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BOWLING GREEN – Anderson County knows what it is up against Friday night.
The Lady Bearcats, ranked No. 2 or No. 3 in the state, depending on the rating system, have the task of trying to take down No. 1 Elizabethtown in the quarterfinals of the Sweet 16.
Tipoff between the teams ranked 1-2 most of the season is set for 9 p.m. at E.A. Diddle Arena on the campus of Western Kentucky University.
Anderson cruised to a 75-51 win over Third Region champ Meade County Thursday night while E-town captued a 75-61 win over Seventh Region titlist Sacred Heart.
E-town beat Anderson, 51-42, in the championship game of the Republic Bank Classice at Lexington Catholic on Dec. 23.
“They are an excellent ball club,” Anderson coach Tony Kays said. “The game tonight looked like they have improved. We know it will take a monumental effort and our A-game.”
Elizabethtown jumped out to a quick lead, then turned back a furious Sacred Heart rally before pulling away in the final six minutes for the win.
6-foot-3 center Reauna Cleaver led E-town with 20 points while Gatorade Player of the Year Erin Boley, a sophomore, scored 19 and snared 11 rebounds for E-town.
The Lady Panthers hit their first seven shots as they opened a 15-8 lead on Sacred Heart. The Panthers eventually "cooled off" to 56.3 percent for the game.
The margin grew to 37-24 at the half, but Sacred Heart put on a furious rally, pulling within three points on two occasions late in the third quarter, but could get no closer.
Sacred Heat got within 46-43, then had the ball after a Cleaver miss, but turned the ball over.
E-town outpointed Sacred Heart 24-16 in the final frame to pull away.
When Anderson and E-town tangled before, it was a back-and-forth game for 27 minutes. Tied with five minutes to play, Anderson suddenly went cold and E-town pulled away for the win.
Friday's game figures to be another close one and is a game that some feel will determine the eventual state champion.
Neither coach is ready to go that far, noting that several teams left have the firepower needed to win the big trophy Sunday afternoon.
Anderson figures to have to find a way to slow Cleaver and Boley (6-1) as both are bigger than anyone Anderson has on the roster. At the same time, E-town might not have anyone with the speed and quickess of Anderson's Eriel McKee.
For Anderson to win, the Lady Bearcats must be on target from the 3-point arc as well.
Both teams have improved and are different from the ones that met in December. E-town comes in at 29-4 and has won 15 straight. The Panthers are 27-2 against Kentucky competition.
Anderson is now 28-4 and has won 13 straight. The Lady Bearcats are 28-2 against in-state teams.
Something will have to give tonight.
“It is a quick turnaround but it is a good challenge,” Kays said. “We will be here and we will give it the best shot and we will see what happens.
“I believe in these kids and they believe in themselvs.”
Tickets available online
Tickets for tonight's game are available online at www.wkusports.net and at the Diddle Arena box office.
Live streaming available