Mountain power gives lesson on reaching summit

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All-state takes over in clutch for Perry Central

By John Herndon

LEXINGTON – Perry Central’s win over Anderson County in the Republic Bank Classic last Wednesday was a lesson in how basketball used to be played and how it is played now all wrapped into one 32-minute lesson.

The Commodores got 35 points from all-state candidate Kendall Noble and 28 from Kayla Rankin to post a 74-58 win at Lexington Catholic High School. Perry Central, a heavy favorite to come out of the 14th Region and widely considered the best team in the eastern Kentucky mountains, used a 12-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to break open a close game.

Perry Central used an old-fashioned pick-and-roll to hurt the Lady Bearcats throughout the game. The Lady Commodores also put a premium on converting mistakes into baskets. Perry Central totaled 35 points off 25 Anderson turnovers.

Anderson had no answer for Noble, whose high-profile transfer from Breathitt County raised many eyebrows in the off-season. It is a once-rare scenario that has become common throughout high school basketball in the last decade.

During the decisive fourth quarter, Noble scored 10 points and had two assists. And in the third quarter, when Anderson had taken a 35-31 lead, Noble scored 10 of Perry Central’s next 15 points and had assists on the Lady Commodores’ other two baskets.

“Their all-stater just took over,” said Anderson coach Tony Kays. In addition to her 35 points, Noble pulled down 10 rebounds and was credited with six assists. She hit 13-of-18 shots from the field and was 7-for-9 at the free throw line.

Still, Anderson seemed to have a chance, trailing 55-51 with 4:32 to play and forcing a Perry Central turnover on the ensuing possession. Kays called timeout, but Anderson botched the inbounds play leading to Rankin driving to the basket.

Kali Whiteside was called for a foul, her fifth and things went downhill from there.

“We had a lack of focus and a lack of communication,” Kays said of the out-of-bounds play. “That was a really big play.”

So was Whiteside’s fifth foul, coming with 4:18 to play. Whiteside had been a major spark, scoring eight points and grabbing seven rebounds in a reserve role. “She gave us a spark off the bench with her rebounding. She made a difference,” Kays said. “This is really just her second year playing and she just keeps getting better.”

But with Whiteside out, Anderson’s inside presence was greatly diminished. Rankin and Noble simply dominated the paint from that point on. The 12-0 run effectively sealed Anderson’s third loss in nine games. Late in the contest, Perry Central’s lead ballooned to 18 points. The Lady Commodores improved to 7-1.

“We played for three quarters,” Kays sighed, “but we really got whipped in the fourth quarter. We have got to play four quarters if we are going to get to the next level. We got a little fatigued.”

Anderson had absorbed a strong punch early as Perry Central scored the first eight points of the game, but Eriel McKee got the Lady Bearcats running with six straight points before Whiteside’s putback pulled the Lady Bearcats within 10-8. By the end of the first quarter, Anderson had cut Perry Central’s lead to 16-14.

McKee led Anderson with 13 points, while Sydney Brown and Mackenzie Cann scored 12 and 10 respectively.

The Lady Bearcats and Lady Commodores fought through a second quarter that saw seven lead changes and a pair of ties, deadlocking at 31 at the break.

But despite a good effort, the Lady Bearcats came up short, a point not lost on Kays.

“We don’t want to be satisfied by playing teams close,” he said. Anderson’s three losses have all come to Top 15 teams and the Lady Bearcats were in position to score a win in all three. “We feel we can compete with anybody, but competing and getting close, we need to get past that.

“It will happen someday and playing teams like this can only make us better.”


Anderson rallies past Newport Catholic

The Lady Bearcats got a rousing win in Tuesday’s tournament action, never leading until the final minute in a 46-43 win over Newport Central Catholic.

The northern Kentucky team jumped out to a 14-2 lead in less than 3:30, but Anderson chipped away and eventually took the lead when Eriel McKee took a pass from Mackenzie Cann for a layup that made it 44-43 with 41 seconds left. Cann sank two free throws with six seconds to play to set the final score.

“They were able to get some easy baskets early but we never did panic,” Kays said. “All along, I felt like we would have a chance to win at the end.”

Newport Catholic still led 21-12 midway through the second quarter but by halftime, Anderson had pulled within 24-20. However, the Lady Bearcats never seemed to be able to get over the hump, pulling within one on four different occasions before McKee finally put them ahead.

Anderson took advantage of getting to the free throw line, hitting 12-of-20 from the charity stripe, while Newport Catholic sank only 3-of-5.

McKee led Anderson with 13 points, while Cann and Sydney Brown scored 11 each. McKee also snared eight rebounds, while Kali Whiteside pulled down seven.

Hannah Thiem paced Newport Catholic with 12 points and Brittany Fryer added 10. Newport Catholic recovered on Wednesday to defeat Lexington Catholic and finish the tournament with a 4-3 record.


Anderson Co. 46, Newport Catholic 43

ANDERSON CO.               10           10           10           16 – 46

NEWPORT CATHOLIC      16           8              7              12 – 43

ACHS – McKee 13, Brown 11, Cann 11, McDowell 9, Whiteside 1, Robinson  1. NCCHS – Thiem 12, Fryer 10, Muench 9, Kieman 8, Buchanan 2, Ciafardini 2. Three-point goals: McDowell, Cann, Thiem 2, Fryer 2. FG: ACHS 16-34 (47.1%), NCCHS 18-53 (34.0%). 3FG: ACHS 2-5 (40.0%), NCCHS 4-15 (26.7%). FT: ACHS 12-20 (60.0%), NCCHS 3-5 (60.0%) Rebounds: ACHS 33 (McKee 8), NCCHS 25 (Kieman 8). Assists: ACHS 9 (Cann 5), NCCHS 13 (Muench 5). Turnovers: ACHS 16, NCCHS 10. Blocked shots: ACHS 4 (McKee 2), NCCHS 3 (Kieman 2). Steals: ACHS 7 (McDowell 3), NCCHS 8 (Kieman 3). Records: Anderson Co. 6-2, Newport Central Catholic 3-3.


Perry Central 74, Anderson Co. 58

PERRY CENTRAL                                16           15           20           23 – 74

ANDERSON CO.                                14           17           13           14 – 58

PCCHS – Noble 35, Rankin 28, Bowen 6, Sebastian 3, Back 2. ACHS – McKee 13, Brown 12, Cann 10, Whiteside 8, Robinson 6, Watson 4, McDowell 3, Stewart 2. Three-point goals: Noble 2, Bowen 2, McKee, Cann, Robinson. FG: PCCHS 28-53 (52.8%), ACHS 20-46 (43.5%). 3FG: PCCHS 4-7 (57.1%), ACHS 3-12 (25.0%). FT: PCCHS 14-22 (63.6%), ACHS 15-23 (65.2%). Rebounds: PCCHS 32 (Noble 10), ACHS 31 (McKee 7, Whiteside 7). Assists: PCCHS 12 (Noble 6), ACHS 12 (Cann 4). Turnovers: PCCHS 22, ACHS 25. Blocked shots: PCCHS 1 (Rankin 1), ACHS 5 (McKee 2). Steals: PCCHS 16 (Back 6), ACHS 12 (McKee 3, Robinson 3. Records: Perry Co. Central 7-1, Anderson Co. 6-3.