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LEXINGTON – Anderson County seemed poised to rout host Sayre, scoring the first seven points, then building a lead as large as 33-16 early in the third quarter, but had to hold on to defeat the Spartans, 57-48, in the Sayre Holiday Classic opener last Tuesday night.
“We will take it,” Anderson coach Glen Drury said. “The kids are going to get better. This was the first time we have had to play with a lead and the kids did not have the experience to know how to protect the lead.”
Indeed. Sayre turned up the heat with its full-court pressure and the Bearcats aided the Spartans by committing unforced turnovers and some poor decisions down the stretch. “Give Sayre a lot of credit,” Drury said. “We have never had a nice, comfortable lead and they took advantage of our mistakes.
Anderson also missed the services of junior Darrin Laswell, who led Anderson with 19 points in just under 20 minutes of action. Laswell burned Sayre, hitting five 3-pointers and had one stretch early in the second quarter when he scored eight straight points in just over a minute, putting Anderson up 23-10. Laswell, however, stepped on someone’s foot late in the third quarter and left the game with a sprained ankle.
Sayre gradually chipped away and got within 47-41 as Mike Smith turned a steal into a layup, then converted a three-point play with 2:45 remaining.
Smith, a lightning-quick point guard, got his team within 51-47 with another drive through the lane at the 1:08 mark but after an Anderson turnover, the sophomore missed two free throws that could have made it a one-possession game.
Meanwhile, Anderson hit 10 straight charity shots down the stretch and nailed 12-of-14 on the night.
“When the other team comes at you hard, like Sayre did, we have not had the experience on how to handle that,” Drury said, “but we did make the foul shots at the crucial time.”
Sophomore Logan Woodside grabbed 11 rebounds as the Bearcats dominated the boards, 42-24, against a much bigger team. Sayre’s 6-foot-7 Ray Brewer was a major factor inside, blocking six shots.
Sayre recovered on Wednesday to beat a very good Harlan County team.
While Anderson blitzed Sayre with as many 3-point goals as 2-pointers, Drury saw that as a mixed blessing. “If we are going to be a contender, we are going to have to get points in the paint,” he said. “Part of our inability is our size, but we have to find a way to score inside.”