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Anderson County's trek to the Sweet 16 ended just short Friday night.
Two-time defending champion Oldham County pulled away in the fourth quarter to post a 79-64 win over the Bearcats in the boys' Eighth Region Tournament at Henry County High School.
Clinging to a 55-54 lead with 6:37 to play, Oldham reeled off 10 straight points to take firm control.
The Colonels, now 25-7, move on to play cross-county rival South Oldham in the regional championship game Saturday night.
Anderson bowed out with a 22-5 record, a far better season than what most expected in November.
“They made the shots they had to out of our pressure defense,” Anderson coach Glen Drury said. “Give Oldham County all of the credit.”
Austin Wills ignited the decisive run with a 3-point play just 21 seconds after Anderson's Christian Estes had pulled the Bearcats within a point. Ironically, Oldham star Sam Gruber, who led all scorers with 28 points, did not score in the decisive run.
Oldham staggered Anderson early, building a quick 13-2 lead, but Anderson drew withn 34-33 by halftime, then grabbed its first lead at 40-38 on Austin Cummins' steal and layup. The Bearcats could not maintain their prosperity, however, turning the ball over on three of their next four possessions. The Bearcats could only pad their lead to 42-38 before Willis and Gruber nailed threes to tie things at 44.
Oldham dominated the fourth quarter, building its lead to as many as 18 points late.
But it was a contest much closer than the score would let on. Jay Smith led Anderson with 23 points in his final game as a Bearcat. Cummins scored 19 while Estes tallied 16.
“We didn't get a championship trophy, but we have a championship team,” Drury said.
For a complete report, see the March 6 edition of The Anderson News.