HARRODSBURG — The Mercer County girls were not looking ahead to Tuesday’s matchup with defending 12th Region champion Lincoln County, and they continued to dominate their 46th District competition Saturday.
Cassidy Martin scored 16 of her game-high 22 points in the first half and the host Titans scored the game’s first 11 points off turnovers and led by 19 points at the half en route to a 66-48 win over the Bulldogs.
“We wanted to jump on them early, set the tone early, and the kids did a god job of that. We kind of relaxed in the second quarter, they made some shots and got back in the game, but it was game where it was never really in doubt,” Mercer assistant coach Spencer Tatum said. “We try to get as many easy baskets as possible, and we did do that early. Our kids were kind of chomping at the bit and I think that’s one reason we got off to such a good start.”
Catheryne Claunch, who missed eight games with a knee before returning briefly Monday against West Jessamine, opened the game with a 3-pointer. The Titans (18-6, 6-0 district) then got a bucket from Martin, two from Raegan Freeman and another jumper from Martin to make it 11-3 with 3:45 left in the first quarter.
Claunch finished with 15 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals in her first significant action since first getting injured against Anderson County on Jan. 8.
“She played well, she was shaking the rust off,” Tatum said. “That’s what we wanted. We were glad that she was released on Monday to get a couple of games under her belt, because the last couple of weeks of the season we’ve got a lot of tough games under our belt, a lot of region games. We’ve got a good, tough stretch coming up.”
A 3-pointer from Freeman, who finished with 11 points, four steals and four assists and six boards, and a steal and layup and 3-pointer from Martin made it 19-4 after a quarter. Mercer had 21 points off 20 Burgin turnovers.
“Mercer’s a good team, and I feel like we can play with them when we come and play four quarters,” Burgin coach Ray Daniels said. “We turned the ball over away too much in the first half, and against a good team we’ve got to come out and play four good quarters, and we’ve shown glimpses of that. Tonight we didn’t come out ready to play.”
It took Mercer a bit to get going in the second quarter, as the Titans missed their first three shots and turned the ball over four times before Martin scored inside to give them a 21-7 lead with 5:01 left in the first half. Huffman’s 3-pointer made it 29-11, and a bucket from Freeman gave Mercer a 33-14 halftime edge.
The one downside to the half for Mercer was that senior guard Carli Souder injured her right elbow late in the first half and did not return. Mercer coach Chris Souder, who left the gym immediately after the game, said he thought it was a dislocated elbow.
“I think that kind of stunned some of our kids there, and we didn’t have the same intensity in the second half that we had in the first half,” Tatum said. “But they made some shots and played well as well.”
Mercer was 13 for 34 from the field in the first half and finished 25 for 55 overall, 8 for 29 from 3-point range and 8 for 10 at the free throw line. Martin added three steals and a team-high seven rebounds.
Mercer opened the third quarter on a 9-2 run, getting a jumper from Martin, a 3-pointer from Heidi Huffman and two buckets from Claunch to open a 42-16 lead with 3:02 left in the quarter. Burgin used a 10-2 run — with two 3s from Taylor Sanders and four points from Summer Burke, to put the lead to 44-26 after three quarter.
A putback from Sanders made it 44-28 30 seconds into the fourth quarter, but that was as close as Burgin would get, although the Bulldogs got within 17 points five times, the last at 59-42 with 2:40 left in the game.
Sanders had 15 points and six rebounds for Burgin, which finished 19 for 42 from the field and 6 for 17 at the foul line. Liz Marcinek had 11 points and 10 boards and Burke had 13 points and four rebounds for the Bulldogs (12-10, 2-2).
Burgin 4 14 26 48
Mercer County 19 33 44 66
BURGIN (12-10) — Summer Burke 13, Randi Burke 1, Liz Marcinek 11, Taylor Sanders 15, Libby Dismeaux 8.
MERCER (18-6) — Seygan Robins 2, Heidi Huffman 9, Cassidy Martin 22, Catheryne Claunch 15, Raegan Freeman 11, Kandace Gash 5, Madaline Bartley 2.