SideLines: Cardiac Lady Cougars continue climb

The 2013-2014 season has seemingly been one of huge win after huge win for head coach Scott Murphy and his Frontier Lady Cougars.

Tonight the Cougars will try to come up with yet another huge win when they travel to Claymont High School for a rematch with the Bridgeport Lady Bulldogs with a sectional championship on the line.

Frontier opened the season with a whole lot of unknowns as they didn’t have enough girls come out to even have a junior varsity squad, while the nine girl varsity squad featured three seniors and six freshman and sophomores.

Throw in a 24-point season opening loss to the Pioneer Valley Conference rival River Lady Pilots and it looked like it may be a long season for powder blue and gold.

Frontier rebounded nicely however by reeling off four straight wins before hosting River in a rematch in the friendly confines of the Hank Morus Gymnasium.

For three quarters River once again dominated the Cougars as they carried a 13-point lead into the final eight minutes.

What happened next very well may have set the stage for what has become a very successful season for the Cougars as they rallied all the way back and got a clutch three-pointer from Corisa Fickiesen with 13 seconds left on the clock to cap the comeback and secure the 51-50 revenge victory.

“That may have well been a turning point for our girls as far as gaining confidence,” said Murphy, in just his second year as head coach.

“Beating a team that beat you a few weeks earlier by almost 25 points the way we did really built a lot of confidence in our team.”

That would not be the only big win of the season for the Cougars as they went on to win all but three of their remaining games.

The only other blemishes were a pair of losses to PVC champion Fort Frye as well as a loss to a very good Magnolia team.

Their outstanding record qualified the Lady Cougars to compete in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference 2-A quarter-finals against none other than the arch-rival Pilots.

The Cougars trailed by six points heading to the final period but once again rallied to defeat River 50-46 and advance to the OVAC finals for the first time in school history.

The only thing standing between Frontier and an OVAC championship were the top-seeded and undefeated Bridgeport Lady Bulldogs.

“We didn’t just want to go to the finals, we wanted to go and win,” said Murphy. “I have to credit these girls for not being satisfied.”

The Cougars stunned the Bulldogs with a 46-44 victory to claim the title.

“It was just an unbelievable, great experience for the girls,” said Murphy of the upset win. “You don’t know when or if ever you are going to get that chance again so we made the most of it.”

Next up was a tough sectional matchup against Malvern and once again the Lady Cougars found a way to get things done as they squeezed out a 69-61 overtime victory to set up tonight’s rematch.

“We are going to come out with a lot of energy and I believe we will be ready to play,” said Murphy. “I couldn’t ask for a better group and they have really worked to change the image of Cougar basketball. Their sacrifices are really paying off.”

The Cougars figure to go with the same starting line up as they have used for most of the season.

Sophomore Jenna Maston, who averages four assists a game will start at point while senior Emily Hinton will man the other guard spot.

Fickiesen, who averages nine points and four boards a game and freshman Lexi Brookover (12.0. 5.0) will be on the wings with Daugherty, who averages a double-double (18.0 and 10 rebounds), in the post.

Daugherty, who scored a school record 46 points in a game earlier in the season against Tyler Consolidated, has quietly developed into one of the best girls prep players in the area.

“She has been solid all year long for us,” said Murphy, of his 6-foot senior. “She has become a huge presence in the middle and is a big reason for our success.”

Freshman Sammi Morris is usually the first girl off the bench for Frontier, while sophomore Kylee Newlen and freshman Nikki Haught and Carly Stricker round out the Cougar roster.

Tonight’s game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. tip-off at Claymont High School in Uhrichsville.

Mike Morrison is a Marietta Times part-time sports writer.