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Pulaski Ends Mercer’s Regional Hopes And Season

The Harrodsburg Herald/Casey Roberts
Senior Wade Lane looked for some breathing room during the Titans’ regional loss to the Pulaski Maroons on Thursday, March 2.

Casey Roberts
Herald Staff

The Mercer County Titans boys basketball season came to a painful end Thursday, March 2. In the first round of the 12th region tournament,the Titans fought hard and held the lead at the end of the first quarter, but could not sustain it, eventually falling 65-48 to Pulaski.

The Maroons jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, but the momentum did not appear too big for Mercer as four different Titans helped Mercer score 12 points unanswered, giving Mercer the 12-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

As one of the 12th region’s favorites, Pulaski showed their resiliency, scoring a field goal or via free throws on seven straight possessions in the second quarter. At the midway point of the second period Pulaski led the Titans 21-18. Sophomore Trevor Ellis’s played a very physical game against the Maroons front court. With three minutes remaining in the first half, Ellis hit a pair of free throws that brought Mercer back within one point of the lead. Pulaski freshman Carson Fraley scored eight of his 27 points in the final 1:30 of the first half, which gave the Maroons a one point advantage at halftime, leading 27-26

Mercer had less than an ideal start to the second half, a pass intended for Ellis did not connect and Pulaski turned Mercer’s mistake into a fast break layup. The Titans second possession had the same outcome as the first, a bad pass leading to another Maroon layup. Pulaski kept their foot on the gas, focusing on getting to the rim for high percentage shots or free throws. With 3:15 remaining in the third quarter Pulaski grew their lead to 40-31.

Mercer began to show positive signs when freshman Ashton Drake made an aggressive move to the basket. Drakeford failed to convert on the layup attempt, but Ellis was there for the putback dunk, breathing new life into Mercer and bringing the bench and many patrons to their feet.

Junior Donavon Wright penetrated into the lane, and found Ellis for a layup that cut the Pulaski deficit to 40-36. Wright assisted on consecutive possessions, this time to senior Wade Lane for a long range 3-pointer with 1:30 remaining in the period.

In response, Pulaski turned back to their bread and butter, isolation for Fraley. Fraley stymied Mercer’s late quarter momentum by scoring five straight of his own in the final 45 seconds. The Maroons held a 46-39 lead heading into the final quarter.

The fourth quarter began as the third ended with another basket by Fraley. Mercer  struggled to keep pace with the high powered scoring ability of Pulaski, falling behind by 12 points with four minutes remaining in regulation.

The Maroons scored at the rim, on free throws or grabbed their own miss nearly every possession. Mercer attempted to make a late rally, but missed free throws and Pulaski’s ability to score seemingly at will made the task too much for the Titans.

For the rest of the story, including game stats, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald. Click here to subscribe.

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