BASKETBALL: Lady Bearcats to take on one of Indiana's best

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Columbus North led by Notre Dame recruit

By John Herndon

Since John Calipari and Tom Crean could not come to an agreeement on how to play that formerly annual December love-fest, it must have been left up to the high schools.


At one of Indiana's best girls' basketball teams is next on the agenda for Anderson County's top-ranked Lady Bearcats.

Anderson (located about 30 miles west of the University of Kentucky) is scheduled to tangle with Columbus North, ranked No. 5 in Indiana's Class 4A last week, in the Louisville High School HoopFest at Iroquois High School on Saturday. Columbus is about 35 miles east of Indiana University.

The Lady Bearcats and Lady Bulldogs are part of a four-game – two boys' and two girls' – extravaganza designed to showcase some of the best talent in Kentucky and southern Indiana.

And when the Cats and Dogs tip it off at 6:30 p.m., it should be the marquee event of the day.

Anderson went into the season ranked No. 1 by the state's coaches and the Lady Bearcats have done little to disappoint so far. They cruised past Casey County in the season opener last week, then survived at Dunbar and rolled past LaRue County on Saturday.

Anderson was to have played Christian Academy of Louisville Tuesday night and is scheduled to host Lincoln County on Friday. But there is little question that Columbus North is the top team on Anderson's schedule before the Christmas break.

But don't expect Anderson coach Tony Kays to say much about Columbus with other games coming up before Saturday's border battle. He's reminding his team to take a one-game-at-a-time approach through the season and setting the example too.

“We know a little bit about them, but we will look at film after our game Tuesday,” he said after the Lady Bearcats dispatched of LaRue County on Saturday.

Columbus North is expected to be one of the contenders for the Indiana 4A (largest school) state title. The Lady Bulldogs were a pre-season No. 2 in the Indianapolis Star's pre-season poll but have slipped to No. 5 in the Associated Press rankings. Columbus North, 4-1, dropped a game to then-No. 3 Lawrence North on Nov. 30. That one broke Columbus North's 40-game regular-season winning streak.

The Bulldogs are loaded with at least three Division I prospects, led by 5-foot-9 junior point guard, Ali Patberg. Patberg, ranked the No. 2 prospect in Indiana by Rick Bolus, has committed to Notre Dame. She is averaging 19 points a game.

A pair of shooting guards, Taylor Goodall and Kelsey Cunningham, both 5-9 seniors, could also end up at Division I schools. Goodall played for the Indiana junior all-star team that played against the Kentucky team that boasted Anderson's Makenzie Cann and Eriel McKee this summer.

In his fourth season, Columbus North coach Pat McKee, has won nearly 85 percent of his games at the school.

“We know it will be a big test for us,” Kays says.

Columbus North might have one advantage in that the girls' basketball season starts almost three weeks earlier than in Kentucky. Columbus North played its first game on Nov. 15.

Almost overshadowed by Saturday's marquee matchup is the fact that Anderson will host two-time defending champion Lincoln County Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Lincoln lost its entire starting lineup from a team that bowed out after losing to Owensboro Catholic in the first round of the state tournament last year, but the Patriots have not missed a beat, opening with impressive wins over Pulaski County and Rockcastle County.

Juniors Tiandra Hocker and Spencer Sims are expected to lead the Patriots.

Tuesday night, the Lady Bearcats will get their first taste of Eighth Region competition when they travel to Oldham County.

Oldham lost twice to Anderson a year ago, the second being an 80-31 thrashing in the Eighth Region Tournament semifinals. Coach Jace Bryant is slowly turning things around at Oldham and boasts one of the region's better players in guard Ashley McMurtrey.


McKee set to eclipse scoring record

Anderson's Eriel McKee scored 77 points in the first week of the season, leaving her just 19 points behind her cousin, C.J. Penny, as the all-time leading scorer in Anderson County history, boys or girls. McKee entered the week with 2,082 points in her career.


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