COLUMN: High school basketball: Best bargain in town

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Hoops fans owe it to themselves to check out Bearcats, Lady Cats

By John Herndon


It didn't take long to wonder if rushing home in a cold car was really worth it.

After covering the Anderson County-Spencer County boys' basketball game last Tuesday, I hopped in my Toyota – freezing does not describe what it felt like – and rushed home to catch the second half of Kentucky's game at Alabama.

Granted, I had fired up the DVR before leaving for the office that morning, but watching later is just not the same. After watching about five minutes of that Tuscaloosa brick fest, two questions popped into my mind.

Will it be hard to free up this space on my DVR?

I rushed home to watch this?

Earlier in the evening, I had watched Anderson County put up an 88-72 win over a nice Spencer County team. Eighty-eight points in 32 minutes.

The Wildcats and Crimson Tide? They didn't reach 88 until Archie Goodwin scored on a layup with 4:56 to play. That drew Kentucky within 45-44.

Eighty-nine. Points. Com. Bined. Finally.

And it took better than 35 minutes to reach that point. And from the looks of the crowd at Anderson County High School last Tuesday, that snoozer was the choice of many local hoops fans, even when allowing for the deep freeze.

Guess which game was more entertaining and fun to watch? You have to ask?

I am not going to say that every high school basketball game trumps the college game. For every Wildcat-Crimson Tide snoozer, there are scintillating moments like Butler's win over Gonzaga.

But I will say that if you are a hoops fan and have not taken in an Anderson County boys' or girls' basketball game this year, you are the one missing out. Here are several reasons to think about.

1. 20-1 and 14-2.

Those are the records of the Anderson varsity teams as this special edition of The Anderson News goes to press. Combine them and you come up with 34-3 or a winning percentage of .919.

Consider this: The eight Kentucky national champion men's teams have a combined winning percentage of – get this – .919.

(If you go one digit farther, the current Anderson teams actually have a slight edge, .9189 to .9187, but you get the ieda.)

We don't know if that clip will hold up at Anderson, but I do know that if you have missed Anderson County basketball this winter, you have missed out on...

2. Championship basketball.

I am not sure we know how good the Anderson boys really are. They ARE 14-2 and the schedule has been OK, but not a killer. The two losses were games they should have won but they have a few surprising wins, too. What I do know is senior guard Jay Smith might just be the best player no one east of Tyrone has ever heard of. I do know this team has very good chemistry and lays everything it has on the floor every night.

As for the Anderson girls? Oh, my goodness. This team can play the game.

The girls' game is different than the one the boys play, no question. It is not nearly as physical, the athleticism is not on the same level, but it is not the girls' basketball of 30-40 years ago, when

And did I mention the Lady Bearcats are ranked No. 2 in the state by at least two polls and are in everybody's Top 5.

I have been writing for this paper since 1985 and can count on one hand the number of Anderson County teams that had a legitimate chance at going deep in the state tournament or even winning the big trophy.

This Anderson girls team, with a pair of big-time college prospects in juniors Eriel McKee and Makenzie Cann to go with a very strong supporting cast, joins that elite list.

You owe it to yourself to check them out.

As Allen Purnell would say, “They're goooooooooooooood!”

3. The unpredictability and finality of high school basketball.

The Anderson girls were actually regional favorites the last two years but came up short in the regional tournaments. The Bearcat boys were supposed to be decent but they are actually getting some respect as contenders for the Eighth Region title.

What we do know is that from the time district tournaments begin on Feb. 18 until the last big trophy is given out on March 16, only two teams – one boys' and one girls' – will end the season with a win. Every other team will have a heartbreak.

There is nothing else like March Madness at the high school level.

4. The Bearcat Den.

The Anderson County student section bills itself as “loud and rowdy.”

It is.

There is a reason Anderson County is generally considered to have a home-court advantage that few can match. The Bearcat Den – think The E-Rupption Zone or The Rowdy Reptiles Lite – is a major part of that.

5. At five bucks, high school hoops is the best deal in town.


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