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The Collins girls’ basketball team wouldn’t go down without a fight Friday night.
However the Titans couldn’t quite get over the hump, either.
Second-ranked Anderson County outlasted Collins, 47-34, in the 30th District Tournament final on the Titans’ home court.
The Bearcats (29-1) built a 15-point halftime lead. Collins (15-14) cut that to nine twice in the fourth quarter but couldn’t get closer.
“That’s good going forward; it shows we can play with the number two team in the state,” said Titans Coach Phillip Conder, whose team will play South Oldham at 6 tonight in the first round of the 8th Region Tournament at North Oldham.
As was the case in its previous two games against the Bearcats, though, Collins couldn’t overcome its start.
Anderson County led the Titans by 11 points at halftime on Jan. 4 in Lawrenceburg (34-23) and Jan. 24 in Shelbyville (28-17). This time around the Bearcats’ bulge was 27-12.
Anderson County junior guard Mackenzie Cann, the 8th Region Player of the Year, scored the first basket of the game on a steal and layup. The Bearcats led, 6-2 – “They had seven shots in the first minute,” Conder said. “That’s not a very good ratio” – before Collins senior standout forward Aaliyah Wells hit a pull-up jumper to make it a 2-point game midway through the first frame.
Anderson County, however, outscored the Titans, 21-3, during the next 9 minutes and 55 seconds, and therein was the outcome of the game.
Bearcats junior guard Destiny Stewart sparked the run with two 3-point baskets in 1:10, woven around a free throw by Collins freshman Michelle Roberts and before a jumper by Wells. Anderson County, which beat Collins by 25 points (59-34) Jan. 4 and 33 points (64-31) Jan. 24, then scored the first 13 points of the second period.
Stewart hit another 3-pointer, and junior forward Eriel McKee scored three field goals in a row. Cann then hit two of her own before Titans junior guard Skylar Clemens ended Collins’s scoring drought with two free throws with 2:18 left in the half. Wells added a conventional 3-point play a short time later to make it a 15-point game at intermission.
Collins cut the Bearcats lead to 12 (30-18) early in the third quarter on a driving layup from freshman forward Whitney Pullen. The Titans had three chances to trim Anderson’s advantage to 10 later in the quarter but couldn’t. The last time was when Wells’ jumper spun in and out with 2 seconds to play in the period.
“When we have the opportunities, we have to capitalize,” Conder said.
Collins finally got its deficit under double digits on Wells’ steal and layup, which made it 34-25 1:17 into the fourth quarter, and after Cann scored on a driving layup, Wells hit two free throws with 6:04 to play to make it 36-27. The Titans, though, would get no closer.
McKee, also a member of the all-8th Region team, tied Wells for game-high scoring honors with 19 points and also snared 11 rebounds. Collectively the Bearcats outrebounded the Titans, 30-17, including 14-3 on the offensive end.
“We’ve got to work on our rebounding, that’s the bottom line,” Conder said afterward.
Cann added 11 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists for Anderson, which shot 40 percent (20-for-50) from the field, but was only 3-of-17 (17.6 percent) from 3-point range.
Stewart, who had scored one point and was 0-for-4 from 3-point range in the first two meetings this season, contributed nine points on 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. That helped Anderson overcome its 4-of-11 (36.4 percent) shooting from the free throw line.
Collins shot just 30 percent (9-of-30) from the field – the Titans were 0-of-3 from 3-point range – but hit 16 of 20 (80 percent) from the free-throw line.
After scoring 36 points on 38 shots in Collins’ double-overtime victory over Shelby County in the district semifinals, Wells was 6-for-15 from the field and 7-of-7 from the line for her 19 points. She also recorded seven rebounds and four steals.
Roberts and Pullen added five points apiece for the Titans, who will be making their third appearance in the 8th Region Tournament in their three seasons of existence tonight.
“We still get to fight one more time,” Conder said.