January 28th, 2011

Mercy Buzzer Beater Clips Knights 52-50

Chris Jung

Senior Writer


Mercy Buzzer Beater Clips Knights 52-50
photo by Chris Jung

Hartlage scores as time expires to give Jags win

Mercy Academy basketball Head Coach Mark Evans can only remember a few instances when he's jumped in the air as high as he did following the conclusion of the Jaguars' Louisville Invitational Tournament quarterfinal game against Marion County.

"I think I've jumped that high before," said Evans. "Probably region finals from last year. Maybe the LIT finals from last year. Maybe the state finals. I do think I need to work on my technique though."

And Evans' leaps for joy with both fists clinched and pumping were for good reason too, as Mercy won a 52-50 thriller on Friday afternoon on Whitney Hartlage's baseline floater as time expired. The sophomore guard's game-winning shot seemed to sit on the rim for several seconds before eventually rolling in, igniting the Jaguar bench and setting off an enthusiastic celebration.

"The credit goes to Whitney for having enough courage to take it to the hole and getting (the ball) up on the rim, but the play was made by (senior point guard) Lauren Faris," said Evans. (Faris) split a few (defenders) and found our corner option. Whitney took it to the basket, it stayed there and fell in for us. I expected this to be a really difficult game. I expected to see the real Marion County today."

Mercy seemed to have the game well in control in the first half and took a 30-19 on senior Juliann Miller's 3-pointer with just under three mintues to go until halftime. The Jaguars continued to sustain its lead and even held a nine-point lead at the third quarter's 5:24 mark.

But the Knights would come alive late in the third period and abruptly steal Mercy's momentum. And when Marion County center Kyvin Goodin- Rogers' layup fell through the hoop with 1:55 to go in the third, Marion County had constructed a 16-9 run and tied the game at 39-39.

Another layup, this time from Patrice Tonge, 20 seconds later gave the Knights a 41-39 lead.

"I think you saw vintage Marion (County)," said Evans. "We were settling for some deep shots. And when you shoot deep shots and don't make them, rebounds are deep and (Bre) Elder took over and got it to the basket on us, and that was the reason for that run. We just had to get back and play some defense and quit settling for outside shots. Luckily we were up far enough that all that run did was make it a two-point game and we (eventually) got back up on our feet again."

The game's final period started with Mercy and Marion County all square at 41-41. The squads traded leads and ties during consecutive possessions, until Mercy senior Emily Goetz converted a layup to put the Jags back on top 45-43.

But arguably the game's second most significant play would occur with 5:03 remaining in the game, as Goodin-Rogers fouled out of the game for Marion County. To that point, she had ten points, five rebounds and three blocked shots. More importantly, however, Goodin-Roger's presence in the paint had been prohibiting Mercy's ability to drive to the basket.

With the Marion County center out of the game, the Jaguar approach quickly changed.

"That gave us the opportunity to get it more to the hole and I think that was the major difference in the game," said Evans.

That opportunity materialized during the final 1:15, as Goetz found room for a go-ahead turnaround lay-in for a 49-47 Mercy lead. Then, following a free throw by Faris to put the Jags up 50-48, Marion County's Makayla Epps made a putback basket off her own missed shot to tie the game at 50-50 with 10 seconds to go.

With no timeout called by either team to set up a play, Mercy's Faris squeezed her way through a pair of defenders, willed herself to remain upright despite some contact and found Hartlage in the corner with just a few seconds left in the game. Hartlage would catch the pass, avoid the trap, drive the baseline and let off a five-foot floater that hung on the rim before dropping in for the game-winning bucket.

Hartlage, who was named the game's MVP, was one of three Jaguars in double figure scoring with 11 points. Miller led Mercy with 12 points and junior Christine Roush had 10 points - all of which came in the first half. Goetz had eight points, five boards and four assists in another consistent performance for Evans' team.

Marion County also put a trio of scorers in double digits, as Goodin Rogers (10), Epps (13) and Bre Elder (game-high 18) led the Knights in the losing effort.

It was Mercy's fourth straight win, while the loss was the second consecutive defeat for Marion County.

Mercy, the LIT defending champs, advances to the tourney semifinals with the victory and will play Boone County at 10:30am on Saturday with a spot in the championship game on the line.

 

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