Mercer County’s trip to the Sweet Sixteen last year didn’t last long. Elizabethtown ended the Titans’ season with a 41-point thumping in the first round. But that was then.
This year’s Titans showed up at BB&T Arena ready to make history, picking up the program’s first state-tournament win as they routed Leslie County 68-39 on Wednesday afternoon.
Lyric Houston scored 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting and had six rebounds to lead Mercer County, which picked up its school-record 30th win. Seygan Robins, a sophomore who has received a scholarship offer from the University of Kentucky, scored 16 points and dished out six assists.
“What a difference a year makes,” Mercer County Coach Chris Souder said. “This time last year I was on the other end of that. … (It was) a big day for the Titans.”
Souder said Mercer was just “happy to be here” a year ago. While it’s still extremely young — the team starts four sophomores and a junior — the Titans are prepared to make some noise. They’re ranked seventh among the remaining teams, but they could only meet two others in the top eight on their way to a finals berth.
Mercer County jumped to an 11-0 lead and was up 23-4 at the end of the first quarter. The Titans took a 30-point lead into the locker room after Houston scored 14 of her 18 on 7-for-7 shooting in the first half.
The Titans won easily despite an uncharacteristic outing by Lexy Lake, their third-leading scorer. She scored five points on 2-for-12 shooting and was 1-for-10 from three-point range (she averages 37.5 percent from long distance). Mercer pressed Leslie County into 26 turnovers.
“I feel like we ran into probably one of the contenders here in the state tournament,” Leslie County Coach Mark Collett said. “ … I felt like we were trying to hit the home run too much, especially there in the opening minutes of the first quarter.”
Senior Emily Griffith finished with 18 points to lead the Eagles.
Campbell ousts Trimble 48-33
Taylor Jolly scored 17 points to help Campbell County beat Trimble County 48-33 in the Camels’ fourth Sweet 16 appearance.
Campbell County converted 13 of 14 (92.9 percent) free-throw attempts — including 6 of 6 by Jolly — helping offset 32.7 percent shooting from the field. Jolly, a Thomas More recruit, was 6-for-6 on free-throws.
Mackenzie Schwarber added 13 points and 14 rebounds for Campbell (25-9). The Camels play Franklin County in Friday's noon quarterfinal.
Shelbe Black’s jumper gave Trimble a 19-18 lead with 5:31 left in the second quarter, but Schwarber scored nine as Campbell closed the half on a 12-4 run and went into the break leading 30-23.
Trimble County (27-8), which trailed by at least two possessions the rest of the way, finished 1-for-12 from three-point range.
Black scored 12 points for Trimble County, which made its first state appearance in 35 years.
Holmes runs past Russell 49-35
Led by Jynea Harris’ 18 points, Holmes earned a spot in the quarterfinals by sending home Russell 49-35. The Bulldogs will face Mercer County on Friday afternoon.
Harris, a Lindsey Wilson signee, averaged 14.6 points during the season. Sophomore Tyrah Englemon almost posted a triple-double Wednesday for the winners, compiling nine points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Senior Maurissa Brown was the only other Bulldog in double-figure scoring, with 12 points.
Playing on the same Northern Kentucky University court where they won the regional title, the Bulldogs improved their overall record to 59-7 over the last two seasons.
Maggie Jachimczuk’s 13 points and nine rebounds were tops for Russell. Madison Darnell added 10 points for the Red Devils, who finished the season 26-9.
Holmes only hit 6-for-21 from the field in the first half but rode its defense to a 21-10 lead at halftime. The Bulldogs (29-4), who never trailed, scored nine points off 10 Russell turnovers in the game.
The Red Devils, meanwhile, couldn’t score any points off seven Holmes turnovers.