No. 2 Titans roll LC

STANFORD — The Mercer County girls’ basketball team looked like, and played like, the No. 2 team in Kentucky Tuesday night.
The Titans, who are unbeaten in the 12th Region, held host Lincoln County to just 25 percent shooting and outrebounded the Lady Patriots 46-38 en route to a 78-55 victory.
“They are really good,” Lincoln coach Cassandra McWhorter said. “There’s a reason they’re the No. 2 team in the state. They truly believe in each other, their system and their coach and that shows on the floor.”
And the Titans’ coach, Chris Souder, believes in them, too.
“I’m real fortunate. I understand what I have,” he said. “These kids are so fun to coach and so coachable. I challenged them pretty good at halftime about raising their level of play and toughness and they really came out the third quarter and really just went to work.”
The Titans, already up 39-28 at the half, responded to Souder’s challenge by exploding on a 9-0 run to post their first 20-point lead. And they never looked back.
Emmy Souder, who led Mercer with 23 points and 10 rebounds, opened her team’s third-quarter run with two free throws then added a bucket off a turnover. Lyric Houston, who also double-doubled with 18 points and 10 boards, added two field goals, including the bucket that made it a 20-point ballgame, 48-28, with 4:48 remaining in the third.
“We kind of turned our pressure up in the full court, kind of doubled and did some things and got real active,” Souder said. “I was glad to see it because I was pretty animated at halftime about getting tougher and playing our game. They did a great job.”
Emma King, who led all scorers with 26 points and seven rebounds, put an end to Mercer’s string of unanswered points when she drained a 3-pointer with 3:48 on the clock in the third quarter. Mercer outscored Lincoln 26-11 in the period, with King scoring eight of the Lady Patriots’ 11 points. 
“They just came out and hit us in the mouth the third quarter,” McWhorter said. “We’ve struggled on and off all year in the third quarter. I knew that how we came out of halftime was going to be a big determining factor for us. I was disappointed a little bit when they made their first couple baskets the third quarter and I saw some of our players drop their heads and our body language changed a little bit and we didn’t have that fight that we usually have. We’ve got to overcome getting down on ourselves so easily when our backs are against the wall.”
Lincoln (17-7) had its back against the wall for much of the ballgame. King gave the Lady Patriots a 2-0 lead with two game-opening free throws only to have Mercer (20-6) answer with a 12-2 run.
Seygan Robins scored most of her eight points in the run, hitting inside to ignite the run then capping it with a 3-pointer for a 12-4 lead. Emmy Souder nailed her own 3-pointer in the run to put Mercer on top to stay, 5-2. 
Lincoln was within 17-14 with 1:25 to go in the first quarter after 3-pointers by both Jenna King and Emma King and a layup off a steal by Maddy Boyle. But Mercer would close on another run. Emma Davis converted on a three-point play and Faith Lake hit inside to extend the lead to 22-14.
The Titans posted their first double-digit lead when Souder scored a putback to open the second quarter. Boyle, who finished with 12 points, bombed in two 3-pointers midway through the period for Lincoln to make it a 33-25 ballgame. However, Lincoln would not connect from the field the remainder of the half as Mercer opened up a 39-28 lead.
Lincoln finished 14-for-57 from the field, 7-for-22 from 3-point range. Mercer shot 41 percent from the field, going 27-for-66, 7-for-28 from 3. At the foul line, the Lady Patriots were 20-for-24 and the Titans, 17-for-33.
“The biggest difference tonight was the shots in the paint,” McWhorter said. “We matched Mercer with seven 3’s and we hit free throws. But we were only 7-for-31 in the paint and they were 50 percent. Plus we gave up 18 offensive rebounds.”
“It was a tough Senior Night,” McWhorter said. “This is not the way we want to send out Logan (Godbey) and Jenna (King). Couldn’t ask for two better seniors. They are great leaders, not just for the team but for the whole school and we would have liked to have sent them off with a win.”

at Lincoln Co.
1 2 3 4 F
Mercer 22 17 26 13 – 78
Lincoln 14 14 11 16 – 55

MERCER (20-6) – Seygan Robins 8, Faith Lake 9, Lexy Lake 4, Lyric Houston 18, Emmy Souder 23, Emma Davis 6, Alie Burke 3, Channing Lewis 4, Jennifer Merchant 2, Cam Preston 1. 
LINCOLN (17-7) – Emma King 26, Kaitlynn Wilks 5, Maddy Boyle 12, Jenna King 6, Haley Southerland 2, Trinity Shearer 2, Anna Lane 2.