Dillon Avare, a three-point shooting specialist for No. 12 Lexington Catholic, did his thing in dramatic style Friday night.
The 5-foot-11 junior hit an off-balance three at the buzzer to give the host Knights a 40-37 victory over Lafayette in the 43rd District finals Friday night.
"We were trying to get it down low to Jack (Whitman) or somebody," Avare said. "But the clock was running down so I threw it up and it happened to go in."
Lafayette Coach Mike Mendenhall III, who was an assistant at Lexington Catholic last year, is familiar with Avare's long-range bombing.
"I've seen him hit threes before, but a falling-down hook shot, that's a new one," Mendenhall said. "I'll give him that shot 10 out of 10 times. If he hits it, what can you do? That's basketball."
Lafayette, which led most of the night after jumping to an 11-0 lead, had its chances to win its first district title in 11 years.
With the score tied at 37, the Generals missed a layup with 1:05 left. After Lexington Catholic missed two free throws, Lafayette got the ball back. The Knights had four fouls to give, and used them to wind the clock down to 13 seconds.
After a timeout, the Generals got the ball to 6-foot-8 sophomore Jackson Davis. As he drove to the basket, he either slipped or was fouled when he reached the baseline. The officials ruled he stepped out of bounds.
The Knights got possession with 10 ticks left. Lafayette had fouls to give, and by the time it was whistled for its sixth, only three seconds remained. Lexington Catholic inbounded the ball near midcourt, and Avare got it and heaved up his game-winner.
"I'd like to say we practice that play every day, but we don't," Coach Brandon Salsman said. "But Dillon's been in the gym and he's probably shot that shot 10 or 15 billion times. We're glad he was able to make it for us tonight."
It was ironic that an improbable three-pointer went in on a night when neither team could shoot straight.
Lexington Catholic was 5-for-26 (19 percent) in the first half when it trailed by 12. The hosts finished the game 15-for-46 (33 percent).
Lafayette scored only nine points in the second half when it was 4-for-15 (27 percent).The Generals wound up the night 15-for-50 (30 percent).
Lexington Catholic senior guard Bryan Woomer was the difference-maker. He sparked the Knights' second-half comeback by hitting a pair of threes, and assisting on three Whitman baskets. Woomer also had a steal that led to Craig Floyd's layup that tied the score at 37.
Whitman led the winners with 14 points. Woomer had eight points and four assists.
Davis had 14 points and 13 rebounds for Lafayette. Nick Trisko added nine points and 10 rebounds, helping the Generals to a 43-26 edge on the boards.
"That's a battle-tested team," Mendenhall said of the Knights. "For my kids to be in this type atmosphere for the first time, I couldn't be prouder. As much as this one stings, we've gotta get ready for at least one more game."
Both teams advance to next week's 11th Region tournament in Richmond.
LAFAYETTE (13-18) — Davis 6-10 2-4 14, Blakely 1-3 0-0 2, Chester 0-7 0-0 0, Trisko 4-12 0-0 9, Burlingham 1-9 0-0 2, Sweat-Washington 1-7 4-4 6, Jeter 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 15-0 6-8 37.
LEXINGTON CATHOLIC (24-7) — Whitman 6-13 2-4 14, Woomer 2-10 2-2 8, Avare 2- 0-0 6, Keller 1-5 0-2 2, Floyd 1-8 0-1 2, Banahan 3-4 0-0 6, Muncy 0-0 2-2 2, Bennett 0-1 0-0 0.
Lafayette 15 13 5 4—37
Lexington Catholic 6 10 13 11—40
All-tournament: Bryan Woomer (MVP), Dillon Avare, Jack Whitman (LexCath); Jackson Davis, Lance Blakely (Lafayette); Mike Smith (Dunbar); Darius Gibson (Tates Creek); Tyler Harville (LCA).
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com