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There will be no opening taps, 3-pointers, slam dunks or nutty fan sections, but Sunday might just be the biggest day of the year in high school basketball.
At least for Anderson County, both the Bearcats and Lady Bearcats, the most important moment of their quests for a state tournament berth will be when coaches Glen Drury and Tony Kays, or someone else in the Anderson contingent selects the pill that will determine where the teams will be bracketed in the Eighth Region tournament.
Both should have advanced to the regional tournament by the time you read this. Both Anderson teams earned the top seed in the 30th District and were to have played Eminence Tuesday night on the Anderson court. Both teams were favored by more than 50 points.
An astute observer would be quick to point out that a team cannot overlook the district final Friday night. Shelby County, which should have little trouble with Spencer County on Wednesday night, is more than capable of being the first Eighth Region team to beat Anderson’s boys this year.
On the girls’ side the winner of the Shelby vs. Spencer game, which could be a nail-biter, is also capable of knocking off the Anderson girls.
Some would say that the district championship is a meaningless game, since every year, there are two or three teams that make it to the Sweet 16 after losing in the district final. It happens, just as it did the last time Anderson made it. The Bearcats lost to Shelby in the district but rolled through the regional tournament in 1997.
But calling Friday’s game meaninglless is stupid.
More than anything, what happened 12 years ago shows that Sunday luck can have a huge impact on the rest of the week. That year, Anderson got the mother of all great draws with all of its top threats in the opposite bracket, beating up on each other, while Anderson cruised to the final, where it beat Oldham County.
Things like that do happen. But not often.
Friday’s game is a huge pride factor. A winner has a trophy and nets to show for it. But most of all, it is a game of jockeying for a good draw. In a year when the Eighth Region is generally considered down, winning Friday night and getting another district’s runner-up, is huge. Lose and a team might have North Oldham (boys) or Simon Kenton (top girls team) saying hello in the first round.
The district championship is not just for pride, but should be huge when Sunday rolls around.
The Anderson boys are looking at the program’s best chance to make the Sweet 16 since that 1997 team. It says here that if the high schools chose a champ like the NBA, in best-of-seven series the Bearcats would win the Eighth Region handily.
But it’s a one-and-done proposition. Even the best pro teams lose a playoff game or two.
In short, a team has to be ready to play every night, starting Sunday, or it goes home wondering what might have been.
The Anderson girls have a shot, but a win over Simon Kenton would be a significant upset.
The boys, however have earned their place as the team to beat. They play well together and have a talented crew.
Yet they are the hunted team. Starting next week, every team would like nothing better than making sure the Bearcats’ trip to the Sweet 16 is that of spectator, not participant.
And Sunday will tell who will get that chance.
E-mail John Herndon at firstname.lastname@example.org.