Third quarter run burns Mercer County

Robert Blackford/Editor
Haley Maynard grabs a loose ball for Mercer County.

A 20-4 run in the third quarter by the West Central Heat girls ruined Mercer County’s chance for a win Jan. 11. The game ended up in a 39-36 win for West Central.

Mercer County held an 18-12 lead at half-time and looked to be well in control.

Mercer County hit the first basket of the third quarter to increase its lead to eight points. But it was all West Central from that point.

After The Heat hit only two field goals in the first half, Ashli Burg hit five by herself in the third period as they outscored Mercer County 20-6 in the period.

“We took good shots and we knocked them down,” said West Central head coach Jay Blender. “We are not very deep but we played hard. I hope this bodes well for our future.”

Mercer County head coach Adam Link said, “We have seen this from time to time. We have periods where we just lose our heads. We get lazy or are slow rotating. They knocked down open shots. 

The Heat took a 32-24 lead into the final period.

The two teams fought back and forth in the final period with The Heat increasing its lead by 10 points twice.

But the Golden Eagles fought back outscoring The Heat 9-2 in the final minutes. Haley Maynard’s three pointer pulled Mercer County to within three points.

The Golden Eagles caught a break when one of The Heat’s players stepped out of bounds in the final seconds.

Mercer County had one final chance to tie the score with 6.2 seconds remaining.

After Mercer County head coach Adam Link called a timeout West Central’s Jay Blender did the same.

For the Golden Eagles final play of the game Link said he used one of the team’s normal out of bounds plays. “I didn’t want to draw up anything new. I did get the shot I wanted. We had our best shooter shooting the ball. She just had two defenders on her.”

Haley Maynard took the final shot for the Golden Eagles, a three pointer which could have tied the game, but it hit the rim and fell away.

Mercer County fell to 1-15 overall with the loss. They are now 0-4 in conference play.

West Central improved to 2-14 overall. They are 1-3 in the Lincoln Trail Conference.

“We have to stay focused,” said Link. Link said early in the season his players didn’t want to take the open shot. Now they are taking them. They just aren’t falling.

“We’ll see how the future goes. It was a true team effort tonight. The girls played their rolls really well tonight,” said Blender.

Samantha Swisher and Ashli Burg both went down with injuries during the game Swisher hurt her knee while Burg went face first into the bleachers damaging her cheek in a freak accident. Neither player returned.

Scoring for Mercer County were: Haley Maynard, 12; Bailey Krstic, six; Heather Harfst and Emma Downey, five; Logan Partlow, four and Miranda Biddle and Kayla Hyett, two.

Scoring for West Central were: Ashli Burg, 12; Samantha Arnold, 11; Brittany Simpson, five; Luci Lox, four; Mariah Brooks, three and Justine Dillard and Stephanie Ackerman, two.