BOWLING GREEN — The Battle of Louisville was exactly that Thursday.
Defending champion Manual outlasted Mercy 74-60 in a foul-filled first-round game of the Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls' Sweet Sixteen in Diddle Arena.
At the end, Manual's Morgan Allen needed five stitches to close a cut over her left eye.
Mercy's wounded included: Kayla Richardson, on crutches after playing through a broken bone in her foot; Mackenzie Stilger, who was carried to a post-game press conference due to a lower leg injury; Mackenzie Stovall, also with a leg injury; and Malerie Martin, elbowed in the face.
The teams combined for 56 fouls and 85 free throws.
"It's always like that when we play them," Manual's Destony Curry said. "Always."
Seventh-rated Manual (24-8) played with Tim Holman running things. Suspended head coach Stacy Pendleton watched on TV at a hotel because he was ejected from the regional finals. Pendleton, who has announced his retirement, will sit once more — Friday's quarterfinals matchup against Owensboro Catholic — and hope he'll get to return for Saturday's semifinals.
Kayla Styles, a 6-foot senior, sparked Manual with 17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and three steals. She also held Mercy's Whitney Hartlage, averaging 17.9 points, to eight.
"Basically, it took days of prep. All week we worked on the screens that are usually set for Hartlage," Styles said. "I didn't 'help off.' I just stayed on her the whole time and didn't let her get much that she wanted to get."
Allen and Aricka Prentice added 14 points each. Destony Curry scored 11, all in the second half. And Krystalline McCune grabbed 10 rebounds, helping the Crimsons rule the boards 47-30.
Manual shot 22-for-60 (36.7 percent) and made 26 of 44 free throws.
Mercy (20-11), tied for the No. 2 rating, shot awful in the first half (4-for-20) and finished 14-for-43 overall (30.2 percent). The Jaguars made 31 of 41 free throws.
"It was a rough day," said Mercy Coach Mark Evans.
He praised Manual's play and said "I'm happy for them that they might have that opportunity to win the next one and get their head coach back. I thought Tim did a great job."
Richardson led the Jaguars with 12 points, 10-for-12 at the foul line. Morgan Doherty added 10 points and was one of three Mercy players to grab five rebounds.
Mercy led 25-19 before Manual closed the first half on a 17-5 run to lead 36-30.
A 17-5 start to the third quarter upped the lead to 18.
Owensboro Catholic 66, Lincoln Co. 55: Miss Basketball finalist Becca Greenwell totaled 32 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks to propel the Lady Aces (25-7).
"We didn't always play our best game, but we played hard today," Coach Michael Robertson said. "I felt like Becca came out to play, trying to make a statement for Miss Basketball."
Kaylyn Pearson added 15 points and Mikayla Berry had 10, combining to match Greenwell's 14-for-17 free-throw success. Overall, No. 9 Catholic went 31-for-40 from the line, scoring 16 of their 20 fourth-quarter points and their last 12 at the stripe.
No. 10 Lincoln (27-6), 4-for-6 at the foul line, was led by Sydney Harris with 18 points and seven rebounds. Emily Fox had 13 points.
Trailing 2-0, Owensboro Catholic scored the next 14 points and was never caught.
"We wanted to get that game in hand," Lady Patriots Coach Cassandra McWhorter said. "We didn't come out and get off to a good start the first quarter. ... We wanted to get back to that Final Four and even more. We had a taste of it last year and wanted to try to come back this year and make another run."
Earlier, Marion County's Makayla Epps picked up an award that helped fuel the 6-1 Greenwell's 24-point first half.
"I didn't win Gatorade Player of the Year, I found out today," she said. "So that was kind of some extra motivation I think I had before the game. Luckily, I got off to a good start."
Marshall Co. 56, Letcher Co. Central 52: Taylor Meadows scored 18 points and Mariah McKenty had 17 as the No. 14 Lady Marshals (27-9) advanced.
Julie Cornett had 16 points and 18 rebounds for No. 12 Letcher (29-6). Kelah Eldridge scored 17 and Cheyanne Stidham added 15.
Marshall shot 1-for-11 and committed three turnovers while scoring four points in the third quarter, as Letcher overcame a 31-27 deficit to lead 40-35.
Six points in a row midway through the fourth quarter put Marshall ahead to stay, 50-46.
Letcher came as close as 53-52 in the final half-minute, but McKenty went 3-for-4 at the foul line to seal the decision.
Marshall finished 18-for-22 at the foul line to Letcher's 10-for-10.