Paul Laurence Dunbar still hasn't beaten Lexington Catholic in boys' basketball in this century.
Dunbar, No. 11 in the state, figured to have a shot at ending a long losing streak against the No. 25 Knights on Thursday night.
It didn't happen.
Host Lexington Catholic, led by the strong inside play of Jack Whitman and sharp three-point shooting by Dillon Avare and Tanner Johnson, bounced the Bulldogs 70-43. It was the Knights' 12th win in a row over Dunbar since a loss in the 1997 region finals.
Whitman, a 6-foot-9 senior, had 23 points (9-for-9 from the field), eight rebounds and an upbeat assessment of his team's performance.
"I thought that was maybe our best game of the year," Whitman said. "If we play like that, we can win the region."
"I was hitting my shots, and when they collapsed on me I kicked it out and we hit the threes."
Coach Brandon Salsman liked what he saw from his players, except for their 7-for-20 free-throw shooting.
"I told them that was one heck of a team effort, one of the best 'team' games I've seen at Lexington Catholic, and I've seen a lot. They stuck to the game plan and played with each other."
Dunbar stayed with the Knights for a while and led 19-17 early in the second quarter. But foul trouble hurt the Bulldogs. Point guard Mike Smith and big guys E.J. Floreal and Taylor King each picked up two early fouls.
"That kind of set the tone," Dunbar Coach Scott Chalk said. "We stopped executing when we got in foul trouble. Everybody started doing their own thing, and you're not going to beat anybody doing that."
Lexington Catholic, on the other hand, did just what it was supposed to do. It got the ball inside to Whitman, or into the hands of Avare and Johnson on the perimeter.
Reese Ryan, a sophomore guard, provided a spark by penetrating and passing off to Whitman, or getting to the rim himself. He finished with six points, five rebounds and four assists.
Salsman called Ryan one of the "unsung heroes. He was a catalyst for what we were able to do out there."
Avare, a senior, had 16 points, including 4-for-8 on threes, and four assists. Johnson, a sophomore. had 14 points, including 4-for-6 on threes, and 10 rebounds.
"When Jack's scoring inside and Dillon and Tanner are are uncorked and hitting the threes, it's a deadly combination," Salsman said.
The Knights got the shots they wanted and it showed. They hit 27 of 44 (61 percent) from the field, including 9-for-18 on threes.
"They're the best three-point shooting team around here, and maybe in the state," Chalk said.
Dunbar never did find its offensive rhythm or defensive intensity.
Smith led the Bulldogs with 14 points. Floreal had eight points and 11 rebounds.
LEXINGTON CATHOLIC 70, PAUL DUNBAR 43
PAUL DUNBAR (11-7) -- Smith 14, Floreal 8, Trigg 5, Gary 5, King 0, McHugh 1, Williams 5, Davis 2, Lewis 3.
LEXINGTON CATHOLIC (13-6) -- Whitman 23, Avare 16, Johnson 14, Ryan 6, Griffin 5, Talbott 6.
Paul Dunbar 13 13 15 2—43
Lexington Catholic 12 26 20 12—70
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337 Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com