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FRANKFORT – Finally, Anderson County could celebrate.
It wasn't that the Lady Bearcats' 61-50 win over host Franklin County was not expected, nor was it a long time coming. Anderson had beaten Franklin by an average of 37 points in the previous two meetings of the girls' high school basketball series and the Lady Bearcats had never seemed to be in serious trouble Friday night
The Lady Bearcats survived a sluggish first half, took control midway through the third quarter and led 58-40 with just over three minutes to play.
But moments after scoring 22 points to lead Anderson to a historic 27th win in 28 games and a school-record 19th straight, junior guard Makenzie Cann took to Twitter.
“I think I just participated in the longest game of my life,” she tweeted.
Teammate Kaci Currens, a freshman, also aired her feelings on the social media. “Longest night ever,” she tweeted.
It might have seemed that way on a night when Franklin County was combining Senior Night and Homecoming. A game that was advertised to start at 8 p.m. finally got underway at 8:38.
At halftime, the normal 10-minute break was extended to 15 minutes, but then extended again when festivities were not completed. The Lady Bearcats had come out to warm up for the second half only to leave the floor again when some members of the Franklin dance team performed. Halftime lasted at least 23 minutes.
When the final horn sounded, it had been almost two hours since the opening tip, or about 40 minutes longer than u
“We knew about it,” said Anderson coach Tony Kays, who had made sure his team did not arrive so early it would have to sit through an anticipated long program that was to start after the boys' game, which was played first, had ended. “We had gotten a heads up about it from Franklin County. Obviously, we weren't ready for it. Hopefully, we will take and learn from it.”
Anderson led only 27-21 at the half, but had played 12 minutes without standout junior Eriel McKee, who picked up a pair of quick fouls. After Franklin got within 27-23, McKee went to work, scoring eight of her 18 points over the next two minutes. The lead extended to 37-27 and for all practical purposes, the Lady Bearcats were on their way to the win.
“Eriel wanted the ball and we were able to get it to her,” Kays said. Cann, who had riddled Franklin for 15 first-half points, threaded a pair of passes to McKee for layups.
While Anderson was never as much tied – Cann's seven points in the first four minutes did the Flyers in – the Lady Cats were unable to put distance between themselves and the Flyers, a team they had beaten 58-25, back in December.
“We didn't play our best game in the first half,” Kays lamented. “They won a free throw shooting contest in the first half.”
Franklin hit 7-of-13 before the break and 16-of-24 for the game. Anderson was 6-of-8 and 14-of-19.
“Kali Whiteside was the difference,” Kays said. “She got the rebounds, the put backs and she continued that in the second half.”
Whiteside finished with eight points. Other statistics were not available.
“Franklin County has really improved since the first time we played them,” Kays said. “We needed a tough game like this. We knew they would change their defenses up and they did. That caused us some problems. Hopefully we will take that and learn from that.
“Our attack left something to be desired but we came out in the second half and played pretty well. We were not able to stretch it out and finish it.”
Which only made a long night longer.
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