Mercer rallies late to beat Harrodsburg

December 19, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

HARRODSBURG - In spite of everything Harrodsburg did to build a lead and everything Mercer County did to hurt itself, the Scotties had what it took down the stretch to beat their crosstown rival for the eighth time in their last nine meetings.

Sparked by big plays on defense, Mercer outscored Harrodsburg 15-2 in the final four minutes to win 63-59 Friday night.

"We told them at one of the timeouts, 'It's either now or never. You have to step up here or you're going to get beat,'" Mercer coach Greg Edwards said.

One of those who stepped up was junior guard Brian Stamper, who had four steals, two assists and two baskets in the final two minutes.

Edwards said Stamper and fellow guards Kameron McRay and Jordan Lyons were at the forefront of a last-ditch defensive effort that allowed Mercer (1-2, 1-0 46th District) to erase a 10-point deficit.


"They went to war in the last two minutes," Edwards said.

Turnovers in the last two minutes erased all the good things the Pioneers (0-6, 0-1) had done in the first 30.

"We're young, and we've got to learn how to play with a lead," Harrodsburg coach Chad Luhman said. "We played like we were down the whole fourth quarter."

Steals key the comeback

It was Mercer that trailed 55-48 before beginning its big finish. It was a three-point game after Stamper stole the ball and scored with 2:07 remaining, and another steal seconds later led to a basket by McRay at 1:54.

Stamper had picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter, but he returned to the floor with about three minutes left.

"I had four fouls, but (Edwards) told me not to worry about it," Stamper said. "I just turned loose and tried to pick up the tempo and force some turnovers."

Daniel Goodpaster, who had 11 points and 14 rebounds in his season debut after missing Mercer's first two games with an ankle injury, drew a foul on a defensive rebound and hit two free throws to give the Scotties a 56-55 lead with 1:38 to play. Nine seconds later, a steal by Jordan Lyons and two free throws by Michael Bottoms made it 58-55.

Seth Leeds hit a layup on Harrodsburg's next possession, then had a shot to give the Pioneers the lead after a steal by Cory Jackson. But Leeds missed, and in the next 30 seconds Goodpaster hit one free throw, McRay hit two and Stamper had two steals and a layup to seal the win for Mercer.

"I'm disappointed that we couldn't finish it, that we couldn't take care of the basketball at the end of the game," Luhman said.

But the Harrodsburg coach said he was thrilled with his team's effort, particularly against Mercer's pressure defense.

Mercer went back to its press in the fourth quarter, but with a ferocity the Scotties didn't exhibit early in the game.

"We ran the same press, but we came out with a whole lot more intensity. We knew we had to get this," Goodpaster said.

Neither team had won

It didn't matter that the two teams entered the game with a combined record of 0-7. The intensity and electric atmosphere was typical of a Harrodsburg-Mercer game.

"You can't expect anything less than what you just saw tonight," Goodpaster said.

Harrodsburg raced to a 6-0 lead in the first two minutes, only to see Mercer answer with 10 straight points.

The lead changed hands seven times in the second quarter, but the Pioneers had the upper hand for the third quarter and much of the fourth. Their largest lead was at 52-42 at the end of an 11-3 run.

Meanwhile, Mercer was hurting itself with awful outside shooting. The Scotties shot 29 percent (20-for-70), and they were just 3-for-35 from 3-point range.

"We're a pretty good shooting team," Edwards said. "Normally we knock those shots down."

Harrodsburg shot only slightly better at 34 percent (21-for-61), but the Pioneers hit only 14 of their 27 free throws.

Chase Wofford led Harrodsburg with 13 points and 12 rebounds, including eight offensive boards that helped the Pioneers outrebound Mercer 48-45. Jackson and Jarrod Holt added 11 points each, and Jackson and Freeman Edwards had eight boards each.

Bottoms had a game-high 14 points for Mercer, and McRay added 11 points.

HARRODSBURG (0-6) - DeMarkus Masterson 2, Chase Wofford 13, Seth Leeds 4, Jarrod Holt 11, Adam Gray 1, Cory Jackson 11, Chrys Jones 10, Freeman Edwards 4, Brandon Cooper 2, Kenton Masterson 1.

MERCER (1-2) - Michael Bottoms 14, Jordan Lyons 7, Kameron McRay 11, Brian Stamper 8, Matt Dixon 6, Daniel Goodpaster 11, Bill Davis 6.

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