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Gaither’s team ‘outcoached and outplayed’

By Josh Cook

LAWRENCEBURG – With its offensive execution and disciplined defense, Anderson County kept the Collins boys’ basketball team out of sync all night on its way to a 55-43 30th District victory Friday.

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The host Bearcats held the Titans to 29.5 percent shooting – while shooting 54.5 percent themselves – and without a field goal for nearly 13 minutes (from early in the second quarter until late in the third), to win a key district game.

“We got outcoached and outplayed,” Collins Coach Chris Gaither said. “I’ll take the blame for this game. Offensively we were stagnant, and defensively we weren’t disciplined.”

Anderson County (11-1, 1-1) outscored the Titans, 15-6, in the first quarter en route to a 24-13 halftime lead and a 16-point margin (32-16) in the third quarter.

Collins, the preseason favorite to win the 8th Region, rallied, though, cutting the deficit to seven early in the fourth period before Anderson County pulled away.

The Bearcats beat the Titans early last year – on Jay Smith’s last-second 3-pointer in Shelbyville – before Collins turned the table, topping Anderson, 62-47, in the 30th District final in Lawrenceburg. In that first meeting the Titans erased a double-digit second-half deficit before Smith’s heroics. Collins later shot 68.2 percent in the second half on the way to its first district title.

This time around Anderson County dominated from nearly the opening tip.  

The Titans (9-4, 1-1) took the quick lead when Ralphie Stone won the tip, Brent Kidwell grabbed the ball and passed to Dez Marshall, who streaked in for a two-handed dunk. However those were the only points of the game for Marshall, Collins’ leading scorer who missed most of the fourth quarter with an ankle injury, and that was the Titans’ lone lead of the night.

Smith answered with back-to-back baskets for the Bearcats and was fouled after the second one to convert a conventional 3-point play, giving Anderson a 5-2 lead.

Stone responded with a layup on the other end, but Anderson’s Austin Linzy scored inside, and  Christian Estes hit a 3-pointer to give the Bearcats a 10-4 advantage.

Buddy Johnson’s runner made it 10-6, but Luke Mann’s conventional 3-point play and Estes’ jumper put Anderson ahead 15-6 at the end of the first quarter.

Kidwell started the second period scoring by getting a rebound and going coast to coast for a layup, but Linzy hit 1 of 2 free throws before Stone hit a pull-up jumper with 7:02 to play in the second period.

That was the final field goal of the first half for the Titans, who trailed by 11 at intermission.

Anderson then outscored Collins, 8-3, to start the second half, doubling up the Titans (32-16) on Mann’s 3-pointer from the wing with 5:02 to play in the third period.

A turnaround jumper by Titans senior center Terez Smith, who sat out the first 10 minutes of the game, with 2:15 to play in the third quarter ended Collins’ dry spell – the Titans went without a basket for the final 7:01 of the first half and the first 5:44 of the second – and began a 9-0 run.

Two free throws each by Stone and Kidwell, a rebound basket by Johnson and a free throw by Smith 19 seconds into the fourth quarter made it a 7-point deficit (32-25).

“We turned them over a little bit with our defense at that point,” said Gaither, whose team forced 13 second-half turnovers while committing only one.

That was as close as Collins would get, however.

“They’re too good of a team, controlling the ball and the tempo,” Gaither said.

Anderson opened up its largest lead (49-31) with 3:05 to play before the Titans’ final rally. Collins scored 10 of the next 12 points, cutting it to 51-43 on Johnson’s 3-pointer with 1:00 left. But the Bearcats hit four of six free throws after that to seal the victory.  

Anderson sizzled the nets in the second half, shooting 64.3 percent (9-for-14), on its way to 18-for-33 for the game.

On the flip side Collins hit just 13 of 44 shots.

 “They just played disciplined defense,” Gaither said of the Bearcats.

Stone topped the Titans with 14 points. Kidwell and Johnson added 13 and 10, respectively. Meanwhile Marshall finished 1-for-5 from the field in 19 minutes. He got off to a slow start, picking up two fouls in the first half, then late in the third quarter he rolled his ankle. He played very briefly in the fourth quarter.

Collins, which hosted Trinity on Tuesday night, plays at Shelby County at 7:30 p.m. Friday.