Anderson duo plays well, but Hoosiers sweep series

-A A +A

Late back-door a fitting farewell for McKee, Cann

By John Herndon

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Makenzie Cann's eyes lit up. So did Eriel McKee's.


And certainly every Anderson County girls' basketball fan watching was thinking, “We have seen this before.”

Cann saw her Kentucky All-Star teammate McKee going back-door to the basket. Cann threaded the Indiana defense with a bounce pass that McKee took in stride before laying laying the ball in during Friday's Kentucky-Indiana All-Star Classic at Transylvania University's Beck Center.

It was what high school hoops fans had seen the talented duo do so often for Anderson County over the last five years and for three seasons before that at Anderson County Middle School.

The problem was that the play only drew Kentucky within 70-56 of the hot-shooting Hoosiers during the first game of the annual summer series at Transylvania's Beck Center.

Indiana fought off a furious Kentucky rally, then pulled back out for an 83-70 win. Indiana came back to win 83-56, Saturday night in Indianapolis, giving the Hoosiers their first series sweep since 2009.

Indiana led for all but 85 seconds Friday as the Hoosiers' Ana Owens scored 26 points and Miss Basketball Whitney Jennings added 21. Owens, from Lawrence North High School near Indianapolis, will be Cann's teammate at the University of Cincinnati while Jennings, of Logansport, will be attending the University of Iowa.

Kentucky, which had controlled the girls' portion of the old series in recent years, found itself in a quick hole when Indiana went on a 9-0 run to go in front 18-8 with 12:30 left in the first half. The Hoosiers led by as many as 14 in the first half, then pushed the advantage to 22 at 67-45 midway through the second half.

Indiana blistered the nets from long range, hitting 10-of-14 three-point shots.

Kentucky got within 71-63 when McKee, a Morehead State signee, hit a free throw at the 5:08 mark but that was as close as Kentucky would come.

McKee scored 12 points, behind Ballard's Javonna Layfield, who scored 18, and Butler's Danielle Lawrence, who tallied 13. Cann scored seven points and dished out three assists.

Early, Cann looked like she might have bigger numbers when she buried a 3-pointer, but Anderson County's all-time 3-point leader hit just 1-of-6 from downtown.

“I played decent,” said Cann, who had indicated earlier in the week that she might not have medical clearance to play the game. Cann battled a mystery illness throughout most of the 2013-2014 season and was only given medical clearance to play earlier in the week. Cann's mother, Sheri, indicated over the weekend that doctors were still not sure why Cann seemed tired at times through the year.

“At the beginning of the week, I didn't feel good but now I do,” Makenzie Cann said.

McKee scored eight of her 12 points in the second half, when she was able to slash through the Indiana defense. “I think I (played well), but I didn't have my best game,” McKee said.

As a team, Kentucky just did not have enough weapons to overcome the big deficit. “That was tough,” McKee said. “I think we might have given up a little bit but then we picked up the intensity and came back.”

And that Cann-to-McKee back door was right in the middle of that rally.

“That just showed our connection,” Cann said. “She knows when I want to go back door. I didn't have to tell her. I just looked at her and she looked at me.”

It was vintage Lady Bearcat basketball on display with the best players of two states.

“I think you got to see flashes of their games ane what they do best,” said Lexington Christian coach Nick Cann, Makenzie Cann's older brother and a former Anderson assistant. Recently retired Anderson head coach Tony Kays and assistant coach Clay Birdwhistell were not able to attend Friday'sa game.

“Makenzie moved the ball really well and made some nice passes, Nick Cann said. “She made a three early. I think you got to see Eriel, especially in the second half, do what she does best. She was able to slash to the basket and made a nice post move. You got to see glimpses of what kind of players they have been in their careers. It was good to see them play again.”

Makenzie Cann, especially, possesses a game that is rarely showcased in all-star events. “She really thrives on good ball movement and she is a kid that wants to move the ball,” Nick Cann said. “You get in some of these all-star games and get a lot of one-on-one play and not a lot of abll movement.”

A big-time slasher, McKee can thrive in such contests. She had four rebounds and two steals to go with her 12 points Friday.

It was the last time the Anderson duo would play together on a court in the Commonwealth and that simple little play midway through the second half Friday night might have been a way of saying good-bye.

“That was kind of a special moment for those who have watched Kenzie and Eriel at Anderson County over the last five years,” Nick Cann said. “I know it was special for me to see them do that again.

“To hear the P.A. guy say 'basket by McKee and assist by Cann' was pretty special. We won't ever hear that again.”


Indiana rolls in Saturday's game

Indiana took advantage of a horrendous shooting night by the Kentucky All-Stars to win the second game of the summer series, 83-56, Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Cincinnati.

Kentucky hit just 16-of-72 shots, including 6-of-41 in the second half, and committed 27 turnovers. Indiana led by at least 10 points for the final 30 minutes.

Butler signee Sydney Buck came off the bench to score 14 points for Indiana, tying Jennings for the game high.

Kentucky's Miss Basketball, Ivy Brown of LaRue County, score 11 points to lead her team while McKee and Cann followed with 10 and 9 points respectively.

Cann nailed a trio of three-point shots while McKee pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.