The only wayLafayette, ranked 14th in the state, could have shot better against Franklin County in the first half Wednesday night would have been if Steph Curry suited up for the Generals.
Then again, the NBA star might have hurt Lafayette’s chemistry and prevented the Generals from rolling to a 76-42 win over the Flyers to open the first round of the boys’ 11th Region high school basketball tournament in Eastern Kentucky University’s Alumni Coliseum on Wednesday night.
The Generals were 10-for-14 from behind the three-point line in the first half, managing to shoot a better percentage from long range (71.4 percent) than they did from the floor (21 for 30, or 70 percent) in the first half .
Ten Generals scored, including four in double digits. Harrison Lane led the way with 13 points while Eric Powell and Evan Dreux came away with 12 apiece. Ross Jenkins, the only Lafayette starter who didn’t attempt a three, had 11 points and a game-best eight rebounds.
Lane ended the first half a perfect 4 for 4, connecting on three straight three-pointers and stealing an inbound pass and hitting a floater as time expired in the second quarter.
“I knew there were like four or five seconds and that they would try to get it out quick,” Lane said. “I found Diablo (Stewart) cause I knew that’s probably where they were going and jumped it.”
Lane said it was fun getting into the sort of rhythm Lafayette did early in the game.
“The way the ball was moving, everybody was scoring. That’s all you want,” Lane said. The ball definitely found its way around the court; the Generals ended with more assists (18) than Franklin County did made field goals (14).
Lafayette will be a tough out for any of the teams rated above it in the field should it continue to start games the way it did on Wednesday. That sort of marksmanship is what helped it upset then-No. 1 Mercer County in February. the Generals were 12-for-23 from beyond the arc in that contest.
The Generals cooled down considerably in the second half, hitting 5 for 24 and 0 for 7 from behind the line. Coach Mike Mendenhall attributed that to “teenagers going into the half up 30 points.” The Generals relaxed coming out of the locker room, something Mendenhall said teams in this tournament can’t get away with.
The only other downside coming out of the game for Lafayette was a wrist injury suffered by junior guard Chris Wharton. He took a hard fall after a foul at the basket in the closing minutes of the second quarter, landing on his wrist and knocking out one of his teeth. Doctors were able to put his tooth back in but discovered a small fracture in his wrist after the game. The junior will have to sit out the rest of the season.
Franklin County can take solace in the fact that it will return all but three of its players, including Stewart, its leading scorer who will be a sophomore. Flyers Coach Tony Wise said that was the first time this season his young team played like a bunch of underclassmen. Matching up against a battle-tested group like Lafayette’s put Franklin County in a tough spot before the game even tipped.
“They came out and did what they were supposed to do. They put us on the ropes early and keep punching,” Wise said. “There’s one thing that we can’t teach ’em and that’s experience, and they got a big dose of that tonight.”
Scott County beats hometown favorite
Scott County’s top four scorers are all underclassmen. Its top two are freshmen. But in true do-or-die fashion, it was senior Clem Damron who stepped up as the Cardinals held on for a 71-67 win over Madison Central.
Damron, the only player Scott County will lose to graduation this year, had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Cardinals, who never trailed. He hit three of four shots from behind the three-point line before fouling out with 2:08 left to play, and scored 10 points more than his season average.
Madison Central went on a 9-4 run, capped by a tip-in from Isaiah Cozart, after Damron’s exit to get to within 68-65 with 40 seconds remaining. Cozart missed an and-one free throw, but the Indians’ Terique Miller came away with the rebound. He swung it to Grant Brockman, who was wide open from the corner but couldn’t connect on an off-balance shot.
Michael Moreno grabbed the rebound for Scott County and threw it ahead to Bryce Long to put the Cards up 70-65 with 29 seconds to go. John Williams would hit a pair of free throws on Central’s next possession to make it 70-67 with 13 seconds left. Cam Fluker made one of two free throws at the end for Scott County, which kept the Indians from scoring inside the final seconds.
“That’s what high school basketball is all about,” Scott County Coach Billy Hicks said. “The sad thing is somebody had to lose. There’s no losers in that ball game tonight. Whoever came out with the short stick score-wise, they’re not losers because those kids battled.”
Williams had a game-high 21 points and nine rebounds for Madison Central. Miller had 18 points and seven rebounds while Cozart, a freshman, had seven points and 13 rebounds.
Lafayette 76, Franklin County 42
Lafayette (20-10) — Lane 13, R. Jenkins 11, Powell 12, J. Jenkins 7, Wharton 9, Greenup 1, Dreux 12, Guilfoil 1, Carpenter 3, Watkins 7.
Franklin Co. (15-14) — Bailey 1, Valentine 5, Stewart 14, Kennedy 16, Stivers 2, Dotson 2, Lee 2.
Scott County 71, Madison Central 67
Scott Co. (28-5) — Moreno 14, Long 13, Robb 17, Covington 8, Fluker 1, Damron 18.
Madison Central (20-12) — Williams 21, Cozart 7, Miller 18, Begley 12, Brockman 9.
Boys’ 11th Region
Thursday: Paul Laurence Dunbar (26-6) vs. Madison Southern (18-14), 6:30 p.m.; Henry Clay (27-5) vs. Woodford County (14-16), 8:15 p.m.
Saturday: Lafayette (20-10) vs. Scott County (27-5), 1:30 p.m.; Thursday’s winners, 3:15 p.m.