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SHELBYVILLE – Every game is different, but Austin Cummins might wish things would turn out like they did last Tuesday every time he steps on the basketball court.
A sophomore whose status for the post-season was in question just a few days before, Cummins blistered the nets for 36 points and a school record as Anderson County routed Shelby County, 77-37, in the boys' 30th District semi-final at Collins High School.
Records are sketchy, but it is believed that the 40-point margin was the worst beating an Anderson team had ever administered to a Shelby squad.
Cummins had not been a major factor when Shelby defeated Anderson 67-65, playing only 8 minutes and registering 2 assists, 3 turnovers and 2 fouls. Cummins, who made his way into the Anderson starting lineup in early January, was far different this time.
Lofting soft rainbows that just tickled the nets as they fell through, Cummins hit 9-of-10 shots from outside the ark, breaking Lowell Gordon's school record of 8 in the process. “I have never had a player hit shots like he did tonight,” Anderson coach Glen Drury said.
The state record recognized by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association is 17 threes in one game by David DeMarcus of Lexington Sayre in 1989.
But Anderson's devastating performance was more than Cummins launching three-pointers, some from well beyond NBA range.
As a team the Bearcats connected on 29-of-40 shots from the field, a sizzling 72.5 percent that, according to KHSAA records, is the eighth-best shooting night by a team in Kentucky history.
“I have never had a team shoot the ball so well like we did tonight,” Anderson coach Glen Drury said. “I wasn’t expecting this and I never anticipated this type of score. I thought it would be a close game.”
The Bearcats were an almost unheard of 11-15 from three-point land.
Instead of having a rim that looked as wide as a river, the Bearcats' iron might have looked more like the Atlantic Ocean. It was largely due to superb offensive execution.
“There is no doubt our ball movement was better than Friday night (a loss at Franklin County),” Drury said. “That is the way basketball should be played. We played together. Basketball is a team game and when you have someone hot, you are supposed to find him.”
Perhaps the overlooked aspect of Tuesday's win, however, was Anderson's defense. The Bearcats forced only five turnovers but it was a brief stretch midway through the second quarter when Anderson forced three errors and two bad shots on five consecutive Shelby possessions that turned a competitive game into a rout.
“I have to give a lot of credit to our defense and the attention to details,” Drury said. “I am really proud of these kids for what they were able to do.”
Cummins scored 10 and Jay Smith added a pair of free throws as the Bearcats turned a 25-19 advantage into 37-19 in a span of just over two minutes.
“I thought our defensive effort was great,” Drury said. “We kept them confused by what we were doing defensively. We were trying to keep the ball in front of us, even though we were pressing more.
For all practical purposes, the issue was settled.
While Anderson was smoking, Shelby hit only 23.2 percent of its shots (13-of-56). Early in the contest, the Rockets had a plethora of attempts rattle around the rim, only to fall off. Shelby connected on 5-of-16 in the first quarter and things went downhill.
“We played more zone tonight,” Drury noted. “They had had some trouble shooting the ball.”
Shelby coach Jason Couch, who had led a statewide power at Louisville Eastern, saw his young team – the Rockets started two freshmen – wilt under the Anderson barrage. “I have coached at every level and there are going to be times when things don’t go your way and you have to play through that,” he said. “We didn’t show maturity. When those bad things happened, we just didn’t compete.”
Smith scored 16 points for Anderson and pulled down 6 rebounds. “I thought he was a warrior,” Drury said. “He did everything you have to do to be a coach on the floor.”
Inside, Ross Cox and Austin Linzy neutralized Shelby's 6-foot-5 James Gordon, a freshman who scored just six points. Anderson won the battle of the boards, 30-24.
“We didn’t get many second shots,” Couch said. “Anderson County did a great job controlling the boards.”
Senior Kipp Moore led Shelby, which ended the year at 10-18, with 15 points.