When Ashanti Thomas is active and aggressive, it's easy to see why Lafayette is rated one of the top girls' basketball teams in Kentucky.
Thomas, a 6-foot-3 junior, looked inspired while leading No. 6 Lafayette to a 66-40 victory over Lexington Christian Academy in the 43rd District semifinals at Paul Laurence Dunbar on Wednesday night.
Thomas was unstoppable inside. She powered her way to 22 points and 14 rebounds as the Generals beat LCA for the 10th time in a row.
"Come district time, this is when I know my team really needs me, so I did all I could," said Thomas, who averaged 10 points and nine rebounds in the regular season.
Lafayette Coach Allison Denton, whose team earned a spot in Friday's district finals against Dunbar, and in next week's 11th Region tournament, knew Thomas had a big game in her.
"When Ashanti comes to play, she's a force to be reckoned with. She just has to decide every game to do that.
"I haven't seen her make shots like that all year, and I haven't seen her demand the ball like that."
Thomas teamed with 6-0 Sarah Cooley (12 points, five rebounds, four assists) to give Lafayette a strong inside presence.
Generals' guards Dee Givens (13 points, five rebounds, three assists), Kiara Pankins (eight points, seven rebounds) and Ken'yale Demus (seven points, three assists, three steals) made big contributions, too.
LCA took a surprising 16-12 lead in the first quarter. The Eagles hit enough shots to offset Lafayette's rebounding work.
The tide began to turn after that. The Generals outscored LCA 15-2 in the second quarter, holding the Eagles to a pair of free throws.
LCA stayed within striking distance for a while, and trailed by only 10 late in the third quarter.
"But as the game wore on, we just continued to get pounded on the glass," Coach Nick Cann said.
Lafayette outrebounded LCA 42-15 and had a 25-3 advantage in second-chance points.
Holly Huellemeier, a 5-11 senior, led LCA with 19 points. Senior guard Katelin Bundy had eight points (all in the first half) and four assists. Hayley Strunk added six points, eight rebounds and three assists.
"The last time we played them, we were down 30 at halftime," Cann said. "So we showed ourselves a lot better tonight. We were able to come out and make Lafayette play well."
LAFAYETTE 66, LEXINGTON CHRISTIAN 40
LEXINGTON CHRISTIAN (10-17) -- Huellemeier 19, Bundy 8, Strunk 6, Hartley 5, James 2.
LAFAYETTE (23-3) -- Thomas 22, Cooley 12, Givens 13, Pankins 8, Demus 7, Conwell 2, Nagahiro 2.
LCA 16 2 12 10 —40
Lafayette 12 15 18 21—66
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.