12th Region basketball: Mercer girls fall to Rockcastle in final minutes

Published 5:24 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The Mercer County girls couldn’t catch lightning in a bottle again.

The Lady Titans made an impressive late-season run a year ago that took them all the way to the Girls Sweet 16, but their run ended early this season when they lost to Rockcastle County 51-47 on Monday night in the first round of the 12th Region Tournament.

They had kept their impressive string of district championships alive last week but couldn’t keep their roll going when they couldn’t find the basket late in the game.

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Rockcastle (21-11) scored five of the final seven points while Mercer (18-14) went without a field goal for the final 2:27 of a back-and-forth game.

The Titans shot just 35 percent from the field, but they had made their first five shots in the fourth quarter before missing their last four.

Anna Drakeford had a game-high 31 points in the final game of an exemplary career at Mercer.

Named the 12th Region player of the year by two coaches’ associations, Drakeford had 832 points and 203 rebounds this season. She finished her career as the program’s second-leading scorer with 2,209 points and also had 638 rebounds and more than 500 assists.

Drakeford, who ranked fourth in the state in scoring at 26.0 points per game, scored all of the points in an 8-2 run that brought the Titans back from a 44-37 deficit in the fourth quarter. Her jump shot with 2:28 to play tied the game at 46-all.

Rockcastle regained the lead with a layup by Taylor King, and Talynne Shearer hit three of four free throws for the Lady Rockets in the final 33 seconds.

Sara Dunn had eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds for Mercer, which won its 16th consecutive 46th District title last week.

Shearer scored 26 points for Rockcastle, which shot 43 percent from the field to beat the Titans for the second time in less than a month, following a 67-60 victory on Feb. 9.