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Hunted or hunter?
For Anderson County basketball, it could be a lot of both in 2009-2010. Hunted, since the Bearcats are the defending Eighth Region champions and return three starters and some players that played key reserve roles.
Hunter since Anderson will not the the obvious favorite – that honor will go to arch-rival Shelby County – and the Bearcats have to fill some major holes, including the ones left by all-stater C.J. Penny and starting guard Landon Jenkins.
“We lost 30 points, 12 rebounds and five or six assists,” says Anderson coach Glen Drury. “We have got a ways to go.”
The Bearcats completed their summer season Wednesday, playing approximately 20 games. “We finished about .500,” Drury said. “I never worry about our summer record. My main focus is on the team getting better.”
The summer season ended last Wednesday, the day before the state-mandated dead period began. The team will be focusing on individual workouts and open gym when the dead period ends on July 9.
Anderson played a summer schedule that was probably even tougher than the regular-season slate, dropping games to, among others, Pleasure Ridge Park, Trinity, Mason County and Franklin County, while defeating Jeffersontown and Western Hills. J-town was without top player Thomas Jackson while Anderson was without the player that some feel will be the Eighth Region’s best next year, Jacob Russell.
“We had Jacob for, I think, three games,” Drury said of his rising senior who is one of Kentucky’s best football and baseball players as well. We never had a practice with everyone there and that is what you have in summer.”
Drury said that not having Penny in the lineup for the first time in four years was obvious. “We are going to be a different team,” he said.
Returning starter Will Ruggles appeared stronger and more assertive. “We are going to need that from Will,” Drury said.
Another returning starter, guard Allen Warford, also continued the uptick he showed in the latter part of the 2009 season. “He had a real good summer,” Drury said. “He is tremendously improved over where he was last year.”
Nick Humphries, often the first man off the Bearcat bench last year was impressive at times, according to Drury, as was Grant Cox, Erik Newton, Taylor Trimble, Tyler Hyatt and sophomores Ethan Kelly and Seth Carmichael.
“We have some good kids coming back and we could have some depth,” Drury said. “We are going to have to get a lot better defensively.”
Drury, who will be heading into his 23rd season at the helm, says his team will be different without Penny but the keys to success will be the same. “We will have to take care of the basketball. We’ll have to rebound and we will have to get good shots. Our shot selection last year was excellent, but it was sporadic this summer.
“We can get better, because we pride ourselves on having a high basketball IQ.”
The Bearcats will be looking to repeat as regional champs, something no Eighth Region team has done since Oldham County’s three-peat from 2001-2003. Anderson basketball has never repeated in the 60-year history of the school and most analysts list Shelby County as a solid early favorite.
But Drury says his team could most definitely play the dual role of hunter and hunted. “They feel they have a legitimate chance (to repeat),” he noted. “One of the things about summer basketball is that you can see what you need to do between now and February. We have some things to work on but we have a chance. We progressed, and that is what we wanted to do.
“We will be different but I really like this team.”
E-mail John Herndon at email@example.com.