Girls' 24th District | Martin leads Mercy to 66-59 win over Bullitt East

Malerie Martin, a 6-foot junior, didn’t play for Mercy Academy when it lost to Bullitt East 63-38 on Jan. 22, but she definitely made her presence felt in the 24th District basketball final Thursday night at Jeffersontown.

Martin, who takes high-arching shots from the free-throw line as well as 3-point range, erupted with 30 points as unranked Mercy successfully defended its district crown with a 66-59 victory over Bullitt East, the state’s No. 11 team in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings.

“This was by far her best game this season,” Mercy’s first-year head coach, Keith Baisch, said after his Jaguars (15-13) earned the right to play their first game at home when the Sixth Region Tournament begins Monday night.

“Malerie stepped up big-time tonight,” Baisch said. “In our first game this season, she had 26 points and 15 rebounds against Eastern, but this was her best game. She missed the first game against Bullitt East because of a concussion she got against Butler.”

“She was a huge difference,” Bullitt East coach Chris Stallings said of Martin. “She hit some big shots. I thought we defended her pretty well at times. She had a huge game. We had Mercy hitting 10 of 20 threes. They shot them better than we had seen them shoot before.”

Bullitt East (22-8) also will advance to the regional, but must play a winner from another district. Mercy will play a runner-up from another district.

Martin scorched the nets for 8 field goals in 13 attempts, including a 4 for 5 mark on 3-pointers. She scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, hitting all 10 of her free throws. She also pulled down 11 rebounds.

Martin agreed it was her best game. “Not because of the points, but I didn’t make turnovers and I was looking for my teammates. I take high-arching shots because I’m tall and a lot of times I’m shooting over a guard. I’ve been working on my shot a lot, and that helps.”

Bullitt East, which got 13 points and 6 rebounds from Hannah Bewley, led 34-30 at halftime and 37-33 early in the third quarter. The Jaguars then hit four straight threes — two by Bewley, one by Martin and one by Kathryn Gross — to lead 45-39. Lindsey Duvall, a freshman who led Bullitt East with 14 points, hit a layup with two seconds left in the third period to put the Lady Chargers up 47-46.

Martin broke a 50-50 tie by sinking four consecutive foul shots. She later knocked down a three for a 57-52 lead, but a layup off a steal by Duvall cut Mercy’s margin to 57-54. Maria Schmitz of Mercy and Raegan Williams of Bullitt East traded making two foul shots apiece, which left Mercy ahead 59-56.

Mercy stretched its lead to 62-56 on two free throws by Martin and one by Bewley. A three by Bullitt East’s Emily Fryman made it 62-59. Martin closed the door, going 4 for 4 at the foul line in the final 22.5 seconds.

“Our players did a nice job coming off the bench and following our game plan,” Baisch said. “When we play as a team, we’re pretty darn good.”

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