BOWLING GREEN, Ky.
Holding an edge in size, skill and quickness, the Anderson County girls’ basketball team was dominant from start to finish in a 65-23 victory over Shelby Valley on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Houchens Industries Sweet 16.
Junior Eriel McKee had 24 points and 12 rebounds in only 21 minutes — outscoring the entire Shelby Valley team — to lead Anderson County to its 26th consecutive victory and set up a semifinal in E.A. Diddle Arena that figures to be vastly more challenging.
The Lady Bearcats (34-1), No. 2 in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings, advanced to today’s 11 a.m. EDT game against top-ranked, unbeaten Marion County, which was equally dominant in a 71-32 rout of Montgomery County. The winner of that game will play in the 9 p.m. final.
Anderson County, which has three starters 5 feet 10 or taller, had a 41-17 rebounding advantage and held Shelby Valley, with no starters over 5-7, to 21.4 percent shooting.
“We just physically had them outsized, and that was a huge advantage for us, and our quickness and athleticism caused them some problems … offensively and defense,” Anderson County coach Tony Kays said. “I give (Shelby Valley) a lot of credit for what (it) accomplished (in making the quarterfinals), but when we play like we did today, we’ll usually end up on top like we did.”
Anderson County’s other top junior, 6-0 guard Makenzie Cann, had 11 points, 10 assists and six rebounds in 24 minutes. She was one assist shy of tying Scott County’s Ukari Figgs for third-most in a state tournament game (Figgs had 11 twice in 1995). Sophomore reserve Corrin Robinson had 10 points and four rebounds.
Rachel Smith had 11 points, including three 3-point baskets, to lead 15th Region champion Shelby Valley (29-5).
The Lady Bearcats have been ranked in the top five all season, but Shelby Valley coach Rodney Rowe said they’re even better than he thought.
“We haven’t seen that type of length and physicality,” he said. “The girls are extremely athletic, and until you see that and see it often, it makes a big difference. … When you get one shot at it and they get three or four, your odds of winning are not very good.”
Anderson County scored the game’s first 14 points and never looked back. McKee, the program’s career leader in points and rebounds, scored nine in the first 5½ minutes as her team went ahead 19-3. By halftime she had 19 points and eight rebounds, and it was 37-13.
The Lady Bearcats scored the first 11 points of the second half for a 35-point margin, and most of the rest of the game was played with a running clock.
Shelby County (29-5) – Rowe 6, Smith 11, Fraley 4, Wright 2.
Anderson County (34-1) – Whiteside 6, Stewart 2, Cann 11, McKee 24, Hawkins 1, Rice 3, Robinson 10, Harrod 2, Pike 2, Aldridge 2, Currens 2.
3-point goals – Rowe 2, Smith 3; Cann 2, Rice, Robinson 2.