High School Sports

Mercy girls stun top-ranked Marion County

BOWLING GREEN — Mercy isn't flashy.

It doesn't have a slew of star power ranked in all of the recruiting magazines.

But Coach Mark Evans wouldn't have it any other way.

"We have something real special," he said Wednesday after his team upset top-ranked Marion County 67-51 in the first round of the Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls' Sweet Sixteen.

In front of a state tournament session record 5,757 fans at Diddle Arena, the Jaguars pressed and trapped and hustled their way to a win, getting 13 assists on 26 made baskets and scoring 20 points off of 19 Marion miscues.

"That's Mercy basketball," Evans said. "I don't think there's a kid on this basketball team that if you asked them how many points they had that they could tell you. They couldn't even get close."

Maybe it's because all the parts are interchangeable, all of the players play every position and they play every possession, at least they did Wednesday.

Ellen Sholtes led the Jaguars with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists, but she was one of five players who scored nine points or more.

"We knew that they were a great team," Sholtes said of the Lady Knights, who hadn't lost to a Kentucky team all season and had topped Mercy 69-53 just three weeks ago.

"We knew coming in we were going to have to play one of our best games of the season to beat this team and I think we did that," Sholtes said.

Mercy (24-8) grabbed a 22-12 lead after one quarter on an 11-2 run capped by a Malisa Cruz three-pointer at the buzzer. Cruz had 10 points for the Jaguars, who were making their first trip to state since 2006.

Marion County (33-2) closed out the half with a 7-2 run to pull within three points 32-29. Then the Jaguars raced out of the locker room with a 14-4 run and barely looked back from there.

Emily Goetz, who finished with 13 points, scored seven straight out of the locker room. Juliann Miller added 12 points and four boards for Mercy.

"They were attacking and we were back on our heels, making some passes we normally don't make," Marion's Trent Milby said. "They were just a step faster than we were on that aspect of the game."

Kyvin Goodin-Rogers led Marion County with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Makayla Epps, ranked one of the nation's top freshman prospects by several recruiting services, scored 13 points and had three assists for the Knights, but she also turned the ball over eight times against the changing defenses and traps of the Jags.

"Mentally they had us beat," Epps said. "It was a big stage and we hadn't been here before. ... We're a young team. They were older and smarter than us."

But Milby refused to use the Knights' youth as an excuse.

"Mercy outplayed us," he said. "They outcoached us. They did everything right and we couldn't get going."

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