Mercer girls top Garrard

January 07, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

LANCASTER -The Mercer County girls have gotten accustomed to winning their 46th District games by large margins, but they didn't get to do that Tuesday night, as Garrard County dug in to play the Scotties on even terms in the second half.

Mercer raced to a 36-20 halftime lead, then won by exactly the same margin, 74-58.

"We kind of relaxed, and I thought Garrard took it up a notch or two," Mercer coach Chris Souder said. "It was dead even in the second half."

That's not typical for Mercer (9-3, 2-0 district), which won its eight district games last season by an average margin of 43 points. No district foe came closer than 23 points in 2002-03, and the Scotties beat Garrard three times by an average score of 78-43.

"I told our girls, 'I guess our program's come a long way when we can win by 16 and I'm mad,'" Souder said.


There was a different feeling for Garrard (3-9, 1-1), where first-year coach Jenny Teater said the Lions' success in the second half was something to build on.

"I think it shows the girls how far we've come," Teater said. "We've still got a ways to go but it's something to get excited about.

"Our girls are going to surprise a few people. A lot of people have counted us out, but our girls are working hard every day, and we're just going to get better."

Souder vowed that Mercer would improve as well, and he promised three intense practices before the Scotties' next game Saturday at No. 4 Jackson County.

Of course, this night still belonged to Mercer thanks to a strong start. Garrard got the game's first basket, but the Scotties answered with 12 straight points in a run that included the first technical foul of Teater's young coaching career, and they led 22-8 by the end of the period.

"That first quarter is what got us," Teater said.

Mercer raced to a 29-9 lead before the midpoint of the second quarter thanks in part to 10 points from Courtney Watts and five each from Jillian Horn, Erica Lee and Leslye Johnson.

"I thought our pressure really bothered them right from the get-go," Souder said.

Teater said it's difficult to prepare players who haven't faced it for the kind of pressure Mercer has.

"It's hard, because we're so timid at times," she said.

Mercer had 16 more field-goal attempts than Garrard in the first half, when the Lions committed 15 of their 28 turnovers.

"In the first quarter we looked whipped, and we came back out in the second half and made five turnovers right at the beginning, but we kept our composure," Teater said.

Mercer took its largest lead at 41-20 early in the third quarter, but a 9-0 run later in the period sparked by a spate of Mercer turnovers - the Scotties had nine of their 12 in the third quarter - allowed Garrard to pull within 10 at 46-36.

Mercer regained a 16-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Lions made one more push to cut the margin to 11 before the Scotties put them away for good.

Five Mercer players scored in double figures, led by Watts with 15 points and nine assists. Johnson had 13 points, Horn had 11 and Lee and Erin Ashford had 10 each off the bench.

Garrard got a game-high 17 points from Abby Parsons, who scored all but two of them in the second half.

Garrard shot 40.4 percent (21-for-52) from the field, while Mercer shot 41.9 percent (26-for-62).

One thing that helped Garrard make some headway in the second half was its work on the boards. The Lions were outrebounded 22-16 in the first half, but they held a 27-14 edge in the second half.

"We're not very big, so we've got to block out," Souder said. "We didn't do a very good job at it, but write this down, we'll get better."

MERCER (9-3) - Jillian Horn 11, Leslye Johnson 13, Chrystal Claunch 8, Courtney Watts 15, Chelsea Goodman 3, Erica Lee 10, Erin Ashford 10, Krystal Honchel 4.

GARRARD (3-9) - Ashley Meadows 8, Kia Howard 9, Chelsea Denny 5, Sydney Napier 1, Abby Parsons 17, Andrea Adams 9, Wendy Logan 9.

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