Lady Bearcats to face Ballard, Kentucky signee Drake

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By John Herndon

No one can accuse the Anderson County girls’ basketball team of avoiding the competition.

The Lady Bearcats were to open the season at Lafayette Tuesday in a game scheduled after press time then complete a four-game road swing in the next week.

It won’t be easy as the Lady Bearcats are looking at a Louisville-area power and a team that features one of Kentucky’s five best players.

It would be hard to pick a marquee game between the Lady Cats’ trip to Ballard Friday, Dec. 5 or Nelson County Tuesday, Dec. 9.

Ranked among the top teams in the rugged Seventh Region, Ballard returns 10 juniors off last year’s 13-15 team that advanced to the regional semi-finals.

“Other than being quick and athletic, I don’t know much about Ballard,” says Anderson coach Tony Kays.

Despite a so-so record last year, Ballard is ranked anywhere from fifth to seventh in pre-season regional rankings.

Junior guard Larissa Stafford is the Bruins’ leading returning scorer at 10.5 points a game, but guard Nicole Heitz, another junior, could also give the Lady Bearcats major problems.

According to The Courier-Journal, Ballard will not be at full strength until after Christmas when Bryelle Bonds, a transfer from Central joins the team.

Records are sketchy, but it is believed this will be the first meeting in girls’ basketball between the schools.

Tuesday, Anderson will face a much taller task in Nelson County, led by 6-foot-3 Kentucky signee Samantha Drake.

Rated the third best player in the state by both The Courier-Journal and Lexington Herald-Leader polls, Drake averaged 22 points and nine rebounds a game while hitting more than 60 percent of her field goal attempts last year.

Some consider Drake the best player in the state, but the fact that she has never played in the Sweet 16 could hurt her chances for Miss Basketball honors.

Despite a 17-15 record a year ago, Nelson is ranked 19th by the Herald-Leader and 20th by the Courier-Journal in their statewide polls.

Guard Sara Beth Gillis, considered by many the top point guard in the Fifth Region, is a strong complement to Drake.

The schools did not play last year during the regular season, but Anderson’s Eighth Region runner-up team defeated Nelson in a scrimmage.

Kays might have to work to keep his team from overlooking Thursday’s contest at West Jessamine, a team the Lady Bearcats defeated 61-45 last January and one that has never beaten Anderson.

Coach Deron Norman, who at one time coached the Frankfort boys’ team, has a pair of solid guards in Molly Knight and Michelle Sutherland, but West will be battling inexperience if it improves on last year’s 6-21 record.

E-mail John Herndon at jpherndon@theandersonnews.com.