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TAYLORSVILLE – In the end, Anderson County’s limitations made sure the Bearcats’ post season would end quickly.
Always a few inches too short, the Bearcats had no answer for Spencer County’s Logan Dunbar, who scored 17 points, including what might have been the biggest two points of last Tuesday’s 30th District semi-final.
Usually struggling to find consistent offense, the Bearcats found themselves in a 13-1 hole after the first quarter, only to warm up in the second. When the Bearcats blistered the nets to open the second half, it scared the bejeebers out of heavily favored Spencer.
But almost as suddenly, the shots stopped falling and Anderson’s season – and 10-year string of making the Eighth Region tournament – ended.
Spencer, which blistered the nets at almost 59 percent, pulled away in the final 12 minutes to score a 60-47 victory. The Bears went on to defeat Collins, 55-49, in Saturday’s final for their first district title since 1984.
“I want to give Spencer County all the credit,” said Anderson coach Glen Drury. “They played their A-game tonight and showed their basketball ability.”
Blessed with one of the best aggregates of basketball talent in school history, Spencer had already forged the best record – 23-6 going into Wednesday’s regional tournament opener – in the Eighth Region.
“They have been pointing for this year,” Drury said. “You can see why.”
But that one scare, a 52-48 decision at Anderson on Jan. 25, gave Anderson fans reason to believe the Bearcats could pull the upset, despite the odds.
It took 3:30 for reality to set in. By the time Drury could try to stop the hemorrhaging, Spencer led 6-0 and appeared ready to score the Bears’ most rousing win since Y2K as Dunbar appeared ready to score at will. At 6-foot-5 and powerfully built, Dunbar stands three inches taller and is significantly thicker than Anderson’s only semblance of an inside presence, Logan Woodside.
“The first quarter is your preparation quarter,” Drury said, referring to the outset being when game preparations are seen the most before the ebb and flow of the game usually alter plans. “We had to play the ‘play-in’ game and did not have as much time as I would like to have had to prepare for this game.”
Anderson had defeated Eminence just 24 hours before. The Bearcats were totally focused on that contest – “I had been very concerned about Eminence,” Drury said.
Armed with only a walk-through and hope Anderson spent 16 minutes trying to find itself, finally doing so in the first four minutes of the second half, when the Bearcats pared a 29-15 halftime deficit to 31-28 in less than four minutes. Darrin Laswell nailed a pair of 3-pointers and Lowell Gordon added another. Woodside converted two steals in to baskets as the Anderson crowd road.
Spencer burned two timeouts, but righted itself by simply going to Dunbar for a simple power move to the basket.
Dunbar showed why some feel his game is the best in the region, just going grabbing the ball on the block and willing the ball to the basket. Anderson was never closer and a 12-2 Spencer run midway through the fourth quarter put any Anderson hope of a miracle – and a regional tourney – to rest. The Spencer margin reached 21 points on two separate occasions.
It was a simple matter of not having enough firepower. When the shots did not fall there was no other answer to Spencer’s 3-2 zone. “Their size and ability allowed them to find our shooters,” Drury noted. “All the credit goes to Spencer County.”
Drury, as intense a competitor as has ever walked the sidelines, was disappointed, but not bitter. “We felt we had a shot and you can’t fault our kids. They gave everything they had.
“I am very proud of them.”