Tigers top Cavaliers in city showdown
Mercer Christian (41) Vs. Princeton (73)
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
PRINCETON — As the Princeton and Mercer Christian benches mutually congratulated one another after the Tigers’ 73-41 win over the Cavaliers in Friday night’s Princeton Christmas Tournament nightcap, Princeton head boys basketball coach Ernie Gilliard uniformly commended each Mercer player down the line for superb effort and exhorted them to keep working hard.
When he reached out to shake Daniel Boothe’s hand, he went ever-so-slightly off message.
“Son,” said Gilliard, “you can play the game.”
The most recent Pocahontas Coal Association/Bluefield Daily Telegraph Player of the Week scored 27 points in spite of the defensive blizzard Gilliard had cooked up for him.
That not so much proved a point regarding Boothe’s abilities as it served as an object lesson to his teammates. It takes everyone to win.
“We had a team meeting yesterday and we told our kids how physical this was going to be and our young kids really stepped up tonight,” said Mercer Christian head coach Jeff Boothe, whose young squad fell behind early but fought back to trail only 31-27 at the half
“Princeton’s defense is pretty stout. We knew that coming in. Their defense in the second half kind of shut him down and we kind of wilted a little bit under the pressure,” he said.
Boothe, who also had six rebounds and two assists, scored 10 of his points during the second quarter comeback effort. The Cavaliers (6-3) also got 3-pointers from Chandler Scott and Eric Booth during the second quarter.
“(Boothe) is a great basketball player and a great shooter,” Gilliard said. “That entire team ... there’s no quit in them. They played with tremendous heart and hustle and they played as a collective unit. They’ve got several kids who can shoot the ball well and when those kids were able to get some free looks, they were knocking shots down. So it got a little tight.”
The Tigers (4-0) put forth a pretty impressive collective effort of their own. Logan Watkins led Princeton with 14 points. Bryson Murphy, Colton Fix and Jacob Whittington contributed 10 points apiece.
Gilliard was also pleased with Garrison Hartwell’s overall performance i the post and point guard Aaron McCabe’s defensive assignment to Boothe in particular.
The Tigers advance to face PikeView in tonight’s 7:30 p.m. tournament title game. The Panthers edged Mount View 52-51 in an overtime thriller in Friday’s opener.
“PikeView is an excellent basketball team. They’ve got kids that can dribble. They’ve got kids that can shoot and pass well. They’ve got some size in the post and they’re a real scrappy bunch,” Gilliard said.
“We better make sure we’re dialed in a little better than we were tonight. I think our mental focus was off a little bit. We’d better be paying attention to detail because that team can hurt you in a hurry,” he said.
Princeton Christmas Tournament action begins at 5:30 p.m. today with a consolation matchup between Mercer Christian and Mount View.

At Ralph Ball Court
Daniel Boothe 9 6-8 27, Scott 2 0-0 6, Bailey 0 0-0 0, Dove 1 0-0 2, Booth 1 0-0 3, Osborne 1 0-0 2, Maurer 0 0-2 0, Hobbs 0 1-2 1, Dillow 0 0-0 0, Preservati 0 0-0 0, Evans 0 0-0 0, Cline 0 0-0 0, Mullins 0 0-0 0, Vrinceanu 0 0-0 0, Shrewsbury 0 0-0 0, Lusk 0 0-0 0. totals, 14 7-12 41.
Hartwell 3 1-2 7, Co. Fix 4 0-0 10, Jacob Whittington 3 1-2 10, McCabe 2 0-0 4, Hamm 0 0-0 0, Cochran 0 0-0 0, Murphy 4 2-4 10, Logan Watkins 5 1-3 14, Ca. Fix 0 0-0 0, Vanthyne 1 0-0 2, Symns 3 0-0 6, Reed 2 3-4 7, Barrett 0 0-0 0, Hopkins 1 0-0 3. Totals 28 8-15 73.
Mercer Christian............9 18 8 6 — 41
Princeton......................15 16 26 16 — 73
3-point goals: Mercer Christian 6 (Boothe 3, Scott 2, Booth), Princeton 9 (Co. Fix 2, Whittington 3, Watkins 3, Hopkins).
Game Scoreboard
Mercer Christian 9 18 8 6 0 41
Princeton 15 16 26 16 0 73
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