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It had the makings of a difficult Senior Night.
Anderson County, ranked No. 2 in most of the statewide girls' basketball polls last week, was coming off a tough game the night before, was looking at a long-time rival who had been playing well and had to sort through the emotions that go along with the final game on the home court.
And it didn't look like it was going to get any better when one of those seniors dropped a vase, sending the remnants across one end of the floor at Anderson County High School.
Instead, that was about the only thing that went wrong for the Lady Bearcats in a 64-36 thrashing of Woodford County Friday night. And, just as the script called for, there was a big senior moment in store.
Libby Pike, who dropped the vase then broke out in embarassed laughter, got the first start of her career, scoring eight points, including a game-ending put back that prompted the Anderson student section to erupt.
“I found out right before the game,” said Pike, normally a backup center who has been playing in the Anderson program since middle school. “I was a bit nervous. It was a big crowd and we normally don't have big crowds like that.”
Pike hit two free throws early to erase Woodford's only lead (5-3) of the night, then after Makenzie Cann drilled a 3-pointer, Pike drew a charge on Woodford's Chelsey Ford that set up another long-range bomb from Alex Avritt.
The rout was on as the Lady Bearcats recorded their 17th straight win and moved to 25-1 on the season.
“Libby is just a great kid all-around,” said Anderson coach Tony Kays. “The student body loves her and a lot of students came out tonight to support her and Kali (Whiteside). Libby is great in the locker roomand she just does everything right. She stays positive. She doesn't play a lot of minutes, but she is valuable because she can come in and play defense and get rebounds. She is capable of putting the ball in the basket.”
Which is what the entire Lady Bearcat team was adept at doing Friday night. The Lady Bearcats hit 22-of-48 shots (45.8 percent), including seven bombs from 3-point land. “We shot the ball well tonight, but we were taking good shots,” Kays said.
After Avritt's 3-pointer, Cann scored on a put-back midway and Woodford was never within seven the rest of the way. Cann led Anderson with 26 points, hitting five 3-pointers, one of which was from beyond NBA range. Eriel McKee followed with 13 points.
The final basket marked Anderson's longest lead of the night and it was Pike, who had been serenaded by “We Want Libby” chants from the student section, picking it up too. “I was actually just trying to draw a foul, then it went in,” Pike smiled.
Whiteside, Anderson's other senior, had become a full-time starter as a senior and is widely recognized as one of the top defensive centers around. Whiteside scored five points and pulled in six rebounds but her true on-the-court value could be seen when Woodford drivers often pulled up and passed to a teammate.
“Kali is just so physically strong,” Kays noted. “Her defense was good. Her rebounding. She was active out there tonight. … When she is active and getting those rebounds, she is a new dimension for our team.”
Friday, Anderson was clicking in every dimension against a Woodford team that had won three of its last four, including a victory over a very good Lafayette team. The Yellow Jackets had also routed Scott County by 42 points just three weeks before, but stood at just 15-13 after Friday's game.
Anderson led 18-8 after eight minutes and 37-18 at the half.
In other words, there were no worries on Senior Night.
“You are always a little bit worried coming off a tough road game like we had last night (at Christian Academy of Louisville),” Kays said. “Christian Academy extended us emotionally and physically. I was real anxious to see how the kids would come out with the energy level and all that, but the kids answered the bell. They came out and were ready to go.”
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