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There is a reason Anderson County is ranked No. 2 in nearly every statewide poll of girls' high school basketball. The Lady Bearcats showed why in a 66-33 rout of visiting Shelby County Monday night.
“I don't think it would have made any difference who we played tonight,” Anderson coach Tony Kays said. “Our girls were ready to play.”
Anderson had already put a 69-36 beating on the Lady Rockets three weeks ago and had already clinched the top seed in the 30th District Tournament, but that did not matter. To the Lady Bearcats, it was simply the next game on the schedule, one that turned into their 15th straight win.
Anderson is now 23-1 on the year while Shelby fell to 13-12..
“They played their game tonight,” said Shelby assistant coach Kevin Radford, who was running the team in the absence of head coach Mike Sowers, who is in the process of adopting a child.
“No one likes to get a tail-whipping like we got tonight,” Radford continued, “but you can learn from a game like this. In the second half we were able to get some execution on the offensive end.”
The trouble for Shelby was that by that time, the Lady Rockets were already hopelessly out of it. Anderson, which used 10 players in the first half alone, built a 45-13 lead at intermission, then exploded for the first 11 points of the second half to invoke the new running-clock rule after the lead reaches 35 points.
Eriel McKee led Anderson with 22 points, many coming off steals in the open court, while Makenzie Cann added 18. At the half, they had 16 and 14 points respectively.
“Makenzie Cann had a great all-around game,” Kays said. “She was 5-for-5 from the field in the first half and she was making great decisions on both the offensive and defensive end. Fittingly, Cann threaded a pass to McKee, then drove for another baske to start the second half and put the Anderson lead over the “mercy-rule” threshold.
Cann also finished with seven assists.
While Anderson was building a lead that maxed out at 43 points, the Lady Bearcats' pressure forced Shelby into numerous turnovers that McKee or Cann usually converted into layups. “The thing about Anderson County is their length,” Radford said. “You just don't see that kind of length until the state tournament.”
Makenzie Raizor led Shelby with 15 points, but the Lady Rockets turned the ball over 18 times, accoring to Anderson statistics.
Anderson never trailed and exploded on a 13-0 run to build a 15-2 lead less than six minutes into the contest. By the end of the first quarter, Anderson led 19-6 and Shelby was never closer.
“We moved the ball well and took good shots,” said Kays, who saw five different Lady Bearcats hit 3-point shots. “We made the extra pass and were focused on defense.”
Just like one of the best teams in the state is supposed to do.
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