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Forget that the old Anderson County-Shelby County rivalry was supposed to have died. Forget the fact that Collins High took most of Shelby's athletes when the new school opened in August.
None of that will matter when Shelby visits Anderson tonight, Wednesday, Feb. 2. There won't be a Sweet 16 berth on the line. It won't even decide the top dog in the 30th District, like the old rivalry did.
But tonight is simply the most important basketball game of the season for the Anderson County boys’ basketball team.
It will be the second game of a girl-boy double-header that is set to tip off at 6 p.m.
No one could have imagined such a scenario when the teams were originally scheduled to play on Dec. 17. At that time, Shelby was reeling from its split into two schools and had routinely been on the wrong end of one-sided scores. In the season opener against Dunbar, the Rockets committed a whopping 41 turnovers.
But over time, new coach Rick Parsons has settled on a rotation of seven or eight players, has employed a more disciplined style of play and the Rockets are vastly improved despite their 2-18 record, according to Anderson coach Glen Drury.
Last week, Shelby got its second win by slipping past Henry County in overtime.
“This is a game they think they can win,” Drury said last week. “It is no surprise that they beat Henry County. They much improved over where they were in December.”
The loser will most likely play Eminence in a first-round game at the 30th District Tournament later this month, while the winner will get a bye into the semifinal round, most likely to play Collins. Shelby was to have played Eminence in a district game on Tuesday night that would have some bearing on the possible outcomes.
For a summary of the Shelby game and a look at the district tournament picture, see www.theandersonnews.com after the game is completed.
Friday, Anderson will travel to longtime rival Woodford County, which has been making some noise around central Kentucky under new coach Scott Hundley. Hundley is a former Mr. Basketball from Scott County and had a solid collegiate career at Vanderbilt.
The Yellow Jackets, 12-6 after last weekend’s games, feature one of the area’s top big men in 6-foot-7 Jay Johnson. He also has a nice supporting cast.
Saturday, the Bearcats host McCreary Central, a team they have already played in the McCreary tournament just before Christmas. It will also be the start of a four-game homestand.
McCreary, 11-9, is a team making some noise in the 12th Region. The Raiders won the one, 41-36. “They have one of the best players we have seen in (Jacob) Dixon,” Drury said.
Tuesday, Feb. 8, Anderson hosts Henry County (10-11) in a game that Drury says could be a dangerous foe. “Henry has a nice team,” Drury says. “They beat Gallatin County.”
In that game, played last Thursday, Henry stayed unbeaten in District 31 play. It looked even better two nights later when Gallatin ripped Oldham County, the team that most observers have labeled as a slight favorite to take the Eighth Region championship.