JESSIEVILLE - With University of Arkansas assistant Dan Hipsher, Oklahoma State assistant James Dickey and Ole Miss assistant Grant Pate all looking on and many fans seeing him for the first time, Junction City junior star James Anderson showed what all the fuss is about again on Thursday.
Anderson, a 6-6, 190-pound Jordanesque swingman, had 38 points, 18 rebounds and 6 assists to lead his Dragons over Midland 72-46 in the second round of the Class AA state tournament at the Jessieville Sports Arena.
He was 12-of-20 from the field, 3-of-4 from 3-point range and knocked down all 11 of his free throws.
"We made a few mistakes there early on, but we were ready to come out here and play ball and get after it and we did,' Anderson said. "I was just trying to do whatever I could to help my team win."
The win moves Junction City (24-5) into a semifinal round game Friday afternoon at 2:30 against defending state champ Buffalo Island Central (33-5), who is led by South Alabama signee Brooks Taylor.
Taylor, who had 23 in a 54-47 opening round win over Danville on Tuesday, recently had 61 points in BIC's 90-78 win over Maynard in the 3AA-North tournament championship game to run its winning streak in league games to 58.
He hit 9 3-pointers while going 19-of-41 from the field and 14-of-20 from the free throw line for a team coached by his dad Bill Taylor.
Earle did beat BIC 66-38 in the regional final with Taylor just scoring seven points and fouling out.
"They are state champs until somebody beats them," Junction City head coach Joe Paul Hammett said. "It will be a challenge. They have been here and we haven't. They are definitely a quality basketball team plus the Taylor kid is an awesome scorer. Definitely we'll have to stay in there defensively and it will be a key part to the ballgame."
Anderson, who is averaging 32 points a game this season, said he looks forward to the challenge.
"It's going to be a good game," Anderson said. "They have a lot of good shooters and we are just going to have to play good defense like we normally play."
Anderson, painfully shy off the court, was forceful once again on it with 19 first half points as the Dragons rolled up a 35-19 halftime lead.
"He has just come up big for us all year," Hammett said. "...When we need it, he gets it done, but the other guys do a great job of getting him the basketball."
He even showed a flair for the dramatic when his number 23 jersey got blood on it and he had to switch to 45 for the final quarter - the two numbers, of course, that Michael Jordan wore during his legendary NBA career.
"I had three or four of them actually get blood on them that came off a Midland player's hand, but it got on our jersey. We had some stuff to get it out, but they said if you can see it you have got to take it off. At first they said he couldn't play with another number. But I said you have got to let him play with another number. So they ended up letting us change."
Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss and Baylor seem to be the four schools recruiting Anderson the hardest right now.
He has noticed the Razorbacks' four-game winning streak and been impressed.
"They have been doing really good lately," Anderson said. "They've really got it going on and it's been fun to see."
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