Boys' 11th Region semifinals: Lexington Catholic ousts Scott County in OT

mfields@herald-leader.comMarch 1, 2013 

RICHMOND — Unrated and loving it.

That's the Lexington Catholic boys' basketball team, which you won't find in Dave Cantrall's top 25 but you will find in the 11th Region finals.

The Knights knocked off No. 10 Scott County 61-56 in overtime in the region semifinals in front of more than 4,000 fans in Eastern Kentucky University's McBrayer Arena on Friday night.

"Do do me a favor and keep us out of that poll. We love being unranked and playing the underdog role," a giddy Lexington Catholic coach Brandon Salsman said after his team avenged an 11-point loss to Scott County three weeks ago.

"It definitely feels great to beat them now. I love this atmosphere," Knights senior Jack Whitman said.

The Knights advance to Saturday night's finals against No. 3 Madison Central.

The 6-foot-9 Whitman led the winners with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

While he was Mr. Inside for the Knights, Tanner Johnson was Mr. Outside.

The 6-5 sophomore sat out the first round of the region with a bad ankle, but he looked fine against Scott County. Johnson had seven points in the first three minutes, and wound up hitting four three-pointers on his way to 18 points. He also had six rebounds.

Johnson said he was surprised by his strong start coming off his injury.

"I think adrenaline masked the pain in my ankle a little," he said.

Scott County had a poor shooting performance (34 percent), but it still battled the Knights to the finish behind Quin Richardson (25 points), Trent Gilbert (18 points) and Jalen Haddix (nine points, 10 rebounds).

The defending region champion Cardinals trailed 50-48 with 25 seconds left in regulation. They tied it on Gilbert's fade-away 15-footer with :07 left.

After a timeout, Lexington Catholic had to settle for a 40-foot heave by Johnson that didn't come close.

Johnson and Whitman hit the big shots in overtime.

With the score tied at 52, Johnson nailed a 25-foot three from the right wing. When he landed, he twisted his ankle and got a cramp in his calf. He had to be carried off the court.

After Richardson's two free throws for Scott County made it 55-54, Whitman swished a fade-away 10-footer form the left baseline. That sparked a 6-0 run by Lexington Catholic, which sealed the victory with steady free-throw shooting by Jarrod Griffin in the final seconds.

"I was glad to see (Johnson and Whitman) take those shots, but gosh they hit both of them," Scott County Coach Billy Hicks said.

Whitman was able to get the ball regularly down low in the first half and had 12 points. Scott County did a better job collapsing its defense in the second half, but that opened up Johnson to hit three threes.

"I don't think we lost it as much as Catholic made plays," Hicks said.

"But I'm so proud of our kids. The way we were shooting, it's amazing we were able to stay in the game. Our effort kept us in it."

Lexington Catholic is shooting for its fourth region title in six years.

"We have one more really tough game to go," Salsman said. "We'll see what happens."

Lexington Catholic 61, Scott Co. 56 (OT)

SCOTT COUNTY (24-8) Richardson 25, Gilbert 18, Haddix 9, Doss 2, Portwood 2.

LEXINGTON CATHOLIC (22-10) Whitman 21, Johnson 18, Ryan 1, Griffin 9, Talbott 6, Banahan 4, Fraliex 2.

Scott County 16 10 12 12 6—56

Lexington Catholic 19 13 9 9 11—61

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337 Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes Blog:

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