Lady Bearcats hold off Lady Flyers

By Linda Younkin Published:

LAWRENCEBURG — Two more 3-pointers, one more free throw.

That was the difference between Franklin County and Anderson County’s girls basketball teams Tuesday, and it was enough to give the Lady Bearcats a 45-42 victory at Anderson County High School.

Tuesday’s match-up featured two teams ranked in the top 10 of Dave Cantrall’s Rating the State — Anderson County at No. 3 and FCHS at No. 6.

It was a game that lived up to its billing. The Lady Bearcats’ largest lead was seven points in the final 2 minutes of the game, and FCHS’ biggest advantage was four points.

“It was one hard-fought battle between two good teams,” Anderson coach Tony Kays said.

Both teams had 17 field goals, and while Franklin County shot a better percentage from 3-point range, going 2 for 5, that put the Flyers two behind the Lady Bearcats, who were 4 for 18 from beyond the arc.

Jessica Rice made three of Anderson’s 3-pointers, all in the first half, and two of those shots came back to back midway through the first quarter as ACHS took a 10-4 lead.

“Jessica Rice was huge in the first half with 11 points,” Kays said.

FCHS (19-5) scored the last six points of the first quarter on layups — two by Malaka Frank and one by Dasia Kilbourne — to lead 16-12 going into the second quarter.

The Lady Flyers had back-to-back 3s from Anna Arrastia and Kilbourne to take a 22-18 lead in the second period and led 24-21 at halftime, but fouls were starting to become an issue.

Starter Rebecca Cook was whistled for her third foul with 5:06 left in the second quarter, and starting point guard Nannilena White, FCHS’ only senior, picked up her third and fourth fouls within the first four minutes of the third period. Cook’s fourth foul came with 18 seconds left in the third.

“We were grasping at straws with different combinations because foul trouble killed us all night,” FCHS coach Joey Thacker said. “Through all that we still played very well defensively, but we didn’t play well offensively.

“We came up short on the offensive end. We didn’t make shots down in the paint. We got them playing backwards, which we wanted to do, but we have to learn to score through contact. We’re falling away on layups.”

The Lady Bearcats scored the first nine points of the third quarter to go ahead 30-24. They kept the lead the rest of the game, but they couldn’t quite shake FCHS, which trailed by two, 33-31, at the end of the period.

Anderson (19-4) went with a deliberate offense early in the fourth quarter and was able to burn some time.

“We wanted to rest Makenzie (Cann) a little bit,” Kays said about the strategy. “She’s under the weather, been sick, and her energy level wasn’t close to what it has been.

“We were still going to shoot the ball and run our offense, but we wanted to use a little clock.”

ACHS scored the first basket of the fourth quarter to go ahead 35-31, and the closest the Lady Flyers could get after that was three points.

Anderson’s Eriel McKee scored eight of her 18 points in the last 2:27 of the game. She also finished with 10 rebounds.

Frank and Kilbourne both scored 10 points to lead FCHS. Frank and Princess Stewart both had seven rebounds, and White had three assists.

McKee, who has committed to Morehead State, and Cann, who has committed to Cincinnati, were honored before the game for scoring more than 2,000 points in their careers. McKee is the all-time leading scorer, boy or girl, in school history.

“This game had a post-season type of feeling to it, with two very good teams,” Kays said. “It’ll help us both.”

FCHS plays at home Friday in a doubleheader with the boys team against Madison Central. The Lady Flyers play the second game starting at 8:15 p.m.

FRANKLIN CO. (42) — Nannilena White 8, Malaka Frank 10, Dasia Kilbourne 10, Princess Stewart 7, Anna Arrastia 3, Rebecca Cook 4.

ANDERSON CO. (45) — Destiny Stewart 2, Jessica Rice 11, Makenzie Cann 7, Alex Avritt 4, Eriel McKee 18, Kaci Currens 3.

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