The Mercer County Lady Titans’ historic season came to an end Saturday night as they lost in the KHSAA State Tournament Final Four to Franklin County.
Mercer County had never advanced past the first round of the state tournament until this season. This year’s team also broke the record for wins in a season (31).
In the state tournament the Lady Titans defeated Leslie County and Holmes in the first two rounds, before their matchup in the semifinals with Franklin County.
A year makes a big difference.
Last season, Mercer County fell to Elizabethtown 79-38 in the first round of the KHSAA State Tournament. On Wednesday, the Lady Titans were on the opposite end, as they defeated the Leslie County Lady Eagles 68-39 in the opening round of the Sweet 16 at Northern Kentucky University’s BB&T Arena.
“This time last year I was on the other side of that,” said Mercer County Head Coach Chris Souder. “These kids have worked extremely hard to get where we are.”
The win gave Mercer County their first-ever appearance in the Elite-8. It was also the first time a Mercer County team has won thirty games in a season.
“We set two records tonight. 30 wins and the first time Mercer has been in the Elite-8, so it was a big day for the Titans,” said Souder.
“It is pretty amazing. We definitely didn’t take anyone for granted,” said sophomore Seygan Robins, who finished with 16 points and six assists.
The Mercer County Lady Titans had already made school history by advancing to the Elite-8. They added on to their legacy Friday afternoon as they defeated Holmes 59-55 to advance to the KHSAA State Tournament Final Four.
“This is pretty awesome. To be sitting here and going to the Final Four. I am just so proud of these kids. People don’t have any clue how hard we work,” said Souder, who has led the Lady Titans to a 31-5 record so far this season. “I am so proud of these kids and the effort they gave tonight. Just a huge win not only for our school, but for our community.”
Mercer County controlled the first two quarters, leading 20-14 after one and 34-22 at halftime. But Holmes refused to go down quietly.
Holmes stepped up the defensive pressure in the second half, but Souder said he thought the Lady Titans handled it well, especially late in the fourth quarter.
“It is amazing how much we’ve grown. I’ll credit our strength coach, Coach (Chuck) Miller,” said Souder. “We’ve got stronger, because last year we would have lost it out of bounds when we got bumped.”
Souder was beaming with pride as he took the podium following the Lady Titans 55-51 loss to the Franklin County Lady Flyers in the KHSAA State Tournament Final Four Saturday night.
“I want them to come out with their heads up. What we have accomplished as a team this year, and to get to this point is phenomenal for as young as we are,” said Souder. “I am just really proud of the kids and what they’ve accomplished.”
Besides making it further than any team in school history, the Lady Titans won the 12th Region Championship for the second consecutive year and had the first 30-win season in school history.
“We started with over 200 teams and to be one of the final four is special,” said sophomore Emmy Souder, who had four points and seven rebounds in the loss.
“It is unbelievably amazing. Just to get to the Final Four is unbelievable,” said Emma Davis, who finished with a team-high 13 points.