But Mercer also had some low points: the departure of last year's Area Player of the Year, Leslye Johnson, and some divisive factions within the team.
"There were times when I had that feeling that things weren't going the right way and I'd say, 'Girls we're not leaving until we work this out,'" coach Chris Souder said. "Out of the woodwork, kids would start saying things, that maybe we've got cliques on the team, and the next thing you know things start coming together. I told them if they wanted to end things right, we needed to get that out and air it out. They always would and it was always positive."
Once the team came together, the players were more ready to face the challenge of being the defending regional champion. Junior forward Jillian Horn and Watts both said the open communication and the struggles they faced made them tougher.
"We could have folded the tent at any time," Horn said. "We had a couple things happen, but we came together as a team."
"When you go through trials in a season, it just makes you stronger at the end," Watts said. "A couple of the girls always say, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.'"
Even after losing three seniors, Mercer was regional favorite
After losing three seniors from last year's team, Mercer was still considered the favorite to walk away with the 12th Region crown again this year.
When the final buzzer sounded and Wayne started its celebration, the Mercer girls filed off the floor, heads down.
"You can't explain the feeling," Horn said. "It was disbelief, I guess ... frustration. Just thoughts of all the different things you could have done that we didn't do."
"The final score is not indicative of the caliber of kids we've got," Souder said. "They just scored one more point than we did. But that doesn't take away from the type of year these kids had. They're all hurt, but nobody's upset with anybody."
"We wanted to have the experience that we did last year," sophomore Chelsea Goodman said. "We just couldn't get it. It wasn't anybody's fault, it was just these little things we could have done. But it's all over with now, so we just have to be positive and put it in the past."
Just a few minutes after the game's conclusion, the players were already talking future expectations. Watts, Cala Alford, Celia Newby and Krysta Honchel won't be back, but the majority of the team's rotation returns, and Goodman said expectations will be high again next season.
"We expect to get right back to where we were last year," Goodman said. "It's no different."