Minus Johnson, Mercer still rolls 64-33

January 16, 2004|JILL ERWIN

HARRODSBURG - Mercer County has a different look, but the Scotties got the same result against Harrodsburg.

Missing one of the key players from last year's 12th Region championship team, Mercer relied on a quick start, smothering defense and strong offensive rebounding to dispatch Harrodsburg 64-33 Thursday.

The Scotties (10-4, 3-0 46th District) did it without Leslye Johnson, who quit the team after Saturday's game at Jackson County. She was averaging 12 points a game and shooting 40 percent from the floor this season. She was the leading scorer on last year's team and was named The Advocate-Messenger Area Player of the Year by area coaches.

Mercer coach Chris Souder wouldn't comment on the departure of Johnson, saying only "the team you saw today is our team," but the Scotties did just fine with the new lineup.


Mercer came out on fire against Harrodsburg's zone, scoring the first 10 points of the game and connecting on nine of 14 first-quarter attempts (64.2 percent) for a 22-7 lead.

"We had a feeling they were going to zone us, so we worked on our zone offense," Souder said. "I wish we had done more inside-outside, but when you're hitting, what can you say?"

While his team didn't get a field goal until over four minutes had elapsed, coach Bryan Tolliver said Harrodsburg (3-10, 0-3) played well enough to be in the game.

"The score didn't dictate the first quarter," Tolliver said. "We had our opportunities. We handled their press well and we had several layups we missed. If we hit those, our confidence is better. The game could have been 20-something to 16 or 17."

Shunel Sanders scored to lead off the second quarter, bringing Harrodsburg within 13 at 22-9, but Mercer then went on a 13-0 run over 5:14 to go up 35-9. Six different players scored during that run, including 3-pointers from Courtney Watts and Chelsea Goodman. Mercer hit five 3-ponters in the first half, but only two in the second as the Scotties finished 7-for-21 from behind the arc.

In fact, after the first quarter, Mercer's shooting as a whole cooled off considerably. In quarters two through four, Mercer was just 14-for-57 (24.5 percent), but the Scotties were able to round up 21 offensive rebounds in the game to keep their possessions going.

Erica Lee came off the bench for a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds for Mercer.

"We did cool down there," Souder said. "But Erica did a great job. She's hard to handle down there."

"We haven't been as able to block out," Lee said. "But we've worked on it and we're improving. We have to rebound to get second shots, because that's what matters when you're playing good teams."

Sanders' basket with 5:07 to play in the third quarter got Harrodsburg within 40-18, but Mercer scored 24 of the next 30 points to open up a 40-point lead at 64-24 with 3:48 to play. Harrodsburg scored the final nine points, including four from Tiffany Smith and a 3-pointer from Jassmine Brown, to set the final score.

Harrodsburg was outscored only 27-20 in the second half, and Tolliver said that he's pleased with the way his girls battled.

"At the half, I told them, 'Let's go out and win a quarter,'" Tolliver said. "'Let's play within five points of them.' I felt we did a lot better in the second half."

Watts led all scorers with 16 points for Mercer, while Chrystal Claunch and Goodman each had 10 for the Scotties. Watts also had five assists and five steals, Claunch had six steals and Jillian Horn had eight rebounds and four steals.

Harrodsburg finished 11-for-51 (21.6 percent) from the floor and 8-for-13 (61.5 percent) on free throws. Laila Graves led Harrodsburg with seven points. Smith and Sarah Roach each had eight rebounds and Sanders had four steals.

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