Boys' 43rd District finals: LexCath beats Lafayette in 2 overtimes

mfields@herald-leader.comFebruary 28, 2014 

Lexington Catholic came out the winner in one of the wildest post-season basketball games in city history Friday night.

The Knights outlasted No. 11 Lafayette 83-80 in double overtime in the 43rd District finals in front of a big crowd at Paul Laurence Dunbar.

"That's probably the craziest game I've ever played in," said Tanner Johnson, who led Lexington Catholic with 24 points,13 rebounds, three steals and three assists.

Knights Coach Brandon Salsman was as pumped (and exhausted) as his players after the thriller.

"Have you ever seen a game like this? I haven't seen Dunbar this packed since the days of Darnell Burton (in the early 1990s)," he said. "Two great teams going head-to-head, hitting shot after shot."

Lafayette's Jackson Davis, who finished with 32 points and 31 rebounds, hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with :02 left in regulation to tie it 61-61.

"I knew I had to get a shot off because the clock was ticking, so I pump-faked them to get the best shot I could," the 6-foot-8 senior said.

Lexington Catholic's Donovan Morris returned the favor at the end of the first overtime by swishing a three with :03 left to tie it 68-68.

Morris came up with the ball after a mad scramble and didn't hesitate to fire away.

"I knew there wasn't much time so I shot it. I just hoped it went in," he said.

Lafayette had a three-point lead early in the second extra period, but couldn't hold on. Lexington Catholic rallied one more time behind Michael Talbott to finally put the Generals away.

Talbott had 14 of his 16 points down the stretch, including eight of 10 free throws. Talbott, the tournament MVP, said he was "a little worried" after Davis' three and when the Knights fell behind in overtime.

"But we kept fighting back," he said. "I love my team so much for it."

Jarod Griffin also had 16 points for Lexington Catholic, including four threes. The junior left-hander hurt his shooting wrist when he took a hard fall late in the game and had to sit down.

"I was pretty worried when Jarod went out, but other guys stepped up," Johnson said.

Morris, a sophomore, came in for Griffin and wound up hitting the shot of his life.

"Our kids fought hard down to the wire," Salsman said. "So did Lafayette's.

"And Jackson Davis was unbelievable."

Lafayette Coach Mike Mendenhall wasn't surprised by Davis' play. "That's what Mr. Basketballs do," he said.

Lance Blakley added 15 points for the Generals, and Lucky Jackson came off the bench to get 13 points and five assists. Harrison Lane hit three threes for nine points.

Mendenhall praised his team's grit.

"The kids persevered and found a way to get into overtime, and we just came up a little short," he said.

"The good news is, we get a chance to play again."

Lexington Catholic and Lafayette both advance to the 11th Region tournament in Frankfort next week.

The tournament draw is Saturday morning.

LEXINGTON CATHOLIC (19-11) — Johnson 24, Griffin 16, Talbott 16, Ryan 9, Dence 9, Morris 9.

LAFAYETTE (18-10) — Davis 32, Blakley 15, Jackson 13, Hall 2, Robinson 2, Carpenter 7, Lane 9.

Lexington Catholic 21 11 15 14 7 15 — 83

Lafayette 14 18 11 18 7 12 — 80

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.

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