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Only the cast had changed.
Well, actually, the final margin was also much different than a year ago, but Anderson County used almost the same formula – hit them early and dominate the open court – to defeat visiting Ballard, 60-52, in girls’ gasketball action Saturday afternoon.
A year ago, it was Lindsay Fultz, now at Georgetown College, who lit up the Lady Bruins for 34 points in a 73-48 shellacking. Saturday, it might have been Kara Yeaste’s coming out party. The senior tallied 18 points and had five assists in what might have been her finest all-around game as a Lady Bearcat.
In the second half, Yeaste dominated the open court against a seasoned and athletic team. “I thought Kara had a nice ball game,” Anderson coach Tony Kays said.
Meanwhile, Sydney Brown turned in her finest all-around game as a Lady Bearcat, powering her way to 17 points and eight rebounds.
A team that is officially in a rebuilding mode, Anderson never trailed a club that is expected to make some rumbles in the Seventh Region race. “We came out and hit them early,” said Kays. “That was a good sign.”
Anderson led 13-4 slightly more than midway through the first quarter and held a 13-9 cushion at the first break. Ballard never got closer the rest of the way.
Part of the Bruins’ troubles could be traced to the absence of leading scorer Nicole Heitz. Averaging 20 points per game in the first week of the season, Heitz sat out the contest after turning an ankle in a game against Ryle the night before.
Ballard eventually got some production from Larissa Stafford, who scored 19 points, but obviously was missing Heitz, who is considered to be one of the top players in the Seventh Region.
“That disrupted some things,” said Ballard coach Steve Kaufman, who saw his team drop to 2-2. “We cut it to four or five then missed a layup and had a turnover.”
Anderson, however, was also struggling to take advantage of Ballard miscues but did eas out to a 27-16 lead a the half when Brown found eighth-grader Destiny Stewart open for a jump shot, then Yeaste converted a steal into a layup with 9.6 seconds before halftime.
“Our defense is getting better,” Kays said. “We want to create some turnovers and we are getting better. We are still learning though. We switched up some and that gave them some problems.”
The Lady Bearcats might have caught a break late in the half when Brown picked up her third foul with 2:21 to play and Anderson up 20-14. Kays took his 6-foot-1 sophomore out, but kept her on the bench for 10 seconds.
“We have to have her in there,” he explained.
Before the half was out, Anderson held its breath when Brown drove into the middle of the court and Ballard drew contact. But nothing was called Brown finished the game.
Ballard got within six on two occasions in the third quarter but a pair of open court baskets from Yeaste, including a three-point play, pushed the cushion to 46-34, too much for the Bruins to make up.
“I think you have to credit Ballard,” Kays said. “We got up on them early but they never quit.
“They were a team similar to Lafayette, very athletic, and could have caused us problems. Our experienced players did well for us today.”
Kaufman, however, was also liberal in his praise for the Lady Bearcats. “They do a real good job playing together. Tony is a good coach and they have a nice team.”
Email John Herndon at firstname.lastname@example.org.