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Titans hold on vs. Owensboro Catholic

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS — It wasn’t the most characteristic finish for Mercer County.

The Titans held on in the state tournament quarterfinals against Owensboro Catholic on the backs of their seniors, winning 67-66.

“I guess that’s the true form of survive and advance,” Mercer County head coach Chris Souder said. “Once again, give Owensboro Catholic credit. We kind of had to play their game, we couldn’t get much transition going. They’re so big and they knocked down big shot after big shot. Give them a lot of credit. We missed some free throws again, but the people I had on the free-throw line, I’ll do it every time.”

The Titans finished 9-for-15 from the foul line and were 6-of-11 from the stripe in the final quarter, helping Owensboro Catholic come back. The Aces outscored Mercer 24-17 in the final eight minutes.

Owensboro Catholic had three losses to teams Mercer had beaten this season, but the Aces’ length and methodical play caused problems for the Titans.

“I think sometimes, we’ve won so much, people just expect that we’re going to blow everybody out,” coach Souder said. “They know getting here, nothing is going to be easy and everybody is going to give them their best shot.”

Through three quarters, Mercer was in control. The Titans led by as many as 17 points and were ahead by eight points after three quarters.

But in the fourth, the Aces stormed back, cutting the Titans’ lead to three multiple times and one point with eight seconds left.

Two of Mercer’s five misses in the final quarter were at the front end of a one-and-one opportunity for Seygan Robins. She was having an issue with an eye contact after taking a hit.

“Seygan was having a contact issue, we found out, thought she didn’t have one in there but it was folded over so we were trying to put two in there,” coach Souder said. “So like she said, we’ll go with that, that’s why she missed those free throws.”

Robins scored 18 points and had a game-high nine assists in the win. She was 4-for-5 from three-point range.

Emma Davis led the Titans with 21 points and hit five shots from deep.

Big games from Davis aren’t uncommon in the postseason: Last year in the state semifinals, she scored 15 points and led Mercer with three three-point shots. In the 2016 semifinals, she led Mercer with 13 points.

“I guess, it kind of seems like that,” Davis said. “But I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Coach Souder said the team did well to find Davis and open shooters throughout the game. The Titans finished with 18 assists.

“I gave her a big hug after it was over. I told her after the regional tournament that I needed one of those from her, and she does it every year that we’re here,” coach Souder said. “I could tell early that she was feeling it and we did a good job getting her the ball. She had 21 points and we definitely needed all 21 of them tonight. That’s the beauty of this team, it’s always somebody. We’ve got Seygan and Emmy (Souder) most of the time, then it’s Faith (Lake), Lexy (Lake), Emma, Toni (McCombs), Channing (Lewis), it’s always somebody that steps up. That’s what you want from your seniors, they step up in big games and Emma was huge.”

Lexy Lake scored nine points and was 3-for-7 from three-point range. Her sister Faith had just three points, but two of them came when the game was on the line.

With Mercer leading 65-63, Faith Lake hit two free throws to put the game out of reach with four seconds left. Mackenzie Keelin hit a three for Owensboro Catholic as time expired.

Faith said she and her fellow seniors know to stay calm in late-game situations.

“I think we try to keep calm, we just talk it out and try to figure what we need to do in order to finish the game strong and get the win,” she said. “I think we all try to stay as calm as we can in order to just finish the game.”

Coach Souder admitted he was a little worried because Owensboro Catholic had momentum down the stretch, but trusted his five seniors in the end.

“Probably worried a little bit, just because it was a big momentum swing there and we were just trying to hang on there,” he said. “Lexy hit a big three in the corner, Channing got a big bucket there late and Seygan got an and-one. We did just enough. It gets a little tense, but they’re never going to stop playing. That’s the good thing. We were trying everything to slow them down a little bit, they just got the momentum and we were fortunate to hold on.”

For Mercer’s final possession, Souder put his trust in his five seniors, and Faith delivered.

“Two biggest free throws of her career, in a timely fashion,” he said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way, having those seniors on the floor in those situations. That’s what we said there on that last possession, let’s put our five seniors on the floor and what happens happens.”

Now, the Titans are back in the final four for the third time in as many years. They’ll face the winner of George Rogers Clark and Elizabethtown on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

Sunday’s championship game is at 2 p.m.

“It’s incredible, I feel like it doesn’t really seem like it’s been three years to us,” Robins said. “We’re really thankful to be back here, especially after that game.”

 

Box score

State tournament quarterfinals

At BB&T Arena, Northern Kentucky University

 

MERCER COUNTY 16 21 13 17 67

OWENSBORO CATHOLIC 10 17 15 24 66

 

Points

MERCER (34-3): Emma Davis 21, Seygan Robins 18, Emmy Souder 10, Lexy Lake 9, Channing Lewis 4, Faith Lake 3, Toni McCombs 2.

  1. CATHOLIC (27-8): Hannah McKay 24, Sarrah Clemens 18, Mackenzie Keelin 9, Spencer Harvey 6, Ellie Mitchell 5, Caroline Reid 2, Madelyn Lyon 2.

 

Rebounds

MERCER: Emmy Souder 8, Emma Davis 6, Faith Lake 2, Seygan Robins 1, Toni McCombs 1, Team: 2.

  1. CATHOLIC: Hannah McKay 9, Sarrah Clemens 8, Madelyn Lyon 4, Ellie MItchell 2, Caroline Reid 1, Mackenzie Keelin 1, Spencer Harvey 1, Ally Maggard 1.

 

Assists

MERCER: Seygan Robins 9, Faith Lake 3, Emmy Souder 2, Toni McCombs 2, Emma Davis 1, Lexy Lake 1.

  1. CATHOLIC: Caroline Reid 4, Ellie MItchell 4, Spencer Harvey 4, Sarrah Clemens 3, Mackenzie Keelin 3, Hannah McKay 1, Madelyn Lyon 1.