But for the Clyde girls basketball team, Thursday is a second chance opportunity just 15 months later.
At the 2012 Classic in the Country Challenge in Berlin, the Fliers faced Division II powerhouse Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown.
Clyde’s 39-game regular season winning streak ended in a 55-40 loss to the Blazers. But in the 6 p.m. matchup of the Division II state semifinals Thursday, Clyde (27-0) gets to face the four-time defending state champion Blazers (21-6) for a spot in Saturday’s championship game.
In that loss to the Blazers a year ago, Flier star Amanda Cahill picked up her third foul with 5:25 left in the first half and sat the duration of the second quarter. In that span, Clyde was outscored 14-1 in what ended up being a 15-point loss.
Clyde was plus-3 with Cahill on the floor that afternoon, but -18 without her. While anyone in girls basketball will label Clyde an underdog, the thought of keeping Cahill out of foul trouble allows the Fliers to believe they have more than a fighting chance Thursday.
“We were a little bit in awe of the stage to an extent, and didn’t play particularly well,” Clyde coach John Cahill said of last season s meeting. “You can’t do that against Hathaway Brown. They are used to it. They have probably played more games in Columbus than they have in their own gym.
“The Schottenstein (Center) to them is like a second home court. It was a lot of the same things in Classic. We’ve gotten there a little bit, so we re a little more comfortable. We haven’t played at the Schott since the last time we were there and lost (47-43 vs. Dayton Carroll in 2011). They have the advantage there, but I think we ll show up and give another big effort.
The biggest problem Clyde will face against Hathaway Brown is the Blazers can present both size and athleticism to slow down both Cahill and the Michaels sisters (Breanne and Kelsey) inside.
“Just tremendous size and athleticsim in the front court,” John Cahill said of HB. “Vanessa (Smith) could have picked any school, she’s a big time recruit. Niah (Marshall) is not far behind, and with (Stephanie) Poland, we don t see that size around here.
In last year’s game vs. Clyde, Marshall finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds, while Smith added 13 points. Marshall is headed to Cornell, while Smith is committed to Princeton and the 6-foot-4 Poland is headed to Colgate.
“They are high IQ players and students, and sometimes that doesn’t go hand and hand,” John Cahill said. “They really understand the game and make coaches look smart. They see plays and adjust, and all three present different problems.
“We have our hands full up front. They are different from Toledo Rogers athleticism to an extent, because Rogers was all guard pressure, and we got easy baskets off that. Hathaway won’t be that way, we’ll have to earn it. They are a grind it out, tough, intelligent team.
That being said, Cahill believes his team and Hathaway Brown’s experience from playing each other last season could lead to an entertaining game.
“Our familiarity with them leads to both teams relaxing and playing better,” he said. “Sometimes with two teams who haven’t seen each other, the state tournament leads to ugly basketball. Not that it will be pretty on Thursday, but when you have familiarity, I think you will get good efforts out of both teams.”
Perhaps the biggest key to Thursday’s game to put Clyde in a position to be successful late in the game will come down to belief, as cliche as that saying can sometimes be.
“We have to show up with a mindset that we can win,” Cahill said. “The last time at state, and I’m more at fault than anybody, but it felt like we had achieved a goal just getting there. It s an honor and I’m still thrilled we’re back there again, but our mindset has to be beating the four-time defending champs.
“It’s a big stage. It s easy to say this is enough, that we’ve made it. I think we have to come in with the belief that we are going to win, not to participate. I think we’ll give a championship effort. Is it enough to beat the most dominant team Division II team in Ohio history? I don’t know. But if we take that attitude, we give ourselves a real shot to be there Saturday.”