Mercer holds off Pioneers

January 25, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

HARRODSBURG - The things that hurt Mercer County most in its early-season loss to Harrodsburg were nowhere to be found Friday night.

That's a sign of how far the Scotties have come in the last 33 days. They may still have their inconsistencies, but they're starting to harvest some benefits from a demanding schedule that didn't allow them to play at home in the first six weeks of the season.

That was underscored when Mercer held off Harrodsburg in the fourth quarter for a 60-55 victory.

"We've improved," Mercer guard Kameron McRay said. "Playing that tough of a schedule really gets you ready for district play."

Mercer has won all three of its 46th District games since its 50-45 loss at Harrodsburg on Dec. 19. The Scotties fell to 1-5 after that game, but now they're 6-8 overall and 4-1 in the district.

While they shot just 32.7 percent from the field and committed 19 turnovers in that first meeting, this time around they shot 44.4 percent, including 7-for-18 from 3-point range, with only 11 turnovers.


"I thought our patience tonight running our offense and our execution was the difference," Mercer coach Greg Edwards said. "We were trying to do everything in a hurry in the first game, but tonight we were doing a little better job of looking for our second and third options."

Mercer may have also gotten a boost simply from being on a familiar floor. This was the Scotties' second home game - they have won both - and it was played before a capacity crowd of mostly Mercer fans.

"This is only our second home game, so when we have a home game, it's exciting to us," Edwards said.

Harrodsburg (5-10, 3-2) had a chance to spoil the party, rallying from a 12-point deficit to tie the game with 1:54 to play. But the Pioneers were unable to regain the lead they lost in the first quarter.

"We just came up a few plays short," Harrodsburg coach Spencer Tatum said. "I'm proud of us for the way we fought back."

Baskets by Justin Doolin and Shane Webb capped a 13-1 Harrodsburg run and deadlocked the game at 53-all.

Mercer's McRay answered with a three-point play to put his team back in front with 1:34 left, and Harrodsburg's fate was sealed when the Pioneers failed to convert on their next three trips.

"We had to step up on defense," McRay said.

Mercer now in driver's seat in 46th District

The win puts Mercer in the driver's seat in the 46th District race - the Scotties lead both Harrodsburg and Garrard County by one loss.

"Most years that would probably be a big deal," Edwards said. "We still want to be the No. 1 seed this year, but I don't think the district games are going to matter a whole lot."

Mercer began building its double-digit lead late in the second quarter. The Scotties stretched their lead from 19-15 to 31-23 after Harrodsburg's leading scorer, Mark Dunn, went to the bench with three fouls with 4:46 left.

"It could've gotten out of hand, but we held our own and kept it within a reasonable distance at halftime, and we came out in the second half with some fire," Tatum said.

Mercer took its largest lead at 38-26 with 4:59 left in the third quarter. But Dunn, who never drew a fourth foul, scored 10 points in the third quarter to help Harrodsburg get back on track.

"He went to work," Tatum said. "And we did a much better job of getting him the ball."

Mercer's lead was cut to 43-40, then rebuilt to 52-40 with a run that included 3-pointers by McRay and Lyons.

But Harrodsburg got back in the game with its 13-1 run, which included seven points by Webb.

Webb led the Pioneers with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Dunn had all 14 of his points and nine of his 10 rebounds in the second half. Doolin also had 14 points.

Clif Watkins had a game-high 16 points for Mercer, McRay went 3-for-6 from 3-point range and finished with 13 points and John Lyons had 10 points and 14 rebounds to help the Scotties outrebound Harrodsburg 31-30.

Mercer was 20-for-45 from the field and 13-for-19 at the free-throw line, while Harrodsburg was 22-for-55 from the field, 4-for-17 from 3-point range and 11-for-17 at the line, where the Pioneers were 1-for-5 in the fourth quarter.

HARRODSBURG (5-10) - Shane Webb 15, Mark Dunn 14, Justin Doolin 14, Robbie Merriman 10.

MERCER (6-8) - John Lyons 10, Jordan Lyons 7, Daniel Goodpaster 8, Clif Watkins 16, Kameron McRay 13, Andrew McCloud 2, Michael Bottoms 4.

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