Prep Basketball: Mercer boys down Garrard 54-49
Mercer County's Jordan Duncan (25) scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half Friday to lead the Titans to a 54-49 win over Garrard County. (Hal Morris)
Jordan Duncan scored 10 of his game-high 15 points in the second half and grabbed seven rebounds for the Titans, while Russell Sims added 13 points and seven rebounds.
“We did a better job defensively tonight. We haven’t pressed much all year and we felt we could press Garrard a little more,”¿Mercer coach Brian Britt said. “And we forced quick shots from them and turned them over.”
Mercer (8-19) led 38-34 entering the fourth quarter, but Garrard tied things up quickly. Billy Abney was fouled on a layup. He missed the free throw, but Clayton Ray grabbed the round and scored to tie the game 38-all with 7:37 to play.
A bucket inside from Duncan made it 44-38, and Garrard (10-16) had chances to tie it back up, but Markell Hayes and Abney each went 1 for 2 at the line to make it 44-40 with 3:18 remaining. Garrard was just 5 of 11 from the line in the quarter and 13 of 25 for the game.
“We missed 12 free throws and go 0-for-6 from 3-point range. That’s part of the ballgame. If you score you can win, if you can’t, you won’t,”¿Garrard coach Brandon Cooper said. “And we missed some easy shots around the bucket. But we got to the rim, that’s something that was a little different for us. You can take some positives out of this one and save it.”
Mercer was hitting in the fourth quarter, and sophomore Louis Price had two straight buckets to push the lead back to 48-40 with 2:25 left. Britt said those buckets were big, and was glad to see Price, who was playing his first game since missing four with a concussion and scored six points, play so well.
“He is an athlete. And he’s just excited to be able to learn the game of basketball, just what a trailer is and what help side is. These are things he wasn’t aware of,”¿Britt said of Price, a transfer from Indiana. “And he’s been so excited this year to learn the game, because he said it’s going to make him that much better.”
Garrard got within three points twice, but never could take advantage.
Mercer was 4 for 6 shooting in the quarter and made eight of nine free throws. For the game, Mercer was 17 for 20 at the line to offset a 17-of-46 effort from the field, including 3 for 14 from 3-point range.
Garrard was just 5 for 13 from the floor in the final quarter and finished 18 for 44. But Cooper praised his team’s effort.
“We’ve battled long enough, we know we’re in a slump, we’re trying to get out of it,”¿he said. “The kids worked hard, we played pretty good on defense, had a couple of breakdowns on our help side. But our kids are playing hard right now. I can’t really fuss a whole lot.”
Mercer led 25-24 at the half, then Duncan helped stretch that lead in the third quarter.
His bucket inside capped a 7-0 run to open the quarter, and he scored again to make it 34-26. His final points of the quarter came after Josh Stull, who scored 13 for Garrard, had two straight baskets to cut the lead to 36-34. Duncan got another basket in the post to send the Titans to the fourth quarter up 38-34.
“We told them all year, that we want to get the ball inside,”¿Britt said. “No, we’re not a big team, but we want to establish the inside presence first. And even if we’re not scoring inside, if we get the ball inside, it opens up the outside that much more.”
Garrard led 7-6 early on a bucket from Duncan, but the Golden Lions got six straight points from Austin Sebastian and a layup from Abney to give them a 14-7 lead after a quarter. Sebastian had 12 points.
A steal and layup from Abney made it 16-12, then Mercer tied it up with buckets from Sims and Marcus Warren. A 3-pointer from the right wing by from Austin Sparrow gave Mercer a 25-22 lead with 55 seconds left, and Micah Miniard scored on a jumper to trim the Mercer lead to one at the half.
Garrard County 14 24 34 49
Mercer County 7 25 38 54
GARRARD¿(10-16) — Austin Sebastian 12, Clayton Ray 9, Josh Stull 13, Billy Abney 6, Markell Hayes 5, Micah Miniard 2, Jesse Ray 2.
MERCER¿(8-19) — Austin Horn 2, John Ingram 5, Drew Davis 2, Russell Sims 13, Austin Sparrow 5, Jordan Duncan 15, Will Hager 2, Marcus Warren 3, Louis Price 6.