Southwestern came into the 2013-14 high school girls basketball season looking to claim the school’s first-ever regional championship.
The Lady Warriors’ bid for a regional banner came to an end yesterday afternoon at Lincoln County High School, as for the second time in three seasons, Mercer County eliminated Southwestern from the Girls 12th Region Tournament.
Stephen Butcher and company jumped out to a double-digit lead in the early minutes of the contest, but the Mercer County Lady Titans would storm back to come away with a 79-68 victory.
The 11-point loss to Mercer County brought an end to Southwestern’s season – a year that saw them finish with a mark of 24-7 and win another 48th District title.
Things just didn’t seem to go the way the Lady Warriors wanted them to, but Butcher was proud of the way his team battled.
“A lot of the things that went on were my fault – I didn’t have us prepared for their pressure,” began Butcher. “In the third quarter, for whatever reason, all those loose balls seemed to go their way. I don’t think that was due to a lack of effort on our part, though.”
Thanks to a 13-point performance from junior Adison Corder in the opening frame, Southwestern ran out to a 23-13 lead over the Lady Titans. Dylana Fothergill and Elisabeth Latham both had 4 points each in the first period.
The second quarter would not be as kind to the Lady Warriors, as Mercer County outscored Southwestern by a margin of 23-11. The Lady Titans took advantage of several Southwestern turnovers to take 36-34 lead into the locker room at the intermission.
Mercer County would outscore the Lady Warriors once again in the third period, this time by a margin of 19-13. Southwestern got to within two points at one time at 47-45, but that would be as close as things would get. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Lady Titans held a 55-47 lead.
In the fourth period, Southwestern was outscored by a margin of 24-21. Every time the Lady Warriors got momentum heading into their direction, Mercer County would get a big shot from Heidi Huffman.
Corder led all scorers with a game-high 30 points and 6 rebounds. The junior tallied 13 points in the first quarter and had 10 points in the fourth period.
Latham chimed in with 15 points and 8 boards, while Fothergill had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Destiny Molden scored 5 points, while Samantha Fitzgerald added in with 2 points.
The Lady Titans were led in scoring by the duo of Seygan Robbins and Lyric Houston, who both had 21 points each. Huffman, who had five treys, chimed in with 16 points.
Butcher and the Lady Warriors will be back in 2014-15.
“We’ve got to take this loss and use it as fuel for next season,” told Butcher. “We know what we have to do to get better. I need to improve as a coach and put us in the right sports. The girls have nothing to be ashamed of – they gave everything they had today.”
Despite not coming away with a regional title, it was still a season to remember for the Lady Warriors.
“We had a great season in terms of wins and losses,” stated the first-year coach. “We had an even better season in terms of people sacrificing and making changes. They’ve done everything that I’ve asked of them, and I’m so appreciative of that.”
"We will really miss the hard work and leadership we got from our two seniors – Allie Venable and Sydney Fourman,” Butcher concluded.
Mercer County, who moved to 28-5 on the season, will face Danville this afternoon in the Girls 12th Region Championship at 3 p.m. at Lincoln County High School.
Follow Michael Childers on Twitter: @GetChili22
SW – 23 11 13 21 – 68
MC – 13 23 19 24 – 79
SOUTHWESTERN (24-7): Corder 30, Latham 15, Fothergill 12, Molden 5, Fitzgerald 2.
MERCER COUNTY (28-5): Robbins 21, Houston 21, Huffman 16, Lake 9, Bartley 8, Davis 2, Freeman 2, Gash 2.