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GOSHEN – Grant County might not have known what it was running into Thursday night.
Anderson County, ranked No. 2 in nearly every statewide poll for most of the girls' basketball season, ran off the first 11 points on its way to beating Grant 64-31 in the first round of the Eighth Region Tournament at North Oldham High School.
The Lady Bearcats dominated from the time Eriel McKee scored on a layup just 19 seconds in until the final horn. After building a 29-13 halftime lead, Anderson ended any hope of a Grant comeback with a 15-2 explosion to start the third quarter.
“Our girls, a lot of them don't follow basketball a lot and I think only two or three of them realized the magnitude of what we were going against,” said Grant coach Shawn West.
Anderson's suffocating defensive pressure set the tone early.
“We came out energized,” Anderson coach Tony Kays said. “We hadn't played in a few days and you could just tell the kids were ready to play.”
Anderson, now 30-1, moved on to Monday's regional semifinal game against Oldham County, a 58-37 winner over Gallatin County in Thursday's first game.
Regional Player of the Year Makenzie Cann led Anderson with 24 points while McKee, another all-region performer, scored 14. Cierra Fannin led Grant with six points.
Anderson center Kali Whiteside shut down Grant's Billie Hearn, an all-region performer who has signed with Morehead State. “Kali did a great job filling the lane and making it difficult for them to score inside,” Kays said. “She plays with so much energy. As strong as she is, it makes it hard on the other team.
Hearn scored only four points in her final high school game.
“I felt good coming in,” West said, before breaking into a faint smile. “We had seen them on film against Owen County (a 44-29 Anderson win on Feb. 11), but that must have been one of their uglier games.”
Instead, things quickly turned ugly for Grant, which was missing starting guard Jenna Martin, who was out with a wrist injury.
“We were focusing on valuing the basketball and being strong from a rebounding standpoint,” West sighed. “We had 18 turnovers in the first half. We shouldn't have that for the whole game. (Anderson) had 11 offensive rebounds in the first half.”
Anderson, which has now won 22 straight games, will play Oldham County, a team it defeated 68-41 the second week of the season. Kays says Oldham is a different team now.
“I was impressed with Oldham against Gallatin,” he said. “They have improved so much since we played them. I had seen them once before and I thought then they had improved.”
Oldham held Gallatin's high-scoring duo of Brooke Dossett and her sister, Hannah, to a combined 15 points, 20 below their average.
For much of the game, Oldham had zone with a chaser on Brooke Dossett.
“Gallatin didn't shoot the ball well, but give Oldham County some credit for that,” Kays said. “The Dossetts got frustrated, but Oldham paid special attention to them.”
Tip-off for Monday's semi-final is 7:30 p.m. at North Oldham. Collins and Simon Kenton face off in the first semi-final at 6 p.m.