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Anderson boys, PH girls advance in county tournament

Jan. 2—PENDLETON — Christian Townsend is known by his Anderson coaches and team more for his offensive abilities than for his defense.

While the junior guard did score 15 points, Townsend's two steals on the game's final two possessions denied rival Pendleton Heights a chance to tie or win the game in the closing seconds as Anderson kept its hopes of repeating as Madison County champions with a 53-50 win over the Arabians on Joe Buck Court on Tuesday night.

Elsewhere on the boys bracket, Frankton defeated Anderson Prep Academy 58-39, Liberty Christian edged Alexandria 39-37, and Lapel routed Elwood 68-34. Anderson (6-2) snapped a two-game losing streak and will face Lapel in the second semifinal Wednesday evening while the host Eagles will play Liberty Christian in the opener at 6 p.m.

Pendleton Heights (4-7) will travel to The Hangar in Anderson to play Elwood after the host Jets battle the Tigers in the consolation bracket, also played Wednesday.

In the opener at Pendleton, Olivia Jones scored 13 points in the second quarter after Kaycie Warfel picked up her third foul and went on to a career-high 29 points to lead the Arabians into the semifinal round with a 62-46 win over Anderson.

In the boys game, Townsend gave Anderson their biggest lead of the second half at 43-33 as he scored off a steal to open the fourth quarter.

But Aaron Cookston delivered a 3-point basket for the Arabians and Pendleton Heights mounted a comeback that drew it within 51-50 on a Cooper Sims 3-point play with just under a minute remaining.

After Damien King made one of two free throws for Anderson with 12.8 seconds left, Townsend then stole the ball at the top of the key and was fouled. He also made one of two free throws to leave the door open for PH.

But Townsend slammed that door shut with a second straight steal to lock up Anderson's eighth straight win over the Arabians.

"Offensively, (Townsend) might be the most gifted offensive player we have," Anderson coach Donnie Bowling said. "With the whole intricacy of playing varsity basketball, you have to defend too. That's why he sat a couple games, we've got to defend. I think he's getting it now."

King led Anderson with 17 points and 10 rebounds while Townsend scored 15 points. Josiah Gustin led PH with 16 points and four assists, and Cooper Sims contributed 15 points off the Arabians bench.

With their star junior on the sidelines with foul trouble, Jones was more than equal to the task for the Arabians.

PH leading scorer Kaycie Warfel sat the final 5:30 of the first half after her third foul and fouled out late in the third quarter. Jones, who averages just under nine points per game, scored on a drive to the basket and followed with a pair of free throws. After Anderson (5-11) scored on a Gabby Douglass layup to pull within five points at 19-14, it was an Aubree Warfel drive followed by a Jones rebound basket that served as an Arabians answer.

Kennedy Brown followed with a 3-pointer for Anderson, but Jones answered with a three-ball of her own and scored the final eight points of the half for a 30-17 lead at intermission.

"(Olivia) is such a good shooter, our big thing to her is that even if she isn't shooting well, how can (she) put her imprint on the game," PH coach Nick Rogers said. "That can be rebounding, defense. ... She's been growing into that role and I think she's understanding what are good looks, what are OK looks. Her effort, she's always guarding the best player on the other end."

"Seeing (Kaycie) get that third foul, that was kind of scary," Jones said. "I knew that, once I hit my first shot, I was feeling it, I knew I was OK.

"It's huge to go out and have a game like that, especially after being in a little slump. It's a big confidence booster."

Anderson kept nipping at the Arabians heels in the second half, but after a Douglass jumper pulled the Indians within 11 points, Jones responded with a basket before Emma Roberts drilled a 3-point basket — her only score for the Arabians — to stem the Anderson surge.

Jones also had 10 rebounds while freshman Adah Hupfer added a double-double of her own with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Jacelyn Starks led Anderson with 16 points while Douglass scored 14 and Brown had 10 points.

The Pendleton Heights girls will now face defending champion Lapel after the Bulldogs routed Elwood 71-25. It will be a rematch of last year's championship game, won by Lapel.

"That's one of my favorite rivalries that we get to play in each year," Jones said. "Obviously last year, it was a tough loss in the final. I know we came back and got them during the year, but I'm ready to go for this one."

Anderson will move on to the consolation bracket and play the Panthers in Elwood Thursday at 6 p.m.

Contact Rob Hunt at rob.hunt@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4886.