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HARRODSBURG – This time, Anderson County could not even stay close.
Not for long, that is.
Throughout a month of playing some of the state’s best girls’ basketball teams, the Lady Bearcats had been in the games, even in a position to pull the upset a time or two. They’d lost by one point to Sacred Heart. They had been within four before running out of gas in the final minutes against Perry Central.
And there had been an 11-point loss to Elizabethtown back on the Monday before Christmas. But there had also been the perception that E-town was the best of the bunch.
The Lady Panthers showed why last Wednesday when they routed Anderson 78-53 in a semifinal game of the Kentucky National Guard Lady Titan Christmas Clash at Mercer County. It was the largest margin of defeat for the Lady Bearcats since the 2009 Eighth Region championship game when Simon Kenton put a 67-40 whipping on Anderson. Elizabethtown did nothing fancy.
The Lady Panthers simply used a disruptive press, forced turnovers and converted them time and again to build a margin that reached as many as 29 points early in the fourth quarter. Elizabethtown, the state runner-up two years ago, did it with five players scoring in double figures, led by all-state candidate Natalie Greenwell. The senior guard hit Anderson for 15 points to lead the Lady Panthers, but it was a total team domination.
“They just have so many weapons,” Anderson coach Tony Kays said. “Greenwell could drive into the lane and then they would kick it out for a three. They have four kids that can take you on the drive.”
Indeed, it was such a play that gave the Panthers the lead for good at 9-8 as Tara Gilpin bombed from the corner with 4:30 left in the first quarter. It was the early stages of a 19-4 run that turned a 6-2 Anderson lead into a 21-10 E-town advantage.
The Lady Bearcats never seriously threatened again.
“We played really well tonight,” said Elizabethtown coach Tim Mudd. “I really don't like to be playing this well in December.”
E-town scored the first 10 points of the second quarter to make it 33-14, then cruised the rest of the way. Anderson cut it to 41-28 early in the third quarter, but that was as close as the Lady Bearcats came.
“It was frustrating,” Kays said. “You are playing hard and working hard and can’t seem to get anything to happen.”
The difference from the first time the teams played?
“Our press was different this time,” said Mudd, who who his 400th game as a head coach earlier in the week. “It was probably bad coaching the first time. We got out of our press too soon. We felt we could press them a little more and stayed with it.”
Kays noted, “From the start, we didn't handle their press well. We threw the ball away too many times."
Mudd, who has won a state championship (1998) and had two state runner-up finishes (1997 and 2009) at E-town, believes the future is bright for Anderson. “They are going to be very, very good,” he said. “They are very good right now. They are young and will get more experience. I would not want to play them in late February.”
Kays, however, said Elizabethtown, which was ranked No. 4 in the state in the first Rating the State poll released in Monday's Lexington Herald Leader, is a program the Lady Bearcats can look to. “They are a good team,” he said. “They are where we want to be. We are just not there yet. “They are not Top 10 for nothing.”
Lady Bearcats defeat Mercer, finish third in tourney
The Lady Bearcats jumped to a quick 15-4 lead in the first quarter on their way to a 52-46 win over Mercer County in the tournament's third-place game on Thursday. Cann led Anderson with 16 points while Destiny Stewart scored 11 and was credited with five assists. “We played hard against Mercer but not particularly well,” said Kays. “We may have had a small letdown after E-town but we were focused and had energy.”
Anderson 67, St. Patrick 38
Cann blitzed St. Patrick with eight three-pointers, a school record, as Anderson rolled to the easy win in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Cann led Anderson with 26 points as she eclipsed the long-bombing mark previously held by Tiffany Davenport. Sydney Brown added 20 points for Anderson. “(St. Patrick's) tallest player was 5-foot-7 so we were able to exploit that,” Kays said.
Anderson 69, Monticello 44
Anderson played name the score as the Lady Bearcats rolled to a 42-13 halftime lead and cruised in the tourney opener last Monday.
Cann, Brown all-tourney
Anderson County's Mackenzie Cann and Sydney Brown were both named to the All-Tournament Team by the participating coaches.