Watts goes over 800 career assists in Mercer's win over Boyle

February 18, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

HARRODSBURG - The Mercer County girls know the importance of giving, and the importance of taking away.

The Scotties have proved their proficiency in both of those areas again Tuesday night.

Mercer's ability to create assists on offense and turnovers on defense was too much for Boyle County, as the Scotties rolled to a 77-46 victory. It was the third straight rout for Mercer (19-7), which is building momentum as it steams toward the postseason.

"This was a good win for us to keep us going," Mercer guard Courtney Watts said.

It was also a red-letter day for Watts, who became only the sixth girl in state history to reach 800 career assists. She needed four assists to get to 800, and she got 14.

Watts' current total of 810 assists places her in the company of some of the state's best guards ever, including Jamie Walz and Clemette Haskins. If Mercer makes a return trip to the state tournament, she could finish her career as high as fourth on the all-time list.


"It's something I'm proud of, but you've got to have players to pass it to to get assists," Watts said.

"The thing about Courtney is she's so unselfish," Mercer coach Chris Souder said. "But if I talked to her right now she'd probably be the most upset because she had six or seven turnovers."

Watts wasn't the only player spreading the ball around for Mercer. Chrystal Claunch had four assists, Chelsea Goodman had three of them to go with a game-high 23 points and Erin Ashford had two assists.

"We did play really well together tonight," Watts said. "It seemed like we were able to find each other and get open shots."

Scotties forced 34 turnovers

Many of Mercer's assists immediately followed Boyle turnovers. The Scotties forced 34 turnovers, including 20 in the first half, and those turnovers resulted in 31 points.

"That's something we always try to do is be really aggressive on defense, because we can turn that into our offense," Watts said.

Boyle coach Judie Mason said while she wasn't happy with the high turnover total, she said the Rebels would have handled Mercer's pressure much better had the game been officiated differently.

"If you let the hand-checking go on as much as they did tonight, you're going to have 34 turnovers," Mason said. "They're good enough they don't need any help, but in that type of game, we can't compete with them. You take the hand-checking away, and I think we beat their pressure."

The turnovers started adding up quickly for Boyle (5-17). There were eight in the first quarter, 12 in the second and 10 more in the third.

Boyle fell behind 23-9 early in the second quarter, but the margin was still at 14 points at halftime, largely because Mercer had 12 turnovers of its own.

"We got sloppy," Souder said. "We were getting steals, and you want to score right away. We were doing silly things."

But the Scotties put the game out of reach at the start of the second half. They scored the first 10 points of the third period to take a 47-23 lead, then answered back-to-back 3-pointers by Boyle with 14 unanswered points, including six each by Watts and Jillian Horn, to take a 63-29 lead with 5:50 to play.

Horn and Watts had 15 points each and had eight and six rebounds, respectively, to help Mercer outrebound Boyle 39-24.

The Scotties shot 45 percent (27-for-60) from the field; Boyle shot 39.6 percent (19-for-48).

Allie Hafley, Boyle's leading scorer with 22 points, was 7-for-14 overall and 5-for-11 from 3-point range.

"We're going to build on this," Mason said. "At the beginning of the year, they were probably 50 points better than us. But the last three or four games we've really started playing the whole 32 minutes.

"We're not going to back down from anybody. We're going to push it and go right to the end."

Mercer won't back down from its next big challenge, either. The Scotties host defending state champion Sacred Heart in their next game Monday.

"I told the girls, 'If we win, it'll be absolutely awesome. If we lose, let's learn from it,'" Souder said. "Either way, it'll make us better."

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