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Rockets Fail To Launch Against The Titans

The Harrodsburg Herald/April Ellis
Junior guard Andrew Tatum offloaded the ball during the Titans 62-47 victory over Rockcastle County on Friday, Feb. 9.

April Ellis
Herald Staff

The Mercer County Senior High boys basketball team had a big region win Friday, Feb. 9, against the Rockcastle County Rockets, 62-47. Earlier in the week, the Titans nearly toppled the 12th Region defending champions, the Pulaski Maroons, on the road when they cut a 16-point deficit to three points, but ran out of time to clinch the victory.

Mercer probably had their best defensive game of the season. Sophomore Kaleb Murray was tasked with shutting down the Rockets leading scorer, Walker Craig, and he did just that. Craig went into Friday’s game averaging 21 points and Mercer held him to six, four of which were foul shots. Once Murray was in foul trouble John Lincoln Perry took over and the senior guard also did a good job of keeping him off the boards.

Trevor Ellis set the defensive tone for the game on the first play when he swatted the Rockets’ first shot into the hands of guard Andrew Tatum, that ended in a basket for the Titans by Ellis. After Murray drew a charge from Craig and Mercer regained possession of the ball, Perry cut through traffic for the layup.

Tatum pump faked the 3-point shot and found Ellis under the basket, where he made the bucket and drew the foul for the three-point play, 7-2. Ellis and Murry both hit 3-pointers from opposite corners and the Titans jumped out 13-2, forcing Rockcastle to take a time-out.

The Rockets came out of the timeout focused and ready to play. They went on a six-point scoring run and trailed the Titans by three, 13-10, at the end of the quarter.

The second quarter opened with a basket by Ashton Drakeford.  This was his first real varsity game back, playing more than just a few minutes in the Pulaski County game since his season-ending ankle injury toward the end of football season.

Tatum intercepted a long cross-court pass, but the Rockets hustled back and fouled him on the floor before he could go in for the layup. On the ensuing out-of-bounds play, Jackson Perry nailed a 3-point shot and the Titans started to pull away, 18-10. However, any time the Titans stepped off the pressure, Rockcastle was ready to take advantage and put five unanswered points on the board.

Mercer moved the ball well all night and stayed patient to find a good shot. Tatum continued to find JL Perry on the cut to the basket and if it didn’t go in, Ellis was there for the putback. On the other end of the floor,  the guards pestered the Rockets at the perimeter and Ellis blocked shots. Rockcastle’s shooters tried to stay low out of Ellis’ reach, but Jackson Doughty stripped the ball for the steal once they got low. The half ended with Doughty hitting the 3-point shot at the buzzer for the double-digit lead, 29-19.

In the second half, Ellis rose over his defender, put a dunk down and followed up on the other end with another block. Doughty hit another 3-point shot and the Titans took their biggest lead of the game, 38-22, with three minutes left in the quarter.

Tatum executed a jump stop, but his knee twisted underneath him and he went down. He didn’t return to the game or dress in the Titans’ loss against Scott County the next night.

For the rest of the story, check out this week’s edition of the Harrodsburg Herald. Click here to subscribe.

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