Mercer County Coach Chris Souder wanted to see his No. 4 Lady Titans return the form they were displaying before last Saturday’s blowout loss to No. 1 Butler.
In a 72-63 road victory over No. 6 Franklin County Thursday night, he got his wish.
“We need a good bounce back after we didn’t play well at Butler, we had a poor showing. Of course, Butler’s good, not to take away from them,” Souder said before the game. “They made us look worse than probably what we were.”
Louisville commit Seygan Robins led the revived Mercer attack with 22 points, going 5-of-9 from three-point range. Robins and sharpshooting sisters Lexy and Faith Lake kept the Lady Flyers at bay by answering nearly every Franklin rally with a three-point bucket. Lexy went 3-for-5 from the arc for 13 points, and Faith was 3-for-6 from three-point range for 11 points.
But it was senior guard Lyric Houston’s first-half efforts that staked the Lady Titans to a 33-25 lead. She scored 13 of her 16 points in the first half, which included a 15-8 edge in the second quarter.
Franklin County Coach Joey Thacker knew his team’s half-court defense had not been tested leading into this rematch of last season’s Sweet Sixteen semifinalists.
“Against Mercer County, you’ve got to guard the line because about 48 percent of their field-goal attempts are behind the arc,” Thacker said before the game.
Mercer (12-4) held true to that stat, shooting 25 of their 53 attempts from three-point range. Worse yet for the Lady Flyers, Mercer made 11 of them.
Both teams put pressure on the ball all the way up the court, but Mercer’s zone proved more effective, forcing 24 Franklin County turnovers. The Lady Titans committed 13.
Kindall Talley led Franklin (13-3) with 17 points and tried to help the Lady Flyers keep pace with Mercer’s three-point barrage, shooting 5-or-9 from three herself. Rebecca Cook and Princess Stewart scored 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Last year, Mercer won the regular-season battle between these teams as well but fell to Franklin in the state semis. This year, Souder is looking to get through the “dog days of January” and make another deep run into March.
“We’re tired and we’re off schedule because of snow days, so we’ve got to fight through that,” Souder said. “Every team goes through it, but I told them that our schedule is so tough that we can’t really afford to do a lot of that.”
Mercer County 72, Franklin County 63
Mercer County (12-4): Davis 4, Robins 22, F. Lake 11, L. Lake 13, Souder 6, Houston 16.
Franklin County (13-3): Talley 17, Stewart 12, Cook 14, Miles 7, Hogan 1, Courtney 9, Thacker 3.