Prep Basketball: Garrard boys snap 12-game losing streak with 68-60 win over Mercer
Garrard County¿s Slade Crutchfield, right, drives on Mercer County¿s Louis Price in the second half of the Golden Lions¿ 68-60 win Tuesday. Crutchfield had eight points. (Hal Morris / February 13, 2013)
After seeing numerous fourth quarter collapses this season, the Garrard County boys withstood every charge Mercer made Tuesday night and held off the Titans for a 68-60 victory.
Austin Sebastian scored all 16 of his points in the second half and Clayton Ray scored 18 points as host Garrard (4-21) snapped a 12-game losing streak and earned its first win of 2013.
“Definitely a boost of confidence. It’s been a rough stretch knowing that weve been close to these teams,” Sebastian said. “And to beat a team like Mercer County that has beaten some of these teams, it’s a real confidence booster.”
Garrard got that confidence-building victory, its first since a Dec. 27 win over Monticello, because it played a full 32 minutes, coach Dennis Pardue said.
“I think it’s great for our kids’ confidence against a quality team that’s beaten some good teams,” Pardue said. “And we had to play 32 minutes. The game wasn’t over until the last 15 or 20 seconds. And we had to go to the line and make some free throws.
“With the last two games and going into the district tournament, I don’t think we could have dialed up anything better.”
The same could not be said for Mercer (15-11), which did not come out with the energy on either end of the floor that coach Brian Britt wanted to see in the last week of the season.
“That’s one the things we’ve based the program on: We’re going to play with energy, we’re going to get up and down the floor, and bottom line is we didn’t defend very well. We’re last in the area and last in the region on giving up points,” he said.
“When you’re giving up 67, 70 points a game and your offense isn’t there, you going to lose a lot of games. And that’s one of the things we have to concentrate on these last couple of games.”
Garrard led 42-37 entering the fourth quarter, but where the Lions failed to make the plays to win previously, they nearly made them all over the final eight minutes Tuesday.
Two free throws from Nick McCollum, who had eight points, made it a 49-40 game with 6:28 to go. Two more from Sebastian, who was 6 for 6 from the line in the fourth quarter and 8 for 8 overall, after a Jesse Ray steal made it a 57-47 game with 4:00 to play.
Mercer got within six points at 61-55 on Russell Sims’ drive with 2:18 remaining, but Garrard was 7 for 12 at the line from there, and the Titans never got closer.
John Ingram had 18 points, Sims had 13 and Will Hager added 11 for the Titans, who were 19 for 41 from the field and 3 for 10 from 3-point range and made 19 of 28 free throws.
“Tonight we played a little more one-on-one on the offensive end, which we have only done about three or four games this year,” Britt said. “We can get back to where we’re getting 17 to 18 assists as a team. Tonight we only had nine.”
Pardue was pleased to see his team hold a team down.
“I thought our defense was better tonight. We’ve really put a conscious effort working on that end of the floor, and we’ve put a lot of time in on our offensive sets,” he said.
Garrard finished 24 for 53 from the floor, including 10 for 20 in the second half. Led by Slade Crutchfield’s seven rebounds and six each from Ray and Billy Abney, the Lions outrebounded Mercer 35-18, including 12-4 on the offensive glass.
“Any time you make more shots it makes you step up other parts of your game. it makes you play better defense, it makes you rebound better, it just makes you feel better,” Pardue said. “And I think that was one thing that gave us a little bit of confidence, was the way we shot the ball and the way we defended.”
It was 13-all after one quarter, but Garrard came out and took the lead for good early in the second period.
With the Lions down 15-13, Abney hit two straight buckets and McCollum nailed a 3-pointer to make it 20-15 with 5:50 left in the first half, and Garrard took a 32-25 lead into the half.
Sebastian scored Garrard’s first six points of the third quarter, Jesse Ray then scored inside and Clayton Ray had a steal and layup to make it 42-31 with 3:16 left in the third quarter.
“The first half I don’t think I was aggressive enough, i needed to contribute more to the team,” Sebastian said. “And in the second half, I just came out with that mindset and put them in.”
Blake Pennington hit two free throws, Ingram had a steal and layup and Sims hit two foul shots for Mercer to trim the lead to 42-37 heading to the fourth quarter, but that was as close as the Titans would get.
Mercer County 13 25 37 60
Garrard County 13 32 42 68
MERCER (15-11) — John Ingram 18, Will Hager 11, Russell Sims 13, Blake Pennington 8, Jordan Duncan 2, Marcus Warren 3, Louis Price 1, Tommy Craig 4.
GARRARD (4-21) — Austin Sebastian 16, Nick McCollum 8, Slade Crutchfield 8, Logan Teague 4, Billy Abney 4, Jacob Smith 5, Clayton Ray 18, Jesse Ray 5.