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COLUMN: Did we really know they would be this good?

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Lady Bearcats the favorite, Bearcats in the mix as tourneys start

By John Herndon

 

We knew Anderson County's girls would be good and the boys could be good, but as good as 44-3 good?

Repeat that again. The Anderson County basketball teams entered the final week of the high school season with a combined record of 44 wins and three losses.

Since Anderson was formed in 1949, only one team, the 1971 boys' state runner-up team, has ended the season with fewer losses. That team, led by Mr. Basketball, Jimmy Dan Conner, ended the regular season at 22-2, then won eight post-season games before falling to Louisville Male in the state championship game.

There have been other great teams with stellar records, such as the 1985 boys, who were 22-3 going into the post-season and finished 25-4.

To have both Anderson teams near or beyond those totals in the same season is almost unheard of. Suffice it to say it has been a pretty good winter around Lawrenceburg in 2013.

When the season started back in November, we knew the Anderson girls' team would be good. They were ranked in the pre-season Top 15 by the state's coaches and boasted two of the state's best juniors in Eriel McKee and Makenzie Cann.

We knew that McKee could be devastating in an open-court game and that Cann was drawing some interest from colleges playing at the highest level. We also knew the nucleus of a team that made the state tournament in 2010, when Cann and McKee were eighth-graders starting on the varsity, was still around. We knew this team had the makings of one that could possibly crack the state's Top 15.

But did we really know Anderson County would be ranked No. 2 in the state in nearly every poll? Did we have any idea they would be 25-1 going into Monday's game at Owen County?

Did we know the Lady Bearcats would not just beat teams, but would embarrass most opponents? Did we know they would have an average margin of victory just over 22 points a game? Did we know that they would be 3-0 against other members of the Top 10?

Raise your hand if you foresaw those things.

For what it's worth, this Anderson County girls' team is good. Very, very good. But it is not a lock to make the Sweet 16. More on that later.

As for the Bearcats, they were replacing four starters from a team that went 21-9 in 2011-12 and had little size. But at the same time, those who followed the Bearcats knew that the sophomore class was deemed to have good potential.

After 21 games, something around 14-7 and getting ready to play the spoiler's role in the Eighth Region might have been a good goal.

But 19-2? Considered a legitimate threat to win the Eighth Region? Let's just say that if you could have bet money on that in November, you would be sitting pretty today.

With all of the success Anderson coach Glen Durry has had (over 400 wins and two regional championships) at Anderson County, it seems odd to call Anderson basketball a surprise in 2013, but it is true.

No one, I mean, no one – except maybe the Bearcats themselves – saw this coming.

So with the real season starting with Tuesday's 30th District Tournament openers at Collins High School, where do the teams stand?

As for the Lady Bearcats, the district should be theirs for the fifth straight year. Of the district opponents, Collins might be able to stay close to the Lady Bearcats for a while, but really, Anderson should roll.

The Eighth Region? That is a different story. As good as Anderson's girls are, it would be a mistake to see them as a lock to get back to Bowling Green. At least two teams – Simon Kenton and a healthy Walton-Verona – have the firepower to end the Lady Bearcat dream.

Still, Anderson is certainly capable of getting back to Bowling Green and doing major damage once it gets there.

As for the boys, who really knows? And that is not a knock on Anderson.

It is an acknowledgement that the Eighth Region might be the most wide open I have ever seen. At least nine teams might think they have a legitimate shot and they are right.

Consider the 30th District, Anderson's home. The Bearcats beat Collins, which beat Spencer County, which beat Shelby County, which beat Anderson. Round and round it goes.

As for Anderson, the Bearcats could be playing the Region 2 champ in Rupp Arena on March 6 or they could see their season end next Tuesday against Shelby County. It really is that wide open.

“Collins has the most talent and the most athletic ability,” Drury said last week. “But there are 14 teams out there that could beat the No. 2 or No. 3 team.”

Owen County coach Devin Duvall, whose team was the region's All-A champ but who lost to Eminence early in the year, agreed. “When you get to the districts this year, there really is no favorite.”

“South Oldham is really good, but they play Trimble County in their first game. Trimble has had a good season,” Drury said. “That won't be an easy game.”

Chances are there will be few easy games when Monday rolls around and the district tournaments starts.

It will be starting on Feb. 18, but both Anderson County teams should be in the thick of March Madness, 2013.

 

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