BOWLING GREEN — Anderson County came out letting the ball fly, often enough that a three-for-all broke out Wednesday in the Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls' Sweet Sixteen.
The Lady Bearcats hit seven of their first nine three-pointers in Western Kentucky University's Diddle Arena, then held on for a 65-54 victory as Henderson County made seven threes of its own.
"It turned out to be the battle we thought it would be," Anderson Coach Tony Kays said. "We shot the ball extremely well the first half — a little bit of fool's gold. We knew that they would make a run and, as any well-coached team does, they have a lot of pride and were able to chip away and make a couple runs at us. I was really proud of our team for withstanding those runs."
The fourth-rated Lady Bearcats (33-1) extended their winning streak to 25 games.
Anderson's only regular-season loss, 43-41 to Bryan Station, came Dec. 22.
Eriel McKee, a 5-foot-10 junior, paced Anderson with 27 points, eight rebounds and five steals. Makenzie Cann, a 6-0 junior, had 17 points and six assists, and 6-0 senior Kali Whiteside collected nine points and 10 rebounds.
Maci Brown, 6-for-10 from three-point range, led the sixth-rated Lady Colonels (26-3) with 18 points. Ellie Fruit added 14, DeAsia Outlaw 13.
"We got off to a slow start. ... We fought back to within (one) and didn't make a couple plays," Henderson Coach Jeff Haile said. "Then, some other things happened and we just couldn't get it done. But I'm proud of our kids."
The win puts the Bearcats into Friday's quarterfinals versus Corbin or Shelby Valley.
Cann knocked down three three-pointers in the first half, Destiny Stewart had two. McKee and Alex Averitt each had one.
"We're a very good shooting team but we still — against a strong, physical team that plays up-tempo and plays sound defense — we want to get the ball and get it inside and establish that also," Kays said. "We'd like to be a little more inside than outside. But when you're shooting like that, as a coach sitting over there, I'm not going to tell them to stop shooting."
The Bearcats stretched their 36-24 halftime lead to 17 when McKee scored a fast-break basket for a 44-27 edge with 3:15 left in the third.
A Brown three-point ignited a 7-0 Henderson run.
Trailing 48-39 through three quarters, the Colonels opened the fourth with a 10-2 rally to cut Anderson's lead to 50-49 with 4:44 left.
Brown and Callie Francis each had a three-pointer, while Outlaw and Fruit had two-pointers.
Anderson refused to yield the lead, though.
McKee drove to the hoop for two and, after a Henderson turnover, she stuck in a rebound off a missed free throw for a 54-49 lead.
The closest Henderson came from there was two points, the last time at 56-54 on a pair of Fruit free throws with 3:15 left.
Anderson closed the game with a 9-0 run, McKee getting all the points at the free-throw line while going 9-for-12.
After shooting 13-for-18 in the first half, Anderson cooled to 6-for-20 the rest of the way to finish at 50 percent. The Bearcats made 9 of 14 treys.
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229 Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com