"That's what we did, and that's why they've won 82 in a row against Kentucky teams. We probably scared them a little bit and woke them up, and they do what they have to do."
Souder knew it would be a tough matchup for his team. Despite the fact Sacred Heart's starting guard, Connie Ferch, would miss the game with a knee injury and all-state center Crystal Kelly was feeling sick, the Valkyries presented all sorts of challenges for the Scotties.
Kelly is still a bigger inside presence than any one player Mercer could throw at her, and fellow all-state player Carly Ormerod is one of a few guards in the state that can handle the speed the Scotties have at guard.
"(Kelly's) the best player in the state," Souder siad. "She can dominate whenever she wants to. Whenever they need a bucket, they either go to her or Carly. They're all-state players.
"They're one of the few teams we can't press, not the way we normally do. We were kind of hit-and-miss with it because they pass it so well."
Instead, Mercer had to rely on some junk defenses to keep the ball out of the paint and away from Kelly. She scored eight of her 14 points in the first quarter.
"She knows that we need her," Sacred Heart coach Donna Moir said. "She could barely move the first half, but it seemed like when she wanted the ball, she could make a cut. She wanted to do it for Connie and for everyone else, and we've got to have that kind of effort from her."
Most of Sacred Heart's points came inside
But the Valkyries were still able to score inside at will even when it wasn't Kelly doing the scoring. The majority of Sacred Heart's points came on layups or short shots.
Mercer trailed by as many as eight points in the second quarter at 29-21, but scored the last five points of the half on two free throws by Erin Ashford and a 3-pointer by Chelsea Goodman.
However, Sacred Heart stretched it back out and took a 10-point lead after a basket by Ormerod with 1:41 left in the third. A basket by Courtney Watts and a 3-pointer by Chrystal Claunch with five seconds left got Mercer within five points to end the third quarter.
But Moir was still confident in her team's abilities.
"I thought we were OK," Moir said. "Being away from home, we didn't want to have it close in the fourth quarter. With Mercer, the way they shoot the ball, we talked about wanting to put them away early in the second half.
"They hit a couple big shots. We went to a zone, and we don't normally play a lot of zone.
"You're down five going into the fourth quarter, you've got a shot and that's all we ask for," Souder said. "Give Sacred Heart credit. They turned it up when they had to and we kind of took a little break."
That break put the game away, as Sacred Heart eventually led by 20 at 65-45 with 2:49 to play.
Goodman led Mercer with 16 points on 6-for-13 shooting, while Erica Lee had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Mercer was outrebounded 39-22, and had 10 turnovers to 11 assists.
Mercer hit 38.3 percent of its shots (18 of 47) while Sacred Heart shot a blistering 53.8 percent (28 of 52).
Souder said his team had its chances, but didn't get the shots to fall when they needed them to.
"That's all we talked about, before the game, during the game: Get to the fourth quarter with a chance. Anything can happen," Souder said. "Unfortunately it just didn't go our way tonight."
SACRED HEART (26-1) - Carly Ormerod 18, Alison Denbow 6, Jackie Distler 8, Taylor Kopple 6, Jordan Hess 10, Kelsey McCarty 3, Crystal Kelly 14.
MERCER (19-8) - Chrystal Claunch 8, Courtney Watts 5, Chelsea Goodman 16, Erica Lee 10, Jillian Horn 8, Erin Ashford 4.