HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – For 16 minutes the Mercer County High School girls basketball team didn’t look much like the No. 2-ranked squad in Kentucky, and coach Chris Souder let his team know about it in the locker room at halftime.
“He was definitely in our face,” junior guard Seygan Robins said. “We expected it, though. We weren’t playing to our potential.”
Souder’s message definitely got through in the second half as the Titans hit 10 3-pointers and scored 51 points on their way to a 78-50 victory over Boyd County in Wednesday’s first round of the St. Elizabeth Healthcare/KHSAA Sweet 16 at Northern Kentucky University’s BB&T Arena.
Mercer County (28-6) – No. 2 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – shot just 35.7 percent in the first half and led 27-26 at the break.
“We were pretty lethargic, and I told them we were kind of disengaged in the first half,” Souder said. “Boyd County, give them credit, they were the aggressor.”
Mercer County finished 14 of 28 from 3-point range, setting a single-game Sweet 16 record for 3-pointers made. The previous record of 11 was set by Clinton County in 2005 and matched by Clark County in 2014.
MORE PREPS COVERAGE
Robins, a University of Louisville commit, hit 5 of 8 3-point tries and finished with 25 points, eight assists, four rebounds and two blocks to lead the Titans. Emmy Souder, the coach’s niece, added 18 points and 10 rebounds as Mercer County advanced to face Clark County in Friday’s 1:30 p.m. quarterfinal.
Chris Souder said the key to the second-half surge was not settling for 3-point attempts.
“We wanted to attack a little bit more, and we did that much better in the second half,” Souder said. “That came from our energy and our defense.”
Sophomore Savannah Wheeler, a Marshall University commit, hit 4 of 6 3-point tries and finished with 22 points and four assists to lead Boyd County (26-9).
Mercer County opened the second half with a 12-2 run to take control. Robins capped the surge with a layup to give the Titans a 39-28 lead at the 3:38 mark.
“We like to run and shoot the 3 ball, too, and coming in we knew if we tried to do that with them we’d probably end up on the end we eventually ended up on,” Boyd County coach Pete Fraley said. “We tried to control tempo a little bit in the first half, and the fact they missed shots helped a little bit, too.”
Clark County 81, Harlan 63: Shemaya Behanan posted 25 points and nine rebounds to lead the No. 16 Cardinals (30-4) over the Green Dragons (27-9).
Up 32-31 at halftime, Clark County outscored Harlan 19-8 in the third quarter to gain control. Maleaha Bell, Hayley Harrison and Jasmine Flowers each added 16 points for the Cardinals, who outrebounded the Green Dragons 35-20.
Jordan Brock, a Tennessee Tech signee, hit 6 of 16 3-point tries and scored 38 points to lead Harlan, which was the All “A” Classic state runner-up earlier this season. Brock finished 15 of 37 from the field overall.
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and email@example.com.
MERCER COUNTY 78, BOYD COUNTY 50
MERCER COUNTY (28-6) – Seygan Robins 25p, 8a, 4r, 2b; Faith Lake 9p, 5r, 3a; Lexy Lake 12p; Emma Souder 18p, 10r; Lyric Houston 4p, 5r; Lindsay Shope 5p; Alie Burke 3p; Channing Lewis 2p.
BOYD COUNTY (26-9) – Hunter Reeves 3p, 5r; Charity Shears 10p, 4a; Savannah Wheeler 22p, 4a; Alexis Lunsford 9p, 5r; Payton Shears 5p; Loren Lynch 1p.
CLARK COUNTY 81, HARLAN 63
HARLAN (27-9) – Jordan Brock 38p, 3a; Noah Canady 3p; Taylor Simpson 6p, 3a; Brandi Haywood 0p, 6r; MacKenzie King 16p, 5r;
CLARK COUNTY (30-4) – Kennedy Igo 7p, 3a; Maleaha Bell 16p, 8r, 3a; Shemaya Behanan 25p, 9rp; Elizabeth Hardiman 1p; Hayley Harrison 16p, 7r, 3s; Jasmine Flowers 16p.