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SWEET 16 ONLINE EXTRA: Shelby Valley presents balanced attack, strong guard play

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By John Herndon

After outlasting the best team from western Kentucky in their Sweet 16 opener, Anderson County's Lady Bearcats turn their attention to the pride of eastern Kentucky, Shelby Valley, in Friday's quarterfinal action.

Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m., Eastern time, at Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.

Shelby Valley, the 15th Region champion, never trailed as the Wildcats defeated Corbin, 45-38, in the final first round game at the Girls' Sweet 16 in Bowling Green Wednesday night. Freshman guard Lakyn Mullins led Shelby Valley with 15 points.

Anderson will be a much bigger team than Shelby Valley as the Wildcats have only two players –little used 5-foot-9 centers Abigail Smallwood and Kayla Blackburn – standing over 5-7. But Shelby Valley did demonstrate heady basketball and strong guard play in the win over Corbin.

“Shelby Valley gets a lot of movement and out of their flex offense,” Anderson coach Tony Kays said. “They also have pretty good quickness overall. We need to defend well in half court and and win the rebound battle.

“Offensively, just continue to get movement and make the extra pass against their 2-3 zone and man-to-man defenses.”

Like Henderson, it might be difficult to get a feel for the comparative strengths of the teams as Shelby Valley and Anderson do not have a single common opponent. However, the Wildcats do own a win over Bullitt East, a long-time power in the area.

Shelby Valley comes into the game with a 29-4 record and a seven-game winning streak. The Wildcats have four players averaging in double figures, led by Taylor Rowe's 11.8 points a game.

However, almost immediately after Anderson's win over Henderson County Wednesday, some started talking about a possible showdown with top-ranked Marion County in the semi-finals. Marion plays Montgomery County in the first quarterfinal game

Marion and Anderson will be strong favorites to advance.

Kays hopes his team learned a lesson in December when it suffered its only loss. Bryan Station upset the Lady Bearcats, who admitted to be looking ahead to Marion in the Republic Bank Classic at Lexington Catholic.

“We will be totally focused on Shelby Valley,” Kays said. “They are not here by accident. They have a nice team and are super competitive.”

 

**Kays was glad to see a large throng of Anderson fans in the stands Wednesday night. “Our crowd was great. We appreciate them so much,” he said.

 

**The Lady Bearcats arrived in Bowling Green Tuesday evening and have been working out at a church gym while in town.

 

**Anderson County Schools Superintendent Sheila Mitchell has announced that classes will be dismissed on Friday so students and fans can attend the Sweet 16 in Bowling Green.