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Titans drop season opener

April Ellis
Herald Staff

The Mercer County Senior High Titans boys basketball team faced the Harlan County Black Bears Saturday, Dec. 3, in their season opener on the road at South Laurel High School as part of the 12th versus 13th Region challenge. The Titans struggled with turnovers and the Bears capitalized on it, beating the Titans, 88-45.

The Titans inability to get their offense going took their top returning scorers from last year, Senior Seth Caton and sophomore Trevor Ellis, out of the game. Harlan, however, found their flow early and had three players with 20 points or more and shot 53 percent from the 3-point line to Mercer’s 21 percent.

Caton put the first points on the board with a good move to the basket and it was obvious the game was going to be a physical one. Within a matter of minutes, Mercer was called for four fouls as they amped up their defensive pressure. Both teams opened with a full court press and while Mercer got the ball passed the half court line, Harlan jumped the pass and scored with break out layups. They quickly lead 13-2. 

Junior Jackson Perry hit his first 3-point shot for the game, but Harlan senior Daniel Carmical answered with back-to-back 3-point shots with one of his own, 19-5. Perry hit another shot from the arc with one minute left in the first quarter, but a lot of damage was already done and the Bears led, 28-8.

Perry drained another 3-point shot in the opening minute of the second quarter.  Caton found Ellis under the basket and he was able to power through for a basket, 33-13. 

On the next trip, Caton was fouled and after the inbound play, John Lincoln Perry found him as he cut to the basket and made the uncontested layup at the 5:58 mark, 33-15. Mercer picked up some quick fouls and the foul count favored Harlan, 10-5. Mercer regained a little ground when Ellis was sent to the charity stripe and hit both of them. Caton, with an assist from Donavan Wright, was fouled and hit the and one shot. Wright hit a shot with 36 seconds left in the half and Harlan led at the end of the half, 49-22.

The opening minutes of the second half looked promising for Mercer, but it was short lived. Wade Lane hit a quick basket and J.L. Perry had a steal for an easy layup, 49-26. Mercer then had back-to-back turnovers. Wright drained a 3-point shot, but for each step forward, Mercer took two backward. They followed with three turnovers and forced the coaching staff to call a time out. Wright and Caton added a bucket each in the remaining minute of the third quarter, 73-33.

In the fourth quarter, Mercer finally started to make progress with their post game. Jordan Axson found J. Perry who muscled through for the basket. Ellis had an and one shot after battling under the basket. He followed up with another shot off an offensive rebound. The clocked ticked down and in the final minute Thaddeus Mays contributed a bucket and JJ Goodman hit one of two foul shots. Harlan ended the game with a commanding lead, 88-45.

The Titans opened the season with a tough team, but have to handle the ball better to see success this season. Too many bad shots and passes, along with missed rebounds allowed Harlan to control the game. The Titans will be on the road to Mason County on Saturday, Dec. 10, at 4 p.m. to play Pendleton County in the Mike Murphy classic.


Scoring: Ellis 11, J. Perry 11, Caton 9,  Wright 7, Mays 2, J.L. Perry 2, Lane 2, Goodman 1.

Rebounds: Caton 8, Lane 4,  Ellis 4, J. Perry 3, J.L. Perry 3, Mays 2, Goodman 2, Wright 1, Andrew Tatum 1, Axsom 1, Jadon King 1.

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