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Buried deep in the published tournament bracket, Anderson County's consolation game with host Fairdale on Monday could have been seen as a mere afterthought to the casual high school basketball fan.
It was anything but that to the Bearcats, who got a measure of redemption with a 45-38 win over the pre-season favorite to win the Sixth Region and some consideration as one of Kentucky's 15 best teams.
Anderson led at every quarter stop in what coach Glen Drury called his team's “smartest game we have played.”
The Bearcats jumped out to a 15-9 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back.
“We stayed out of foul trouble, that was the big thing,” said Drury, who saw his team succumb to Bullitt East's deadly free throwing two days earlier.
The final score belied both team's penchant for the fast break. In earlier games, Fairdale had shown an ability to break teams down on the dribble but Anderson's defensive adjustments stopped that. “They were real patient offensively and we played a lot of zone,” Drury said.
Anderson connected on 54.5 percent of its field goal attempts but warmed up at the free throw line, where the Bearcats hit on eight of 10. Anderson had sunk just 36 percent of its gratis shots in the first two games at the King of the Bluegrass.
C.J. Penny led Anderson with 18 points, while Jacob Russell scored 14. Russell pulled down 11 rebounds, Penny 10.
Fairdale's Quintrel Morris led all scorers with 19 points.
Drury said Anderson, now 5-2, was happy to get back in the win column. “It's probably more important to the kids than to me,” he said. “The big thing is to get better. The kids are working hard and it was important to them to win.”
Penny named All-Tournament
For the second consecutive year, Penny was selected to the King of the Bluegrass All-Tournament team. Penny scored 57 points and had 28 rebounds and 18 assists in three games. He had a near triple double against Jeffersontown with 17 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.
Louisville signee Peyton Siva, who led Seattle Franklin to the tournament championship, received the Bob White Most Valuable Player award.
Franklin beat Jeffersontown 72-55 in the championship game while Male beat Bullitt East 61-54 in the consolation bracket final.
Others named to the all-tournament team were Domonique Wilson of Seattle Franklin, Thomas Jackson and Antwan Wilson of Jeffersontown, Charles Hankerson and Steven Lopez of Miami Coral Reef, Shawn Kemp, Jr. of Cherokee, Ga., Drew Kelly of Centennial, Tenn., Fairdale's Morris, Madisonville's Jon Hood, Sean Samsel of Manual, Bardstown's Jordan Hickman, D'Carlo Hayes of Male, Taylor Botkin of Lexington Catholic and Bullitt East's Willie Moore.