Mercer County boys beat Garrard to earn 46th District top seed

February 08, 2004|JILL ERWIN

HARRODSBURG - Before this season, the Mercer County boys may have been the only ones who thought they'd be sitting where they are.

After an 0-4 start to the season, the Scotties (8-10, 5-1) are sitting atop the 46th District standings going into tournament play. Their 65-60 win over Garrard County here Friday clinched the top seed in the district tournament.

"It just means a lot to get this," Mercer junior Jordan Lyons said. "When we came into the season, nobody thought we were going to be the No. 1 seed. I believe we were ranked last, preseason, in the district. To have the No. 1 seed for the tournament is a big deal for us. It feels real good."

Lyons' 21 points were good for game honors, but Mercer's win was definitely a team effort. The Scotties had four players in double figures, and had five different players each grab at least four rebounds. Mercer also had 19 deflections and forced 13 Garrard turnovers.


Still, that wasn't enough to shut down Garrard (8-10, 2-3). The Golden Lions hit 28 of 54 shots (52 percent) from the floor, keeping the game tight throughout.

"Anytime you can win a game with the other team shooting like that, that's a big win for us," Mercer coach Greg Edwards said.

Mercer was no slouch itself, connecting on 23 of 48 shots for 48 percent.

After a Mercer timeout, Garrard had possession of the ball trailing 61-60. Spencer Crutchfield had it at the top of the key, running time off the clock, but Mercer moved up on him and forced him to pass it to Jake Cool. Cool took the pass, dribbled it a couple times, then tried to pass inside to Brandon Sebastian. Kameron McRay made the steal, and he was fouled by Cool with 29.3 seconds to play.

"I was wanting to run the clock down to about 20 seconds and call timeout," Garrard coach Cecil Combs said. "I had relayed to Spencer what I wanted to do, but they came out and made him give the ball up. I'm not sure Jake and Brandon understood what we wanted to do.

"Jake Cool plays so hard on defense and does so many things right, there's no way I can fault that kid and I'm not going to fault him for that. I think he realized we were wanting a timeout, but he was also trying to make something happen."

Mercer was in the bonus, and McRay hit both free throws to give the Scotties a three-point lead. Garrard's Spencer Toler put up a 3-pointer from the left side, but it didn't hit anything. McRay rebounded it and was immediately fouled by Dan Leavell. He hit one free throw, but teammate Daniel Goodpaster grabbed the rebound. He missed, Clif Watkins grabbed the ball and was fouled. He hit another free throw with 10.2 seconds left to finish the scoring for Mercer.

"Kameron got his hands on a couple of passes there at the end and I just can't say enough about the way he played," Edwards said. "His ballhandling meant a whole lot tonight. To handle the ball all night, then step to the line and make those free throws at the end, that's just great."

Neither team ever led by more than six points, and Mercer relied on its interior defense to limit Garrard's inside play. Mercer had nine blocks in the game - five from Goodpaster and two each by Watkins and Lyons - and the Scotties won the rebounding battle 31-27 behind Goodpaster's eight.

"Daniel did a great job," Edwards said. "I thought he controlled the paint and it allowed us to get our press going a little bit."

Lyons hit five 3-pointers, including four in the first half.

"Once I get that first shot under my belt, I usually feel good for the rest of the game," Lyons said.

Watkins also had 13 points and six rebounds for Mercer.

For Garrard, Sean Paul Leavell scored a team-high 18 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Crutchfield added 17 for the Lions.

GARRARD (8-10) - Spencer Crutchfield 17, Jake Cool 6, Sean Paul Leavell 18, Spencer Toler 9, Brandon Sebastian 4, Dan Leavell 6.

MERCER (8-10) - Clif Watkins 13, Kameron McRay 10, Jordan Lyons 21, Daniel Goodpaster 11, John Lyons 4, Michael Bottoms 3, Andrew McCloud 3.

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