RICHMOND — Lexington Catholic's Jarrod Griffin swished three-pointers on three consecutive trips down the floor late in the first half against Woodford County in the 11th Region tournament opener on Monday night.
It wasn't just a show of shooting accuracy by Griffin. It was a show of support by the Knights' role players, who will be needed to score if Lexington Catholic is to make a deep run in the post-season.
Jack Whitman once again led the Knights in their 63-53 victory over Woodford County. The 6-foot-9 senior had 17 points and seven rebounds.
Whitman had only four points in the first half, but his team still had a comfortable 31-12 lead at the break. That's because guards Griffin, Dillon Avare and Michael Talbott combined for 23 of Lexington Catholic's 31 points.
Considering the Knights were without second-leading scorer Tanner Johnson, who hurt his ankle in the district finals, it was imperative that Whitman get some help.
"Jack's been carrying us," Griffin said. "And when Tanner got hurt, we were kind of out of sorts in scoring. Today we stepped up. It was a good way to bounce back after the (51-40 loss to Paul Laurence Dunbar) in the district finals."
Lexington Catholic will play No. 10 Scott County in Friday's semifinals. The Cardinals beat Madison Southern 68-47 in Monday's nightcap at EKU's McBrayer Arena.
Griffin and Talbott, both sophomores, finished with 13 points each. Reese Ryan, another sophomore, had 10 points and six rebounds, and Avare added eight points.
Woodford County, which upset Lexington Catholic in the first round of the region last year and knocked off the Knights again in December, didn't go down without a fight. The Yellowjackets, who trailed by 21 early in the second half, twice cut the deficit to 10 and had shots to get even closer. But they couldn't get over the hump and the Knights survived.
"When you get to the region tournament, you've got to be able to dodge a bullet and we were able to do that tonight," Lexington Catholic Coach Brandon Salsman said.
"We had a great team effort. The guys did an absolutely fabulous job."
Salsman expected Whitman to come on strong in the second half. "We knew he'd eventually wear down their big guy. When he gets the ball down low, he's tough to guard."
Chase Henderlight, a 6-5 senior, did a decent job on Whitman, but he fouled out after picking up a personal and a technical with 5:50 left.
Woodford County was led by Eli Boggess. The 5-11 junior had 13 of his 16 points in the second half to spark the Jackets' comeback.
Jalen Raglin had 11 points and nine rebounds.
Scott County 68, Madison Southern 47: On a night when its offense was missing in action at times, Scott County relied on its second-half defense to get by.
"It looked like a pick-up game the first half," Cards Coach Billy Hicks said, noting how Madison Southern's Tyler Abshear sliced his way to 18 points. "We didn't contain the ball. Abshear broke us down the whole half."
The second half was a different story.
Scott County held the Eagles scoreless for the last 5:50 of the third quarter, and wound up pulling away. Abshear managed just four free throws in the second half.
Hicks credited 6-9 Jordan Tribble for giving the Cards "a big inside presence, blocking some shots and making it tough on 'em in there."
Scott County's offense, as usual, was led by guards Trent Gilbert and Quin Richardson. Gilbert, a junior, hit four threes on his way to 18 points. Richardson hit a pair of threes and had 15 points.
Jalen Haddix, a smooth-shooting left-hander, added 12 points and seven rebounds. Tribble had six points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
Lexington Catholic 63, Woodford Co. 53
LEXINGTON CATHOLIC (21-10) — Whitman 17, Griffin 13, Talbott 13, Ryan 10, Avare 8, Neuer 2.
WOODFORD COUNTY (16-15) — Boggess 16, Raglin 11, Henderlight 4, Hickman 3, Cole 2, Howell 8, Graf 3, Hamilton 4, McGrady 2.
Lexington Catholic 11 20 14 18—63
Woodford County 5 7 21 20—53
Scott Co. 68, Madison Southern 47
MADISON SOUTHERN (17-12) — Abshear 22, Taylor 8, Napier 4, Rothermel 9, Norris 1, Rose 3.
SCOTT COUNTY (24-7) — Gilbert 18, Richardson 15, Haddix 12, Doss 4, Portwood 5, Tribble 6, Short 4, Crank 2, Shurman 2.
Madison Southern 15 15 6 11—47
Scott County 23 18 9 18—68