CRANDON - "One of our sayings here is 'we're going to punch them in the face,' you know, not literally," said Crandon Girls Basketball Coach Keegan Kincaid.
For Kincaid and the Crandon Cardinals, that saying represents a mentality.
"These girls don't back down to anybody," said Kincaid.
That confidence has grown as the Cardinals first beat Shiocton and then Marathon to win a sectional title.
Thanks in large part to junior Alexa Neilitz and sophomore Tabitha Renkas.
"I think we're at our deadliest when we get out, and those two get out and run and make some plays," said Kincaid.
That was on full display last week as the pair combined for 34 points against Crivitz in the regional final, 36 points against Shiocton in the sectional semifinal and 22 points against Marathon in the sectional final.
"At the beginning of the season, before it even started, I told her [Neilitz] we needed to work as a dynamic duo," said Renkas.
Now the duo, combined with their teammates, has pushed the program to new heights.
"Just looking at our banners and everything, it's crazy to think that we're adding the state qualifier this year, and sectionals, and regionals, and conference," said Renkas.
That's despite some doubts from people outside of the program that they could they'd make it this far.
Those doubts were especially strong in the game against top-seeded Marathon.
"You know it all comes down to who has more heart and my girls and I put a lot of heart into that game, and I think that's what separates us from a lot of teams," said Neilitz.
With no seniors on the roster and a first year head coach, these Cardinals may be playing better than even they could've imagined.
But Kincaid says they've earned every bit of success.
"People don't see [the work] behind the scenes and it's finally paying off," said Kincaid.
Now the Cardinals will play Aquinas, the number one ranked team in D4.
But true to form, they aren't backing down.
"Aquinas is in for a treat," said Renkas.
The Cardinals enter Thursday's game against Aquinas on a 17 game winning streak. Tip-off for that game will be 6:35 p.m. in Green Bay.
Story By: Mark Spillane