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LEXINGTON – 'Twas the Saturday before Christmas and all over the floor, Anderson County's Lady Bearcats made another opponent quite sore.
This time, it was a 69-44 pounding of 12th Region favorite Southwestern, a team that like Anderson, came into the second-round game of the Republic Bank Classic with a 7-1 record.
But just four days before Christmas, the Lady Bearcats put together a performance that seemed more in tune with overzealous shoppers the nearby stores and malls than one for the old gym at Lexington Catholic High School.
The Lady Bearcats literally took things out of Southwestern's hands at times, forcing 26 turnovers – while Anderson committed only 12 – and slapped the ball away so many times that Southwestern's attack had about as much cohesion and flow as a mall parking lot in December.
Even with Anderson trailing as the result of a subpar shooting effort, the Lady Bearcats stayed close early. Anderson's Eriel McKee gave a sign of things go come when, from behind, she swiped the Southwestern ball-handler in the backcourt. The Lady Warrior, who shall remain unnamed in this story, appeared to not even realize what had happened until McKee was on her way to the basket.
McKee finished with 15 points while classmate Makenzie Cann scored 26.
Cann had carried the offensive burden in the first half, scoring 18 points before the break.
“Makenzie is a team player and wants to get everybody involved, but she is also the kind of player that recognizes when we are struggling a bit and it is up to her to step up.
It was that kind of night for Anderson County.
While not enjoying a typical good shooting night – Anderson connected on only 34.6 percent of its shots – the Lady Bearcats utilized a frantic pace and a deep bench to crush any upset thoughts Southwestern might have had.
And after being pushed around by Columbus (Ind.) North a week earlier, Anderson was unquestionably the aggressor Saturday. “We talked about it a lot in practice,” senior forward Alex Avritt said. “We wanted to make sure we are physical.”
Kays continued, “We are getting close to being able to play 10 deep and every night we have two or three kids that can step in and produce.”
By midway through the second quarter, Southwestern seemed to be gassed. In the third and fourth quarter, Anderson built on a 36-27 halftime lead by getting to nearly every loose ball and pounding the offensive glass.
“We felt like, with our conditioning and our bench, we could wear them down by the second half,” Kays said.
For the game, Anderson looked like a savvy shopper, pulling in 25 offensive rebounds and scored 21 points on bargain baskets. Avritt led Anderson with seven offensive boards.
“We have somebody different that can step up every night,” Avritt said.
“Alex did the things she is capable of doing and the things we want her to do,” Kays said. “That is play solid defense, get us rebounds, be strong inside. She did all of that tonight.”
Southwestern actually shot well, hitting 47 percent from the field, but the Warriors only got off 36 shots, hitting 17. Anderson fired up an astounding 78 shots for the night.
Ironically, the Anderson's signature onslaught started with the most basic of defensive plays. With the score tied at 27, Kaci Currens drew a charge on Southwestern's Dylana Fothergill near the Southwestern goal with 2:31 left in the first half.
“You draw a charge like that and it can be a big change in momentum,” Kays said. “It can get the defense fired up and that is what happened there.”
The Lady Bearcats scored the next nine points, then held their foot on Southwestern's neck the rest of the way.
By the end of the third quarter, Anderson was in complete control with a 50-34 lead. The final score was Anderson's longest lead of the game.
Adison Corder, picked as the top player in Region 12 by The Cats Pause, led Southwestern with 16 points.
Rest of tournament
Anderson was to have played Owensboro Catholic Sunday afternoon and could have played as many as two games on Monday. Due to early holiday deadlines, those games were played too late to be included in this edition of The Anderson News.
Full stories of those games will appear online at www.theandersonnews.com on Dec. 26 and will also appear in the Jan. 1 edition of The Anderson News.
Lady Bearcats to get a break
Kays said the Lady Bearcats will take a break during the holidays, getting five days off before returning to practice next week. Anderson does not have another game scheduled until Saturday, Jan. 4, when the Lady Bearcats travel to Spencer County for a 30th District matchup.
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