Lafayette's basketball season was on the brink in the 43rd District semifinals Wednesday night.
Lexington Christian Academy led the No. 11 Generals 47-36 late in the third quarter and was playing with spunk and confidence.
Then everything changed.
Lafayette, showing the comeback grit it has flashed all season, went on a monster 20-2 run and pulled out a 62-53 victory at Paul Laurence Dunbar.
The Generals locked up a spot in Friday's district finals against Lexington Catholic and a trip to next week's 11th Region tournament.
Lafayette senior star Jackson Davis said he knew he and his teammates would respond with a season-saving rally against LCA.
"We came out with guns ablazin' and played as hard as we could because we knew this was the last one if we didn't pull it out," Davis said.
The 6-foot-8 senior did his part. With Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings watching from second-row midcourt, Davis led Lafayette with 28 points, 12 rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals.
Davis, hemmed in by LCA's sagging defense, did a lot of damage in the fourth quarter from the free-throw line.
"I knew I wasn't going to get a lot of clean shots so I had to step up and hit my free throws," he said.
Davis made 12 of 16 foul shots in the last seven minutes, and finished the night 17 of 25 from the line.
"That's what seniors do when they don't want to go home," Lafayette Coach Mike Mendenhall III said.
Dontavion "Lucky" Jackson also provided a spark and wound up with 10 points. Dequise Robinson also had 10 points. Lance Blakley added six points, five rebounds and two assists.
Mendenhall thought Lafayette's pressure defense wore down LCA in the critical closing minutes.
LCA assistant Tom Bower, who was the Eagles' bench boss because head coach Brad Carter was home sick, agreed that the Generals' defense turned the tide.
"They sped us up and we didn't respond," he said.
Lafayette's comeback began in the final seconds of the third quarter when Harrison Lane hit a three-pointer to cut LCA's lead to 47-39.
The Generals scored the first four points of the fourth quarter before Matt Rose hit a pair of free throws to push the Eagles' lead to 49-43.
That was LCA's last score for seven minutes. Lafayette went on an 11-0 run to take control, then sealed its eighth win in a row over LCA with free throws, most of them by Davis.
"Their star (Davis) really stepped up," Bower said. "He's Mr. Basketball as far as I'm concerned. He deserves all the accolades."
LCA deserves praise, too.
Looking for the program's first-ever trip to the 11th Region tournament, the Eagles gave it all they had.
Drew Trimble, a 6-7 junior, led LCA with 16 points and seven rebounds. Rose, a 6-6 junior, had 14 points and eight rebounds. Benton Nighbert, a 6-4 junior, had 11 points off the bench.
Michael Young, a 6-5 senior, had eight points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Bower said LCA's performance "against a team that could be cutting down the nets in a month" would be a "great steppingstone" for next season.
"But we want them to remember how much this hurts and use it as motivation."
LAFAYETTE 62, LEXINGTON CHRISTIAN 53
LEXINGTON CHRISTIAN (18-12) — Young 8, Rose 14, Trimble 16, Hill 4, Nighbert 11.
LAFAYETTE (18-9) — Davis 28, Robinson 10, Blakley 6, Lane 3, Jackson 10, Jenkins 4, Carpenter 1.
LCA 5 19 23 6 —53
Lafayette 8 20 11 23—62
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.