The #3 ranked (MBCA Class 1) Mercer Lady Cardinals trailed for most of the first three quarters of a Tuesday night showdown with #10 Southwest Livingston, but a strong effort in the fourth quarter from senior Bailey Owens, along with a tough defensive effort, allowed the Lady Cards to catch and beat the rival Lady Wildcats, 49-43.
In action broadcast on KTTN FM 92.3, Southwest led by nine points (18-9) after one quarter, and by five (26-21) at halftime. However, by the end of the third quarter, Mercer cut the lead to one point, setting the stage for the dramatic fourth.
One game after being held to eight points and suffering an injury scare to her surgically repaired knee, Owens scored 24 to lead Mercer to its 7th win in eight tries this season. Nicole Kost added 12 points for the winning side. Southwest’s dynamic duo of Kortlyn Rounkles and Kaylie Campbell was outstanding, although, like the team, their potent offense was slowed in the second half. Rounkles scored 20 points and Campbell 15 for Southwest, now 6-2. The Lady Wildcats had a six-game winning streak snapped.
The Mercer boys, much like the girls, were able to take the spirit out of a Wildcat upset bid with strong second-half defense, in a 54-38 win that pushes the Cardinals to 6-2, while dropping the Wildcats to 1-6.
Bryer Noe dominated with his floor game for Mercer, scoring 24 points, both on the combination of three-point shooting and dribble penetration. Hunter Shipley had 12 points. Southwest’s impressive freshman center, Mack Anderson, led the ‘Cats with 17 points while Brady Bothwell added 9 (on three made 3-point shots, all in the first half). Southwest, trailing 30-25 at halftime, was led to just 13 second half points.
Mercer will play at Newtown-Harris in an HDC Conference doubleheader on Friday night, while Southwest’s girls and boys have a quick turnaround, hosting Norborne in a Thursday night CLAA double-dip from Ludlow. Next week, Mercer’s girls and boys participate in the South Harrison Tournament in Bethany. Both Cardinal teams have #1 seeds.