Hayley Harrison and Clark County finally found the shooting touch in Rupp Arena in the second half and outlasted Mercy in a 65-64 first-round shootout Wednesday in the 58th KHSAA Girls’ Sweet Sixteen.
In a game that had 17 three-pointers, Harrison made three of them and Brianna Banks added another in the third as the Cardinals turned a 27-21 halftime deficit into a 46-41 advantage at the final scheduled break.
The Jaguars did not go away, however, as both teams traded haymakers in a game that wasn’t decided until the final seconds.
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“It was frustrating to give up some of those open threes, but we were glad to see some go in on our offensive end,” Clark Coach Robbie Graham said. “It was a very frustrating first half ... In the second half, making shots put a little pep in our step and our defense got better ... We knew it was going to be a 32-minute, blow-for-blow battle.”
Mercy shrugged off Clark’s third-quarter surge with back-to-back threes from Regan Berger and Hope Sivori to cut the lead to 48-47 with 6:39 to go. Clark responded with six unanswered, capped by Tyra Flowers’ fast-break layup that put the Cardinals up 54-47 with 4:42 left and prompting a Mercy timeout.
Without star playmaker Kennedy Igo, who fouled out midway through the fourth, Clark struggled to break Mercy’s press and the Jaguars scrambled closer. A Sivori layup at 1:19 cut Clark’s lead to 63-60. A Harrison offensive foul on the subsequent inbounds led to another Sivori layup attempt that netted foul shots and trimmed Clark’s lead to 63-62 at 1:02.
Clark broke the next press, but couldn’t control an offensive rebound resulting in a jump ball that gave Mercy possession down one with under a minute to go. Mercy got a loose ball off Sidney Shephard’s blocked three-pointer and called timeout with 33 seconds left.
But Clark’s Harrison got a deflection as Mercy tried to set up a final play and Jasmine Flowers got fouled after securing the loose ball. She made both free throws to make it 65-62 with 22 seconds left.
A quick basket by Jaylen Shorter cut it to 65-64 and Mercy fouled with seven seconds left. Wilson missed the front-end of a one-and-one, forcing Mercy to go the length of the floor with no timeouts; Sivori’s heave at the backboard bounced wide as time expired.
“I can’t say we deserved to win that game as I told my kids in the locker room, but we fought hard enough where we had that chance,” Mercy Coach Keith Baisch said. “I’m proud of our kids. There was a time (Clark) went on a nice little run and we could have folded. We did a nice job stepping up.”
Igo led Clark with 14 points. Shelbi Wilson and Brianna Byars added 12 each. Sivori led Mercy with a game-high 29 points, which included six three-pointers. Regan Berger added 14 and Jenks had 10.