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Cat Madness tips off hoops season Saturday

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By John Herndon

There's a new format but some old basketball names will be showcased Saturday when Cat Madness kicks off the Anderson County basketball season.

In a departure from the zaniness of previous years, Cat Madness will feature scrimmages involving some of the better boys' and girls' high school programs in central Kentucky.

Tipoff of the first game involving the Franklin County and Elizabethtown boys' varsity teams is at 3:30 p.m. The Anderson County girls will take on Nelson County at 5:30, followed by the Anderson boys and Garrard County at 7:30.

The junior varsity teams will tip off 75 minutes before the varsity scrimmages in the school's auxiliary gymnasium.

'We wanted to give the community a chance to just come out and see basketball,' Anderson boys' coach Glen Drury said. 'We feel we have a good group of teams and that the people will enjoy this.'

Drury's team might be considered the marquee team of the group as the Bearcats are ranked among the top two teams in the Eighth Region in nearly every pre-season poll. Anderson features 6-foot-5 junior C.J. Penny, considered by most as the top player in the region and considered by some the best of his class in Kentucky. Several Division I teams are already hot on Penny's trail.

The Bearcats won 21 games and a 30th District championship last season and return four starters, but Anderson is looking to replace four seniors who played vital roles for the Bearcats in ways not seen on the stat sheet last year.

The Bearcats will also not be at full strength as several players expected to play key roles for the team are still playing for the Bearcat football team.

Garrard went 13-13 last season and is expecting to be rebuilding under first year coach Lee DeForest.

The Anderson girls are expected to contend for the Eighth Region championship and will see Saturday just how good they are at this point as they take on Nelson County, a team that went 26-4 last season.

The first game of the day features Franklin County, a perennially strong 11th Region team, taking on Elizabethtown of the Fifth Region. Both experienced some heavy graduation losses from last season but have two of the state's best coaches. Franklin's Scott Chalk was a one-time assistant coach at famed Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, and E-town's James Haire has won a state championship.

'Franklin County is always very athletic and they have some kids that can shoot the ball,' said Drury. 'E-town lost Steffphon Pettigrew (Kentucky's Mr. Basketball, now at Western Kentucky University), and their talent level is a bit down but you know that as long as (Haire) is coaching down there, they are going to be good.'

The day will also feature a 3-point shootout among the teams and a chance for some lucky fan to hit a half-court shot. Members of the Bearcat and Lady Bearcat teams will be available for an autograph session following the action.