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HODGENVILLE – On a day when the big-time talent was on display, it was some unheralded reserves who shone the brightest.
Sophomore Kaci Currens came off the bench to score 16 points while junior Corrin Robinson added 11 to boost top-ranked Anderson County to a 69-51 win over host LaRue County in the Corky Cox Classic at LaRue County High School on Saturday.
Neither player is much-heralded outside the Eighth Region but Anderson coach Tony Kays says Robinson and Currens are two reasons it is a mistake to think of Anderson as all-state candidates Makenzie Cann and Eriel McKee pulling a group of second- or third-tier players.
“Corrin and Kaci were outstanding today,” Kays said. “Kaci had a great game and Corrin came in and played really well. We have talked a lot about that all pre-season and this summer. We are more than just two players.”
Anderson is ranked No. 1 in virtually every pre-season poll, while LaRue is included in most Top 10 lists and has been ranked as high as No. 5 statewide.
Anderson claims a pair of Top 5 players, Makenzie Cann, ranked No. 1 in The Courier-Journal pre-season poll, and Eriel McKee. Cann has signed with the University of Cincinnati while McKee will be headed to Morehead State.
LaRue also boasts some big names in Ivy Brown, a Western Kentucky signee who was ranked as the state's top player in The Lexington Herald-Leader survey of coaches, and Alexis Brewer, one of the state's top juniors.
The teams could meet again in the Louisville Invitational Tournament in late January. Anderson is a solid favorite to return to the state tournament while LaRue is expected to battle it out with Elizabethtown for Fifth Region supremacy.
Saturday, Anderson's depth was the key for the Lady Bearcats. Currens, who has started sporadically over the last three years, was forced into service when Cann picked up her second foul less than three minutes into the game. Cann eventually saw less than 10 minutes of action.
“We have worked on that,” Kays said. “Over the course of the season, Kenzie or Eriel getting in foul trouble is going to happen. It happened tonight and will happen again.”
“It feels good to know if we get in foul trouble, we are not going to miss a beat,” said Cann, who finished with 13 points. “We are just going to keep on going.”
Down 5-4 when Cann went to the bench, LaRue scored six straight points before Cann returned to action.
Currens, who hit 5-of-6 three-point attempts, tied things at 10 before Brewer answered with her own long ball 18 seconds later. McKee answered with a three before Robinson buried a home run to give Anderson the lead for good with 1:08 to go in the first quarter.
“We have talked about how there would be games where we would have foul trouble and someone else would have to come off the bench and step up,” Currens said.
The smaller Lady Bearcats used their quickness to spread the floor and drive past the Lady Hawks.
“We were in serious foul trouble from the get-go,” said Kays, who was also tagged with a technical foul late in the third quarter. “Does (getting in foul trouble) change our game plan? Not really that much. We ran the same offensive sets. We ran the same defense. It is a matter of matching the right people up and matching the right personnel.
“That is a difference in our team this year. We are smaller without Kali (Whiteside, now at Asbury University) so when we go against bigs, it causes us some matchup problems. But we can spread people out and have some kids that can drive and shoot. We cause other teams some matchup problems too.”
Anderson extended the lead to as many as 10 points in the second quarter, even with Cann (three fouls) and McKee (rest) both on the bench for the final three minutes.
LaRue stayed within striking distance, down 44-37 midway through the third frame but Anderson delivered the knockout blow with a 12-0 run lasting into the final frame.
McKee led Anderson, now 3-0, with 20 points and nine rebounds while Brewer paced LaRue (2-1) with 24 points. Brown added 15.
“Brewer is very athletic and really a nice player,” Anderson coach Tony Kays said. “When she gets into the lane and spins, it is hard to stop her.
“Brown is a great player but I thought we did a good job of ball pressure. We never changed what we were going to do. We just got a little better on it,” Kays said. “Some people stepped up to the challenge and wanted to guard Brown.
Cann started out defending Brown, but through the game, McKee, Currens and Alex Avritt all had significant time guarding the 6-foot-2 Brown.
“She is a great player and we all did the best we could do on her,” Currens said.
But Saturday, Anderson County had more team.
“Oh yeah,” Cann said. “We definitely have more than two players.”
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