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Southwestern leads wire-to-wire in win over Titans

Feb. 23—The Southwestern Warriors were hoping to conclude their season with a win over Mercer County on Thursday night after winning three of their last four, and were also hoping to send their seniors out in style after honoring Hunter Hamm, Cameron Shipp, Collin Hibbard and Connor Hudson before the game.

What a victory it was for the Warriors as well, as they allowed just 10 points in the first half en route to a dominant 54-40 win over the Titans that was never in question.

Shipp hit the first basket of the game as the student section went wild for the senior guard, before a three-pointer from Hudson forced an early timeout by Mercer. Hamm continued the senior scoring parade before senior John Perry had the Titans' first two points. Hibbard became the last senior to score after hitting a free throw following a steal, before Shipp added another two. Senior Jackson Perry hit Mercer's first three to end the quarter, as the Warriors found themselves ahead 14-5.

The trio of Hudson, Jarrett Simpson and Zach Hutchinson went to work in the second quarter, combining for all 11 of the Warriors' 11 points in the period. The defense of Southwestern was dominant as well, allowing just five points and only one field goal, with that coming courtesy of sophomore Kaleb Murray with under a minute to go, as they led 25-10 at the break.

Mercer County finally seemed to find some of their offense in the third quarter, as both junior Andrew Tatum and sophomore Jackson Doughty hit threes. Hudson really went to work in the period however, as he scored 12 points and was seemingly unmatched on the offensive end. Southwestern was still comfortably ahead 41-27 to close the quarter.

The fourth quarter went by quick, and although the Titans were able to cut the Southwestern lead down to just 11, the Warriors just had too much on this night. Hudson added another six points, along with Simpson scoring on a ferocious slam dunk, and Southwestern was victorious 54-50 on their senior night, closing the regular season on a three-game winning streak.

The Warriors were led by Hudson with a game-high 26 points, as well as 12 from Simpson. Other scorers included the trio of Shipp, Hamm and Wyatt Stevenson with four each, Hutchinson with three and Hibbard with one. Mercer County was led by Trevor Ellis with 14.

Southwestern finishes the regular season with a record of 13-15 and will play McCreary Central in the 48th District semifinals on Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Jacob Pratt is the Sports Editor of the Commonwealth Journal and can be reached at jpratt@somerset-kentucky.com.