West girls lose to Mercer in 46th District Tournament
By MIKE MARSEE
NICHOLASVILLE – Here’s what we know about the last time the Mercer County girls lost in West Jessamine’s gymnasium:
- The seniors who led the Lady Titans to a state championship last season were in the second grade.
- One of their assistant coaches might have thrown her all-tournament team trophy into the wall.
- Their head coach resolved not to let such a loss happen again for a long, long time.
And it hasn’t. Mercer won its 10th consecutive 46th District Tournament title with a 68-25 victory over West Jessamine in the championship game Thursday night.
That’s 20 consecutive district tournament victories since the Lady Titans lost to East Jessamine in the 2008 title game.
“We talked after that about putting a stranglehold on this district,” Mercer coach Chris Souder said. “Our program just keeps going up and up, but at the time you don’t think about it.”
Hayley Spivey, Mercer’s top assistant coach, remembers that 2008 loss well. Spivey was a senior on that team, and she took out her frustrations on her all-tourney memento in the same locker room the Lady Titans occupied Thursday.
Like Souder, she said she never could have imagined that Mercer would dominate its district as it has.
“I really didn’t think so. Not that I’m trying to underestimate my own team or anything, but 10 in a row is really something,” Spivey said. “After that night, I think they just made a decision: ‘We’re going to do this,’ and they stuck with it. They take every game seriously, and it’s kind of expected now.”
Like most of Mercer’s games against its district rivals, Thursday’s game was no contest. Mercer (29-3) scored 18 unanswered points in the first quarter to go up 20-3, and the Lady Titans answered the first three baskets by West Jessamine (11-16) with runs of seven, 11 and 15 points to take a 53-11 halftime lead.
“I thought we were pretty disciplined and really energized. I thought we were clicking pretty good,” Souder said.
“I know we’re the big favorite in our district, but our kids have taken a lot of pride and taken these games seriously, and I really appreciate that.”
Emmy Souder scored 13 points in the second quarter and led Mercer (29-3) with 19. She was the last Mercer starter to leave the game for good with 3:19 remaining in the first half, as the second and third units took it the rest of the way.
“We’re getting good game experience for some of these young ones, and it’s invaluable,” Souder said. “Moving forward this time next year, they’ve been in this championship game so they’ll know what to expect.”
They’ll also have experience at cutting nets. The Lady Titans made sure to claim those, and Souder said that’s something they should never take for granted.
“You better enjoy all these,” he said. “Somebody asked, ‘Are you going to cut the nets down?’ I said, ‘Man, any net we can get, we’re going to take it and appreciate it.’”
Spivey, who joined the Mercer coaching staff when this year’s seniors were seventh-graders and on the varsity for the first time, said what the Lady Titans have done over those six years more than makes up for that district tournament loss in her senior year.
“I appreciate it way more as a coach,” she said. “I will take these years versus the one year that we lost.”
46th District Tournament
At West Jessamine
West Jessamine 6 15 19 28
Mercer County 27 55 63 68
WEST JESSAMINE (11-16) – Faith Osborne 14, Madlynn McDonald 5, McKenzie Ivey 3, Aaliyah Edenstrom 2, Delaysia Thomas 1.
MERCER (29-3) – Emma Davis 2, Seygan Robins 9, Faith Lake 11, Lexy Lake 6, Emmy Souder 19, Anna Drakeford 1, Channing Lewis 2, Ry’Ann Tharp 3, Timberlynn Yeast 9, Cameron Preston 2, Zoe Yeast 3.
Miranda Hungate, Burgin; Jalynn Landversicht, East Jessamine; Faith Lake, Mercer County; Channing Lewis, Mercer County; Faith Osborne, West Jessamine; Emmy Souder, Mercer County.