LAWRENCEBURG — Paul Laurence Dunbar did the little things down the stretch Thursday night, winning its first road test of the girls' basketball season by holding off Anderson County 47-38.
"We're very young, but very coachable," said Sarah Bridenbaugh, coach of the Bulldogs (2-0). "And they're doing a good job of listening and doing the things I'm asking them to do. I'm proud of their work ethic right now.
"I thought Anderson came out well, quick. They're very quick, pressing; forced us into 26 turnovers, which a lot of times you don't win games."
Merissa Joseph led the Lady Bulldogs with 13 points. Mashayla Cecil added 10.
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Anderson County, in its season opener, was topped by Kaci Currens with 10 points.
"Tip of the hat to Sarah and her team. They play hard. They're well-coached," Bearcats Coach Clay Birdwhistell said. "She does an outstanding job with them. They were better than us tonight, no question about it.
"Every time we got close to them, within striking distance, they made plays. We set offensive basketball back about two decades in the first half. It wasn't our night, and all the credit goes to them."
Cecil, a 5-foot-4 freshman, scored Dunbar's first seven points, spotting the Bulldogs a 7-2 lead.
"Actually, in warmups I wasn't hitting that well," Cecil said. "But in the game I started hitting and I felt pretty good."
The lead was 9-5 through a quarter and 21-17 at halftime.
Joseph, the daughter of Kentucky football tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow, scored the last six points of the third quarter, which ended with Dunbar on top 34-23.
"In the third quarter, I thought we all played as a team and got our heads in it, and we knew we had to come out and win this game," Joseph said. "It's tough on the road, but I thought we did well and executed."
Nicole Armstrong's three-pointer to open the fourth-quarter scoring pushed the lead to 37-23. But Anderson County refused to fold.
The Bearcats scored the next nine points to make it a five-point game.
After Joseph scored for Dunbar, a three-pointer by Corrin Robinson pulled Anderson to within four, 39-35.
Autumn Herriford answered with a Dunbar basket, but another Anderson trey, this time by Marissa Walker, made it 41-38 with 1:53 left.
The Bearcats would get the ball three times with a chance to tie with a three-pointer, but they misfired on three shots and lost a turnover to Ezzy Ighodaro.
"They tightened up on defense, wouldn't let us get an easy look," Birdwhistell said. "They cleaned the boards. And they went on the other end and made a play. And at the end of the day, they just made more plays than we did."
"I thought we played together as a team when it came down the stretch and they started coming back," Cecil said. "But Coach brought us together and said 'Hey, we need to finish it out,' so that's what we did."
Dunbar went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final minute.
"We finished the ballgame. They ran at us a little bit, but we finished, and I was proud of my team tonight," Bridenbaugh said. "It was a great team win."
Dunbar 47, Anderson Co. 38
DUNBAR (2-0) — Herriford 7, Cecil 10, Rosen 3, Armstrong 9, Joseph 13, Ighodaro 5.
ANDERSON CO. (0-1) — Stratton 0, Robinson 5, Walker 3, Aldridge 2, Currens 10, Rogers 2, Wilson 3, Sims 5, Curry 6, Harley 2.
Dunbar 9 12 13 13 — 47
Anderson Co. 5 12 6 15 — 38