February 12th, 2018

Valkyries top Jaguars in overtime

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor

Valkyries top Jaguars in overtime
Sacred Heart's Ashlee Harris look to make a play against the Mercy defense / photo by Conor Revell

Mercy’s basketball team gave visiting top-ranked Sacred Heart everything it could handle and more.

But, the visitors prevailed, toppling the Jaguars 71-68 in overtime Monday night in what could perhaps be a St. Elizabeth Healthcare/KHSAA Girls' Sweet Sixteen® semifinal matchup.

“That was a good test for us,” Sacred Heart head coach Donna Moir said. “They threw a lot of different stuff at us. They face guarded Grace and they were switching their defenses a lot. I thought that offensively we handled their pressure. Mercy handled our pressure a little bit better and they were able to get to the basket a little bit more. I think we were afraid of fouling them and we still fouled them.

“We need to shore up our defense a little bit. I was proud of the way we stayed together and we were able to get the victory. I’m happy we played here. We never seem to play well, but we’re walking away with a win. Mercy had a great game plan”

Kristin Clemons hit the first of two free-throws to put the up Valkyries 69-68 with seven seconds remaining.

“I was a little nervous,” Clemons said. “I knew I had to try to make them. I’ve shot a ton in my life so I know we needed one to win the game.”

Clemons missed the second, but her teammate Ashlee Harris grabbed the rebound and was fouled immediately and hit both free throws to ice the game with four seconds to go.

“My teammate was on the line and I was ready for anything to happen,” Harris said. “I was in the right place at the right time.”

Mercy (16-9) turned the ball over on its final possession.

“We face guarded Grace,” Mercy head coach Keith Baisch said. “She’s one of the top players in the state for a reason. We just did our best to make it tough on her for the night. When the game counted, she took over at the end. They’re a tough team, but when it comes down to it, we didn’t do a lot of great things that we could have done better. I could have coached a little better. We found out we’re a good team tonight.”

Clemons had a chance to be a hero in regulation as she sank two free throws giving Sacred Heart (23-5) a 62-60 lead, but the Jaguars Regan Berger hit a layup at the buzzer to force overtime.

Mercy only led once the entire game and trailed by eight points once in the first quarter and 42-34 in the third quarter.

The difference maker may have been rebounding; the Valkyries won the rebounding battle 50-38 and outscored the Valkyries 26-9 on second chance points.

“There were a few stats that bothered me tonight,” Baisch said. “We gave up way too many second chance points. And then we lost the points off turnovers 17-8 despite only turning the ball over 12 times. If we can change that around a little bit perhaps we’re not playing from behind.”

Grace Berger, an Indiana signee, showcased her talents and skills, and finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds to lead Sacred Heart.

“I think we definitely started off slow,” Grace Berger said. “It came down to toughness and who wants the ball more, who wanted to go get the rebounds or the loose ball.”

The senior hit 8 of 13 from the floor including 1 of 2 from three-point land and 5 of 8 from the free-throw line.

Harris added 15 points, eight rebounds, and two assists.

“I think we just had to slow it down offensively at times,” Harris said. “And then we had to communicate with our defense and everything fell into place.”

Clemons added nine points and 12 rebounds while Kiki Samsel also recorded nine points.

“We do rebound the ball well,” Moir said. “Grace has such great hands and gets up there and gets anything. Kristen did a nice job of rebounding tonight. But, we have to get better at the free-throw line. To shoot what we did, we aren’t going to be able to do what we want to do.”

Sacred Heart suffered a big scare at the end of third quarter when sophomore point guard Erin Toller went down with a knee injury and didn’t return.

“We don’t know right now,” Moir said. “We’re saying some prayers hoping that she’s alright. It’s next person up.”

Regan Berger paced Mercy with 17 points and was 4 of 7 from the field and 9 of 13 from the charity stripe.

“Tonight she was the one we looked to,” Baisch said of Regan Berger. “I think we have a lot of different kids that can step up on any given night. Regan stepped up big. She did a great job and had the big basket at the end of regulation.”

Raquael Reese chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds while Taziah Jenks added 10 points and six rebounds. Hope Sivori was limited to six points but had six assists.

The Valkyries shot 24 of 69 (34.8 percent) from the field including 7 of 27 (25.9 percent) from three-point land and 16 of 29 (55.2 percent) from the charity stripe.

“I think it’s a great win for us,” Grace Berger said. “Mercy is a great team and one of our rivals. It gives us some momentum going into the postseason.”

The Jaguars hit 23 of 57 (40.4 percent) from the floor including 4 of 7 (42.9 percent) three pointers and 19 of 26 (73.1 percent) from the free-throw line.

Mercy closes the regular season at Christian Academy Friday night while the Valkyries host Covington Scott Wednesday night and travel to Bullitt East Friday night before postseason play starts next week. 


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