By Conor Revell
SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. – Mercy’s Danielle Feldkamp had the jitters going into Monday night’s Sixth Region Tournament quarterfinal game. She settled down after a shaky first half, though, and helped the Jaguars defeat North Bullitt 61-55.
“In the first half I was really nervous because of the intimidation of the game,” Feldkamp said. “I was shaking; I thought my legs were going to bounce off the walls. After halftime I was saying to myself that I need to settle down and play my game.”
The sophomore center got some advice from senior point guard Jessica Laemmle, who dished out eight assists.
“It’s awesome to have a player like Danielle down there because I can drive in and if my lane isn’t there I can kick it up to her,” Laemmle said. “In the first half she wasn’t hitting and I just kept telling her, ‘You’re strong, you’re big, you’ve got this.’ I knew she could do it and she excelled in the second half.”
Feldkamp scored 14 of her 16 points after the intermission, finished 7 of 12 from the field and grabbed seven rebounds.
“That’s Jess being a senior,” Mercy head coach Keith Baisch said. “I think a lot of the younger kids look up to Jess and the other seniors on the team. Jess knows what Danielle is capable of and told her, ‘Hey, we need you, we need you here.’ She was big in the second half and it was great for her to hear that.”
But the Jaguars had to fight for this victory as North Bullitt’s Katie Downey finished with 25 points and hit 8 of 12 shots, including 2 of 4 three-pointers, and 7 of 8 free throws. The Bellarmine signee also grabbed eight rebounds.
“We had really been working in practice on stopping shooters,” Laemmle said. “Our alumni came back and were playing like Katie Downey would. Josie (Woods) did a good job of guarding her and staying right on her tail so she didn’t get the ball. That was the main thing; we had to keep the ball out of her hands.”
North Bullitt (23-7) led 28-26 after Downey sank a three-pointer at the start of the third quarter. But Mercy (21-11) settled in and ended the period on an 18-6 run for a 44-34 advantage.
Feldkamp hit 1 of 2 from the foul line before Downey and the Lady Eagles went on a 12-1 run.
During that burst, the Jaguars were leading 46-42 when Baisch was issued a technical for complaining to a referee. Downey hit both of her free throws and then hit a midrange jumper to tie the score at 46 with 4:28 left.
“She’s a great player and out of respect for her we knew what she was capable of,” Baisch said. “Katie made some good plays; Lauren Deel made some good plays. But Katie wasn’t going to go down without a fight. It ended up being her last game and she was on her home court. She doesn’t want to lose and she took over the game at the end when we had a shot to run away with it and extend that lead, but she wasn’t going to allow that to happen.”
Downey scored half of the Lady Eagles’ points during the run.
Feldkamp stopped the run when her layup gave the Jaguars a 48-46 lead. North Bullitt never led again.
After hitting only 5 of 14 foul shots in the first half, the Jaguars hit 16 of 21 after the break, including 9 of 13 in the final quarter to ice the game.
Other than Feldkamp, Maria Schmitz was the only other Jaguar in double figures with 14 points and nailed three of her four three-point attempts.
“I guess I lied,” Schmitz said, referring to a comment she made about not being a good three-point shooter after Mercy’s overtime win against Sacred Heart late in the regular season. “I didn’t have confidence in myself, but I obviously proved to myself tonight that I can make the three.”
Going into the game, Schmitz had only hit 11 of 44 from beyond the arc this season.
“Maria can shoot,” Baisch said. “Going into the offseason before she had the shin problems, she was one of the better shooters on the team. When you have to sit out two months and you don’t come back until the start of the season, it takes a couple of months to get your legs back. Finally she is getting back to playing basketball.”
Josie Woods chipped in seven points and Laemmle scored six.
Downey was backed by Deel’s 13 points and nine rebounds.
The Jaguars will play Pleasure Ridge Park in the Sixth Region semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Valley High.