Lafayette looked like a basketball team coming off an eight-day holiday layoff as the Generals fell behind host Bryan Station by nine points midway through the third quarter of a high school game Tuesday night.
Coach Mike Mendenhall III admitted it was "painful to watch" his rusty Generals struggle. But if No. 7 Lafayette proved anything in December, it's that it knows how to battle through tough times against good competition.
Sure enough, Lafayette showed that grit in its first game of 2014 by rallying to beat Bryan Station 51-49.
"We're resilient," Mendenhall said. "We don't stop fighting, and you've gotta do that in these city games."
It also helps to have a horse like Jackson Davis.
The 6-foot-9 senior got off to a slow start — he didn't score for the first 10 minutes — but he finished with 22 points (four dunks), 14 rebounds and three assists.
"I've gotta give it to Jackson Davis," Bryan Station Coach Mike Allen said. "He's a gym rat. The kid has paid the price to get better."
Jackson delivered in the clutch against the Defenders.
After Bryan Station erased a 44-41 deficit to take a 46-44 lead on Jordan Henry's looping layup and C.J. Walker's three-pointer, Davis' rebound basket tied it with 1:32 left.
Then, with the Defenders winding down the clock, Davis came up with a steal at the top of the key. He was fouled and hit one of two free throws with :40 to go.
After Bryan Station missed a three-point attempt, Lafayette's DeQuise Robinson cashed two foul shots.
The Defenders misfired again from long range, and Davis hit two free throws to make it 51-46 with three seconds left. That rendered Walker's three at the buzzer meaningless.
Robinson and Jajuante Carpenter had nine points each for Lafayette. Dontavion "Lucky" Jackson chipped in with five points, three rebounds and lots of hustle.
Jackson sat with two fouls in the first half, and Mendenhall said the Generals sorely missed him. "He just plays so hard," the coach said. "He's our energy guy, and once he got in there in the second half he was able to get that going for us."
Jackson said the Generals never blinked when they trailed 34-25 midway through the third quarter.
"It's like we always start out sluggish, but once we get going we're like a train. We're hard to stop."
Bryan Station was led by Henry with 16 points. Tequan Claitt had nine points and nine rebounds.
The Defenders had a difficult time scoring in the halfcourt against Lafayette's zone and its big guys inside.
"They've got five guards who can get to the hole and finish," Mendenhall said. "We wanted to clog it up and make them beat us from the outside."
Bryan Station shot 36 percent, (4-for-15 on three-pointers). Lafayette shot 40 percent (2-for-5 threes).
The Defenders won the battle of the boards, but they still came up short.
"We're getting better," Allen said, noting his team was coming off an upset of top-25 Warren Central over the weekend. "We had our chances tonight, but we need to start winning some of these close games."
Lafayette's victory tied this 51-year-old city rivalry 58-58.
Lafayette 51, Bryan Station 49
LAFAYETTE (9-5) — Davis 22, Robinson 9, Carpenter 9, Jackson 5, Blakley 4, J.Jenkins 2.
BRYAN STATION (8-5) — Claitt 9, Henry 16, Allen 5, Walker 5, Washington 6, Reynolds 3, Owsley 5.
Lafayette 7 14 16 14—51
Bryan Station 9 15 12 13—49
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.