiencies are and trying to improve on that.”
Williamsburg played Amelia on Tuesday, Jan. 10 and the Wildcats will face Batavia on Friday, Jan. 13.
Smith feels like Felicity is improving on their deficiencies as the win marks their second straight.
“This is the third game we’ve played well in, even though we lost the one,” Smith said. “We decided to play as a team, we’ve had good team scoring and everyone is playing well, even the guys coming off the bench. I can’t start everyone, but if they earn it they’ll play.”
Felicity’s win streak ended at two as the Cardinals fell to Amelia on Saturday, Jan. 7. They were back in action on Tuesday, Jan. 10 as they hosted Goshen.
Felicity (2-6) – Fry 9 3 22, Shouse 7 4 19, Smith 5 2 14, Moore 4 2 10, Jones 0 5 5, Reese 1 0 2. Totals: 26 16 72.
Williamsburg (2-6) – Young 8 8 24, Madsen 5 0 14, Herren 4 3 11, Workman 2 3 7, Posey 0 4 4, Felts 1 0 2, Reed 1 0 2, West 1 0 2. Totals: 22 18 66.
Halftime: Williamsburg 34-29.
3-pointers: F 4 (Smith 2, Fry, Shouse); W 4 (Madsen 4).