By LARRY VAUGHT
Nothing is coming easy for Mercer County as it tries to win a second straight girls state basketball championship.
First, the Lady Titans had to survive Lincoln County missing two chances to tie the game in the final 10 seconds to beat the Patriots by three points in the 12th Region semifinal.
Second, Mercer had 17 players and coaches get stuck in an elevator for over an hour at the team hotel Thursday night about 14 hours before their state tourney quarterfinal game on Friday.
Third, Mercer watched most of a 17-point lead in the second quarter melt away Friday against Owensboro Catholic in the state quarterfinals. Louisville signee Seygan Robins had 18 points (4-for-5 from 3-point range), nine assists, three steals and one rebound and just two turnovers while playing every minute against Owensboro Catholic.
However, in the final two minutes, she missed three of four free throws, including the front end of the bonus twice. Anybody who knows Robins knows she is money at crunch time.
So what happened? Robins had a major problem with a contact lens the last three minutes of the game.
“We thought she lost it, then figured out it was still in there (in her eye) but folded over,” Mercer coach Chris Souder said. “We didn’t have enough time to take it out and she just said, ‘I’ll be fine.’ We finally got it in (correctly) during one of the timeouts at the end.”
Mercer won the game 67-66 to advance to Saturday’s state semifinal against George Rogers Clark due in large part to the resurgence of senior Emma Davis. She had not been her normal self in postseason play but had 21 points on 7-for-16 shooting, including 5-for-12 from 3-point range. She also had six rebounds and one assist.
“Maybe her experience in the elevator helped her get going,” Souder joked. “We fully understand what Emma is capable of and today she showed it. She was fantastic.”
Souder isn’t worried that the way his team staggered to the finish Friday will impact Saturday’s game since he has five senior starters.
“I’m not real worried about a hangover. They have finished (games) their entire career, so they will be fine,” Souder said.
Any chance being trapped in the elevator caused problems for his team at the end of the game?
“I️ don’t any. It helped Emma,” he joked again.