Bearcats painfully close to upsetting regional title contender

-A A +A

North Oldham overcomes 10-point deficit in fourth

By John Herndon

So close. So painfully close.

The toll of a fourth loss in five games – two in overtime – was visibly apparent in the Anderson County locker room last Tuesday.

The Bearcats had seen a 10-point lead evaporate in the fourth quarter against North Oldham, the pre-season favorite in the Eighth Region. The Mustangs came through in overtime to claim a 48-45 win.

“I have felt for this team as much as any time I have ever coached,” said Anderson coach Glen Drury, whose career has spanned nearly 30 years.

Drury had seen his team fall to 6-8, but he could only think about how North Oldham had joined the list of teams that had snatched victories out of Anderson’s hand. “We are this close to being 10-4 or 11-3,” Drury sighed.

It was the ninth time in 14 games that a Bearcat game had been decided by five points or less. Anderson was 4-5 in such contests.

North Oldham never led until David Levitch buried a 3-pointer with 3:46 remaining in regulation to put the Mustangs up 36-35. Levitch’s bomb capped a 9-0 scoring run fueled by North turning up the defensive pressure to better utilize its size.

Mustang center Devon Rowan, listed at 6-foot-7, but appearing closer to 6-9, dominated the action. Rowan, considered the Eighth Region’s best player, scored only eight points, but had 16 rebounds, caused numerous turnovers with his wing span and altered countless shots.
“We have no one that can counter that size,” Drury said.

North Oldham moved out to a 39-36 lead but Darrin Laswell, who led all scorers with 22 points, nailed a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left to send things to overtime. Once there, North Oldham took control and was never as much as tied.

Anderson had led 31-21 going into the fourth quarter, shocking a North Oldham team that had been a solid favorite and was looking for its first-ever win over Anderson.

In North Oldham’s 15-4 spree over the first 4:14 of the final frame, 11 of the points were a result of Anderson turnovers. “A lot of that is that in our stage of development, we have not been able to work on what to do when you have the lead,” Drury said. “When you are up 10, you want to make it 12. You can’t give up a layup.”

The Bearcats eased out to a 20-14 halftime lead, holding the Mustangs scoreless over the final 4:15 of the first half. Seth Carmichael swished a 3-pointer from the right corner, then took a nifty pass from Ethan Kelly on a fast break to end the first half scoring.

Kelly was seeing his first game action of the year after recovering from knee surgery in December.

The Bearcats extended the lead to 10 as Laswell scored all 11 of Anderson’s third-quarter points, but Anderson went just 1-for-7 at the free throw line on the night. North Oldham hit 10-of-17 gratis shots for the difference.

Kelly sees first action
Kelly, a junior guard, entered the game with a minute left in the first quarter. He saw limited action in his first game back from December knee surgery but his presence was unmistakable with deft passing and effectively leading the offense.