Rebounding enables Mercer to beat Burgin

January 14, 2004|JILL ERWIN

HARRODSBURG - When neither team is shooting well, the game most often comes down to rebounds. And most of the rebounds Tuesday night were coming down to Mercer County.

The Scotties won the battle of the boards and got some key shots from Jordan Lyons in the fourth quarter to top visiting Burgin 63-56 here.

Mercer (5-6) outrebounded Burgin 46-39 behind 16 boards from senior John Lyons. Twelve of Mercer's rebounds came on the offensive end, and the Scotties took advantage of some of their second, and third, opportunities.

"We're not always going to make shots and rebounding is very important to us," Mercer coach Greg Edwards said. "The kids did a great job, the effort was excellent, they worked hard and I couldn't be happier with the way they responded."


Mercer had to respond to a late run by Burgin. After trailing by as much as 11 points in the third quarter, the Bulldogs (6-6) went on a 7-0 run spanning the end of the third and first 42 seconds of the fourth. Sean Bottoms' basket with 7:18 to play drew Burgin within 38-34, but Jordan Lyons had the answer.

He hit a 3-pointer to push Mercer's lead out to seven before Joe Harris' basket made it 41-36. But Lyons hit another 3 from the right corner with just under six minutes to play. Less than a minute later, another 3-point attempt by Lyons was off-target, but Clif Watkins tipped it in for a 10 point lead with 5:16 to play.

"Even if Jordan misses, we know that sooner or later he's going to hit them," Edwards said. "That tip-in was just amazing. Clif was going hard to the glass, but you don't dream he can jump that high to make that play. That was a highlight play."

Burgin never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.

"We were tired by that point," Burgin coach Don Irvine said. "We were trying to rotate guys in. We played our older guys more, and we'd like to rest them, but we were constantly digging out of a hole. We asked the younger guys to step in and guard someone. They simply didn't do that."

While neither team's defense was at the level the coaches would like, each team shot poorly enough to not have it matter too greatly.

Burgin hit just 10 of 41 shots (24.3 percent) through the first three quarters before shooting 10-for-15 in the fourth. Mercer was 16-for-60 (26.7 percent) through three quarters and 8-for-14 in the fourth quarter.

But Burgin just couldn't hold onto the ball. The Bulldogs had 12 first-half turnovers, including seven by senior point guard Zack Gross. Burgin had nine in the second half, but they came in bunches, allowing Mercer to go on scoring runs.

"I thought we did a better job in the second half of attacking the basket," Irvine said. "We had some good looks that didn't go. I was more concerned because we didn't guard the ball well tonight."

Joe Harris had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds and also added four blocked shots. Gross had a team-high 17 points and also grabbed eight rebounds, and Sean Bottoms had 14 points and nine rebounds.

Jordan Lyons finished with a game-high 19 points, 10 of them in the fourth quarter. He hit five 3-pointers in the game and also had three rebounds. Watkins added 16 points and five rebounds, while Kameron McRay had 11 points and seven rebounds.

Edwards said he's pleased with his team's play in the new year and said he expects the Scotties to keep improving.

"We're 4-1 after Christmas, and that's what we wanted," Edwards said. "After Christmas, we wanted to keep it going and build on what we'd done."

BURGIN (6-6) - Zack Gross 17, Sean Bottoms 14, Joe Harris 11, Daniel Howard 9, Chris Perkins 2, Ryan Steer 3.

MERCER (5-6) - John Lyons 8, Andrew McCloud 3, Clif Watkins 16, Jordan Lyons 19, Kameron McRay 11, Michael Bottoms 2, John Wickliffe 2, Daniel Goodpaster 2.

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