Golden Eagles take conference title

Staff reports

ALEXIS — The Mercer County Golden Eagles claimed the Lincoln Trail Conference title Friday as they rallied for a 59-54 win over the United Red Storm on the final night of the regular season.

Mercer County finished with an 8-1 record in the league and 14-14 overall while coach Jim Noonan’s Storm ended 4-5 in the conference and 17-12 on the season.

The 17-win season is a United school record.

It was a physical game that went down to the final minute when the Golden Eagles forged into the lead.

That was after United jumped to an 11-2 in the first eight minutes.

“We came out with somewhat of a junk defense that confused them for a while,” said Noonan. “They started to hit their stride offensively after that. We probably stayed with that defense a little too long and I take full responsibility for that.”

The Red Storm led 24-19 at the half and still was in front at the end of three quarters 40-39, as the Golden Eagles’ Mike McClellen hit a three-pointer at the buzzer.

The fourth quarter saw the lead seesaw with the Golden Eagles tying it at 52-all on a three-pointer from Brett Anderson. At the 1:42 mark, Anderson gave the Eagles the lead for good on a steal, a lay-up and a free throw for a 55-52 advantage.

United’s Alex Gavin scored 21 points.

Mercer County’s Tanner Dunn, led all scorers with 22 points — 16 in the second half — while Wood added 14. Anderson, who had the big steal and three-point play, also had a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter for his only six points of the game.

With the regional getting underway on Monday, Noonan feels the loss won’t affect his team.

“I don’t think it will have any effect,” he said.  “They know that all seasons will end sometime in the next three weeks. They just want to go out and play and whatever happens happens.”