LAWRENCEBURG — Two teams that have legitimate hopes of reaching the Sweet Sixteen met Tuesday, and the result was worthy of tournament time.
No. 3 Anderson County came from behind in the second half to edge No. 6 Franklin County 45-42.
"Two teams that have got a chance to do something in the post-season," winning coach Tony Kays said. "I think that they've got a good shot in the 11th (region) and Joey (Thacker, coach of the Flyers) does a really good job with them.
"They made it difficult for us, switching up their defenses every time down, and we struggled to find some shots. ... We were able to make enough, but I think defense, that was the key. Second half, we stopped their transition buckets, and I think we ended up outrebounding them."
That the Bearcats did, 22-16.
Eriel McKee, Anderson's all-time scoring leader, led the Bearcats (19-4) with 18 points and nine rebounds. Jessica Rice added 11 points, all in the first half.
McKee and Makenzie Cann, during a pre-game ceremony, were presented with basketballs to commemorate each eclipsing 2,000 career points. Cann, though, is slowed by swollen throat glands and aches. She was held to seven points.
Franklin (19-5) got 10 points each from Malaka Frank and Dasia Kilbourne.
Anderson County, behind back-to-back three-pointers by Rice, jumped to an early 10-4 lead.
But Franklin County led 16-12 through one quarter and 24-21 at halftime. Kilbourne led the Lady Flyers with seven first-half points, while Rice had 11 for Anderson.
Anderson scored the first nine points of the second half to take a 30-24 lead, and never lost grip.
Ahead 33-31 through three quarters, the Bearcats started the fourth quarter with a 4-1 mini-run to take a five-point lead.
McKee beat the press with back-to-back drives to the hoop for a 43-36 lead with 1:31 left.
"Us getting out and pushing it really helped us," said McKee, a 5-foot-10 senior. "Our shooting wasn't really on, but transition was pretty good."
The closest Franklin came after that was the final score, getting a buzzer-beating layup by Frank.
"Just one of those gut-it-out performances," Kays said.
Thacker, who starts two freshmen and two sophomores, thought the game had a tournament feel.
"I told our kids it would be kind of a regional tournament kind of atmosphere," he said. "I thought we played well enough defensively to win. I think we put ourselves in a pickle offensively at times with some decisions.
"You can't miss those chippies against good teams, and we missed some down in the paint that either gave us a chance to get back in it or gave us a chance to stretch the lead out when we had a lead. We're awful young. I've got socks and underwear older than most of these kids."
The teams may well see each other in a few weeks, provided they survive their respective region tournaments.
"I think it would be nice to see them again," McKee said. "But I feel like we're the better team."
Anderson Co. 45, Franklin Co. 42
FRANKLIN CO. (19-5) — White 8, Frank 10, Kilbourne 10, Stewart 7, Cook 4, Arraska 3.
ANDERSON CO. (19-4) — Stewart 2, Rice 11, Cann 7, Avritt 4, McKee 18, Currens 3.
Franklin County 16 8 7 11—42
Anderson County 12 9 12 12—45
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.