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The Anderson County boys' basketball team might have gotten a glimpse of what it could be Friday and Saturday in the Kentucky Bank Challenge, held at Rowan County High School.
The Bearcats whipped a pair of eastern Kentucky teams, including Saturday's win over East Ridge, considered a darkhorse contender in the 15th Region. The Bearcats also came from behind with defeat Pikeville on Friday.
Against East Ridge, the Bearcat defense was dominant in an impressive 59-45 win.
“Our defense was good throughout,” Anderson assistant coach Bryan Hyatt said in an e-mail. “It was the first time all year we guarded for the entire game.”
Anderson led at all quarter stops, but used a big third quarter, outscoring East Ridge 20-9, to take control of the contest.
Luke Mann took advantage of some mismatches inside to lead the Bearcats with 20 points and eight rebounds. Ross Cox added 15 points and Austin Cummins tallied 14.
“Ross Cox made some big-time defensive plays which led to a dunk and some other easy baskets,” Hyatt said. “Ross also had a huge dunk in the half-court offense that really ignited us even more. It was one of the better dunks I have seen by an Anderson player.
Anderson improved to 5-2 on the year. East Ridge fell to 2-5.
“It was the most complete game we have played all year,” Hyatt said. “We played good defense and were under control offensively.”
Anderson Co. 72, Pikeville 61
Austin Cummins poured in 33 points as Anderson County pulled away in the second half to post a 72-61 win over Pikeville in Friday night's session of the Kentucky Bank Challenge.
Trailing 30-27 at halftime, Anderson out-pointed the Panthers, 20-12 in the third quarter then extended the margin through the fourth. The final score was the Bearcats' longest lead.
“In the second half, Cummings got going from outside and it forced them to change their defense,” Hyatt said. “They went box-and-one on him and we started to establish an inside game with (Darius) Harvey and Mann.
“Their next move was man-to-man and Cummins went around them and made some real nice individual plays. Freeman and Harvey slowed their big guy down and allowed us to play in transition.”
Anderson jumped to a quick 9-2 lead before Pikeville started to pound the ball inside to 6-foot-5 center Zach Huffman. “We had trouble guarding him in the first half, which led to us attacking their set zone defense,” Hyatt said. “It really slowed the game down and led to us being down three at the half.”
Hyatt said Harvey and Zach Freeman slowed Pikeville's big man down in the second half.
“It was a good win but our focus is to keep playing consecutive plays,” Hyatt said. “Right now, we play real good in stretches but then we lose focus on the defensive end and that leads to inconsistent play on the offensive end.”
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