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Lady Mustangs look to have Black Friday in Rupp

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To play Whitley County for state championship

By John Herndon

Black Friday could have a whole new meaning in Lexington on Friday.

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At least, the Anderson County Middle School girls' eighth-grade basketball team plans on making it a different kind blackout of Rupp Arena for the championship game of the middle school state tournament. The Lady Mustangs will be taking on Whitley County for the big prize.

The tourney is run by the Kentucky Basketball Academy in Lexington. All rounds thorugh the semifinals were played on Nov. 14-15 at the academy with the final being part of an all-day event featuring high school teams from around the state in the KBA Preseason  Showcase.

Tip-off time for the championship game is at 3 p.m.

Anderson will be going for its 65th straight win and its second win over Whitley County this year. The Lady Mustangs defeated Whitley 36-29 in the finals of the Mt. Washington tournament early in the season.

That score is telling as Anderson has been beating opponents by better than 25 points a game all year.  The first three games in the state saw the Lady Mustangs win by an average of 21 points, which was a bit deceiving as Anderson called the dogs off in several games.

“They are very well-coached, and pose several problems for us,” says Anderson coach Clay Birdwhistell, who noted that Whitley has a 6-foot center and a crafy point guard.

In the first meeting, Anderson's Eriel McKee was on the bench for much of the first half in foul trouble.

“She can do a lot of things, but being an assistant coach isn't one of them. We need her on the floor,” Birdwhistell quipped.

While the crowd won't be anything remotely like the 21,000 that showed up for the Anderson County High School boys in the Sweet 16, it will still be a different atmosphere than any of the Lady Mustangs have experienced. Birdwhistell did say that the Lady Mustangs have played on a college floor, 10 feet longer than a high school court, during summer camp. He says that should not be much of a factor and the result of the first game will mean little.

“Honestly, I think you can throw out that first game,” Birdwhistell said.

“I think the key is to make them play our game. We want to control the defensive glass, and get out and run. Offensively, in the half court we need to show patience. Last time, we settled for bad shots.

“It's a very exciting time for our program. We hope to see a huge Anderson County crowd on Friday. Our theme coming into the season was Back in Black, due to our new black road jerseys. How fitting would it be to win a state championship on Black Friday?”

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

KBA Preseason Showcase

Friday, Nov. 27 at Rupp Arena

Clays Mill Baptist vs. Trinity Christian, 8:45 a.m.

Bluegrass United vs. Bracken County, 10 a.m.

Buckhorn vs. Carroll County, 11:15 a.m.

Barbourville vs. Pendleton County, 12:30 p.m.

Marion County vs. Lincoln County girls,  1:45 p.m.

Kentucky Girls Middle School State Final. 3 p.m.

    Anderson Co. vs. Whitley Co.

Whitley County vs. East Jessamine, 4:15 p.m.

Lexington Christian vs. South Laurel, 5:30 p.m.

Larue County vs. Southwestern, 6:45 p.m.

Oldham County vs. Henderson County, 8 p.m.

Clay County vs. McCreary Central, 9:15 p.m.