Eagles now 2-0 in LTC play after victory over Princeville
The Mercer County Golden Eagles used balanced scoring and excellent free throw shooting Friday (Jan. 15) to hold off the Princeville Princes, 62-51, in Lincoln Trail action in Aledo.
Princeville used three-point shooting to stay within two, 17-15, at the end of the first quarter. While the Eagles also hit some threes, Coach Brian Hutton after the game said he wasn't happy his team continued to shoot the long-range shots when they stopped dropping.
"We just decided we would fire three-pointers until they go in," Hutton said. "We have to be smarter than that."
The score was tied 23-23 with 3:58 left in the half when the coach called a time out and made his displeasure clear to the team. From that point until the end of the half, the Eagles outscored the Princes, 13-4, to take a 36-27 half-time lead.
Hutton said in the second half the Eagles played smarter on offense, going inside to Spencer Wood more often and not just playing long ball.
Princeville's three-point shooting kept the Princes within striking distance, however, with the final score somewhat misleading. Mercer County held a narrow 54-49 lead with just 4:21 left in the game. Until the last four minutes of the game, the Princes had a number of largely uncontested threes.
"I'm not very pleased with our effort defensively," he said.
Mercer County shot made 20 of 21 free throw attempts, including 14 in a row after going into the bonus with 6:45 left in the game. Eventually, it was a mountain Princeville was unable to climb, especially as it was forced to foul late in the game in an effort to cut into the Mercer County lead.
"We have shot the ball extremely well from the free throw line" this season, Coach Hutton said. In fact, he said, the Mercer County coaches are likely to say, "what the heck happened," when the Eagles miss a free throw.
He said he feels confident if his team has a seven or eight point lead late that the players will hit their foul shots.
Wood led the Eagles with 16 points. Quinton King had 15, Ben Nichols scored 14 and Ty Taylor had 12. Mercer County is now 8-8 on the season after a 1-6 start. More importantly, the Eagles are now 2-0 in the LTC.
The Eagles return to action Tuesday, Jan. 19, traveling to Wyoming to take on the Stark County Rebels. They are on the road again Friday, traveling to Galva. Both of those games are conference affairs and begin at 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday Mercer County returns home for a 6:30 p.m. tip-off for a non-conference game against Morrison.