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NEW CASTLE – Anderson County can only hope for a repeat performance on the basketball court at Henry County High School in two weeks.
For years, Bearcat coach Glen Drury has wanted a game in the Henry gym, one that has an old fieldhouse look and a spacious shooting background at one end. And, as it has every year since 1963, the Henry gym will host the Eighth Region Tournament from Feb. 25-March 2.
Performances like the Bearcats put together at Henry last Tuesday night would give the Bearcats a fighting chance at playing in Rupp Arena for the Sweet 16 the following week.
The Bearcats used a stifling defense to knock Henry County down, then followed with a barrage of fourth quarter 3-point shots to knock the Wildcats out, 70-54.
It was a fourth-quarter flurry from guards Austin Cummins and Christian Estes that turned things into a rout. While Anderson was firmly in control, leading 31-18 at the half and 48-35 after three quarters, Estes and Cummins each hit a pair 3-pointers in 110 seconds to push the Anderson lead to 60-35.
The lead topped out at 66-40 after another bomb from Estes and of Anderson's 22 points in the final frame, 21 came from beyond the arc. Cummins, who led Anderson with 20 points, hit three in the fourth quarter to go along with his trio of triples in the third quarter too.
Estes scored 19 points for the Bearcats while Jay Smith and Luke Mann each tallied 11.
“It was a barrage of threes,” Drury noted. “It went from an 11-point lead to 25 just like that. When you are hitting threes, it does that. But the three is a double-edged sword. You can't let it be the only weapon you have.”
Last Tuesday, Anderson had many weapons. Mann repeatedly powered his way to baskets in the lane while Ross Cox and Austin Linzy were able to battle Henry's twin towers of Derek Jeffries and Austin Young to a virtual standoff on the boards as Anderson won the rebounding battle 25-18.
Anderson struggled early, trailing 10-9 after a quarter, but took the lead for good when Smith swished a three to make it 14-11 at the 7:13 mark of the second quarter.
The Bearcats turned up the defensive heat to force numerous second quarter turnovers when they outscored Henry 22-8. For the game, Henry coughed the ball up 21 times, many leading to easy Anderson baskets.
Last Tuesday, Anderson put together the kind of performance that it will need every night when the district tournament starts next week. The Bearcats outrebounded a bigger team and forced 21 errors.
“Your deep runs are determined by your rebounds, taking care of the basketball and your defense,” Drury said. “They are the common denominators to deep runs.”
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