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In the Marion County Knights season opening game Nov. 27 at Mercer County High School, the team struggled down the stretch and eventually lost the game by a final score of 86-55. The Knights were led in scoring by junior Clay Lanham with 12 points. Lanham was the only Marion County player in double-figures while the Titans had two players who scored over 20 points.
The junior varsity team also was in action at Mercer County. The JV Knights found a bit better going throughout their game and hung on in the end for a 57-54 win. With just over two minutes left in the game, the JV Knights led 55-45. A 9-0 run by the JV Titans brought them to within one point, 55-54, with 20 seconds remaining. Sophomore Clay Rodgers hit two free throws a few seconds later to push the JV Knights lead back to three at 57-54. After a couple of deflections by the JV Knights on the last frantic JV Titans final possession, the JV Knights hung on for the three-point win.
The varsity game started with a pair of free throws by junior Alex Smith after a technical foul was assessed on Mercer County for dunking in pregame warm ups. The Knights managed to hang in the game for most of the first quarter and had a lead all the way until the period was halfway over. With 3:49 left in the opening frame, the Titans pulled ahead 11-8 and never looked back. The Knights battled back, but got no closer than that for the rest of the game.
After trailing by eight points after the first period, the Knights found themselves in a 44-28 hole at the half. At the three-minute mark, Marion County trailed by 11 points with a score of 35-24. Over the remainder of the half, the Titans went on an 11-4 run to end the half and extend the lead to 16 points at the half.
Marion County held its own in the third period, but gained little ground on Mercer County. Juniors Latrelle Irvin and Clay Lanham made back-to-back baskets to open the third period, which would be the last time the Knights scored back-to-back field goals in the game. Both teams battled back and forth over the remainder of the period. The Titan lead expanded to 17 points late in the quarter. A late bucket by junior Anthony Mattingly made the score 62-47 after the third frame.
In the fourth quarter, the Knight offense struggled. Mercer County used runs of 5-0, 7-0 and 10-0 to blow the game open. The lead continually expanded as Marion County only was able to connect on two field goals and three free throws over the eight-minute span. Junior Clay Rodgers connected on a three-pointer for the Knights and junior Bobby Jaglowicz scored his lone bucket of the game in the frame. In the end the Titans ran away with the 31-point win by a final score of 86-55.
"Mercer County is a very good team that is well coached," Head Coach Montrelle Irvin said. ?We still haven?t found who we are as a team yet. We are still learning one another, and until we do we are going to take our lumps.?
Irvin knows that the upcoming schedule doesn't let up on his team.
"We have one of the toughest schedules in the state," he said. "Adair County is going to be a very tough game at their place. They play a very deep bench and all of them can knock down the three-point shot. Danville is a very hard-nosed team that has great guard play. Yet another road game that will be a big challenge."
Late in the week, Coach Irvin knows he has the toughest game of the season looming. Last year, the Knights went to Richmond and came out with a 87-53 loss to the Indians. Currently, the Indians are ranked fourth in the state according to Irvin.
"They have a complete package,? Irvin said about the Indians. "They can play inside, outside, and have a deep bench."
Following the Madison Central game, the Knights will host Green County.
"Green County has a lot of kids that came back from last year," Irvin said. "They have a 6'6' kid in the middle with some guards that are cat quick."
Irvin knows that even with the tough schedule in front of his team, they have potential.
"We are young, but with a schedule like this, we have to grow up real quick," he said.
Marion County 11 17 19 8 - 55
Mercer County 19 25 18 24 - 86
Marion County (0-1): Clay Lanham 12, Latrelle Irvin 9, Blake Clark 7, Alex Smith 6, Chase Lancaster 5, Vincent Collins 4, Clay Rodgers 3, Luke Price 3, Anthony Mattingly 2, Bobby Jaglowicz 2, Anton Cowherd 2
Mercer County (1-0): Russell Sims 23, John Ingram 22, Will Hager 16, Drew Davis 5, Jordan Duncan 5, Blake Pennington 4, Louis Price 4, Marcus Warren 3, Michael Cox 3, Tommy Craig 1