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GOSHEN – Grant County might not have known what it was running into Feb. 28.
Anderson County, ranked No. 2 in nearly every statewide poll for most of the girls’ basketball season, ran off the first 11 points on its way to beating Grant 64-31 in the first round of the Eighth Region Tournament at North Oldham High School.
Grant County coach Shawn West said the Lady Braves prepared to face Anderson County by going over scouting reports and during practice simulated what Anderson might do in the game.
The Lady Bearcats dominated from Eriel McKee’s layup just 19 seconds into the contest until the final horn. After building a 29-13 halftime lead, Anderson ended any hope of a Grant comeback with a 15-2 explosion to start the third quarter.
“Our girls, a lot of them don’t follow basketball a lot and I think only two or three of them realized the magnitude of what we were going against,” said West.
Anderson’s suffocating defensive pressure set the tone early.
West said he did see some bright spots from the Lady Braves.
“We had a few moments of where we played well defensively and made a few plays offensively,” West said. “I think we just played nervous and tight.”
“We came out energized,” Anderson coach Tony Kays said. “We hadn’t played in a few days and you could just tell the kids were ready to play.”
Regional Player of the Year Makenzie Cann led Anderson with 24 points while McKee, another all-region performer, scored 14. Cierra Fannin led Grant with six points.
Anderson center Kali Whiteside shut down Grant’s Billie Hearn, an all-region performer who has signed with Morehead State. Hearn scored only four points in her final high school game.
“I felt good coming in,” West said, before breaking into a faint smile. “We had seen them on film against Owen County (a 44-29 Anderson win on Feb. 11), but that must have been one of their uglier games.”
Instead, things quickly turned ugly for Grant, which was missing starting guard Jenna Martin, who was out with a wrist injury.
“Jenna has been a huge part of our success throughout the year, so being without her at this time frame was pretty big,” West said.
Turnovers and rebounds may have been the Lady Braves undoing.
“We were focusing on valuing the basketball and being strong from a rebounding standpoint,” West sighed. “We had 18 turnovers in the first half. We shouldn’t have that for the whole game. (Anderson) had 11 offensive rebounds in the first half.”
West said the team will take some time off and then get back in the gym to prepare for next year.
(John Herndon is a sports writer for the Anderson News, which is also owned by Landmark Communications, the parent company of the Grant County News.)