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Regional power visits Anderson Friday night

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Walton-Verona features Eighth’s top player, Xavier signee; Bearcats return to court Saturday in Bardstown

By John Herndon

If one is looking for a problem area for the Anderson County boys’ basketball team, he only has to look at Bearcats’ physical stature. Specifically, he would look at the height.

Anderson has no varsity player listed over 6-foot-3.

That smallish roster will get a tall test -- pun intended -- Friday when Walton-Verona pays a visit to Lawrenceburg.

Walton-Verona, ranked as one of the favorites in the Eighth Region, boast the region’s top player in 6-10 Dieonte Miles, an athletic shot blocker who changes the game by his very presence.

A year ago, Miles missed most of the season with a shoulder injury but Walton-Verona won its second consecutive district title, something the Bearcats had not done since 1942. Walton-Verona also advanced to the championship game of the state All-A Classic and won the consolation bracket of the King of the Bluegrass tournament.

Anderson also participated in last year’s King of the Bluegrass, losing all three games.

Walton-Verona earned all those accomplishments with Miles in street clothes. He’s back and the Bearcats are expected to fight it out with Collins for the Eighth Region crown. Walton-Verona defeated Dixie Heights and Xenia, Ohio in the first week of the season.

“They are really good,” Anderson coach Bryan Hyatt says. “Miles is the real deal. He’s signed with Xavier. You don’t go to Xavier unless you are the real deal.”

Walton must figure out a way to replace point guard Brennon Stanley and forward Zach Clinkenbeard, a heady all-around player. Senior Kam Pardee averaged 10 points and seven rebounds a game last year and elevated his game when the stakes were highest.

Walton-Verona has another luxury in 6-9 senior Ethan Brook, who showed improvement in the off-season. Hyatt said that in the early going, Walton-Verona had not been playing both towers together, but it is a possibility.

A year ago, Walton-Verona spanked Anderson, 77-57, in the early-season contest. Anderson was just beginning to deal with the injuries that hit all season.

“They are really good, but we are not going to do anything differently,” Hyatt says. “We aren’t going to back down. I expect a high level game. We know they are good but we won’t back down.”

Saturday afternoon, the Bearcats return to action against Bethlehem at Bardstown High School. The Eagles lost their first three games of the season by one-sided margins, but Hyatt says Bethlehem is “a quality club.”

Hyatt says the Eagles run a three guard offense. “It will be a challenge for us to play a high level game one night and then have to do the same thing the next day.”

Tuesday, the Bearcats travel to Rockcastle County, which had played only one game at press time.

The Rockets lost, 59-48, to Lincoln County, which is expected to contend for the 12th Region title.

First-year coach Aaron Cash led Rockcastle to the Sweet 16 as a player.