Saturday, March 11, 2000

Badin upsets state's No. 1

Enquirer contributor

        VANDALIA, Ohio — Circumstances helped make the second trip to state for Badin's girls basketball team perhaps even more special.

        The Rams used a combination of execution and mental toughness on both ends of the floor to outlast the state's top-ranked Division II team, Chaminade-Julienne, 32-29 Friday night in a regional championship game at Vandalia Butler.

        Badin (22-4), the 1998 state champion, advances to the state semifinals 4p.m. Friday at Ohio State's Schottenstein Center. Badin plays Philo, which beat St. Clairsville 78-58 on Friday night.

        CJ (23-3), the defending Division II state champs, beat Badin in last year's regional final.

        “This is so different (than '98),” Badin coach Dan Purcell said. “Beating the No. 1 team and being the underdog, this just feels great. This is a team that fights like heck and wins games at the end.”

        The struggle in the closing minutes Friday was memorable.

        Badin trailed early in the game 10-2, but held CJ scoreless over a 10-minute span in the second and third quarters to take a 24-20 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Both teams scored on their first possessions of the quarter, but then the game went almost four minutes without a score.

        CJ guard Megan Duffy, the district player of the year, scored on a short jumper in the lane to cut Badin's lead to 26-24 with 2:11 left.

        But Badin guard E.B. Bennett banked in a shot from the lane with 1:50 left for her only basket of the game, pushing the margin back to four.

        “That was a huge bucket,” Purcell said. “You never know what E.B.'s going to do. That put us back up four and put the pressure back on them.”

        Duffy then had a 3-pointer rim out and Badin all-district point guard Kerri Fiehrer beat CJ's pressure and found forward Caitlin Wolf on the baseline. Wolf scored and was fouled. She missed the foul shot, but Badin was back in control.

        The final minute of play saw CJ putting relentless pressure on the ball, getting chances from a pair of Badin turnovers and a missed front end of a one-and-one. But with Badin up 30-27 with 15 seconds left, Wolf was fouled.

        “I was so calm in my mind,” said Wolf, who led Badin with 12 points. “I missed the foul shot before that, but I just told myself this was what I had worked four years to get to. I knew I had to make them.”

        Wolf made both foul shots to push the lead to 32-27. CJ got a final bucket with three seconds left, but Badin had pulled the upset.

        “This is completely awesome,” said Fiehrer, who had seven points and six assists in the game. “I'm going to be in a great mood forever. That's a great team we just beat.”

        Fiehrer keyed Badin's offense by penetrating and finding teammates under the basket for easy baskets that CJ's defense was not used to allowing.

        Badin's defense paid CJ back for last year's defeat, when the Rams were held scoreless at one point for 12 minutes.

        “We did that same thing to them last year and they were still in the game,” CJ coach Frank Goldsberry said when asked how much the 10-minute scoreless span hurt CJ's confidence Friday. “That's the way (these two teams) play the game. It's maybe a five-point difference, either way. I have a lot of respect for their program.”

        CJ's seniors, who ended their careers Friday, were 97-9 over the last four years. But Badin, unranked in the state polls, is the team that earned the chance at its second state title in three years.

        “I don't know why, but I definitely felt confident,” Purcell said. “I told our principal that we would win tonight, and I've never done that before. I asked the AD if she was going to make the drive up to Columbus (for the state tournament meeting) with me on Sunday. I had that much confidence, but when we were down 10-2, I started to doubt myself.”

        BADIN (32) — Bennett 1 0 2, Fiehrer 3 1 7, Brennan 1 0 3, Shull 2 0 4, Overton 2 0 4, Wolf 5 2 12. Totals: 14 3 32.

        CHAMINADE-JULIENNE (29) — M. Duffy 4 6 15, Brand 1 0 2, Maimone 0 1 1, Hoskins 4 3 11, Roddy 0 0 0. Totals: 9 10 29.

        Badin ....... 6  9  9  8—32

        Chaminade-Julienne ....... 12  4  4  9—29

        3-pointers: B - Brennan; CJ - M. Duffy. Records: B 22-4, CJ 23-3.


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