Kiara Pankins eclipsed the 2,000 point mark for her career in the third quarter, becoming the first Lafayette girl to accomplish that feat. But her biggest two points came in the final period.
The Lafayette senior got free for a layup with three seconds left in regulation to send the Generals into overtime, where they overcame Paul Laurence Dunbar, 73-63. She finished with 29 points, 12 rebounds and three steals.
It was Lafayette’s 33rd consecutive victory over a 43rd District opponent, a streak that began with a 44-34 win at Lexington Catholic on Jan. 14, 2014. Lafayette’s last district loss? At home against Dunbar on Jan. 11 of that year.
For a while Monday night, it looked like the Bulldogs would bookend that streak. They held a 12-point advantage at halftime and went ahead, 59-57, on a baseline jumper by Autumn Herriford with 12.1 seconds remaining.
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At halftime, Lafayette Coach Allison Denton asked her team if they wanted that streak to end.
“Every single one of said they didn’t want to, and so this is what you have,” Denton said. “I told ’em when we went into overtime, ‘Win or lose this game, the character you just showed right now is a check for me. Because that’s character. I was proud of them.”
Pankins scored 19 points in the second half, often doing so with more than one defender in the area.
“I think it’s a pretty big compliment to have two or three people on me,” Pankins said. “But I expect that of myself and to put shots in like that (game-tying basket).”
Both teams entered with 3-0 district records. Dunbar will get a chance to knock off Lafayette next Tuesday and even those again; otherwise, the Generals likely will pick up their fifth regular-season district title.
“We just want to win every game that we play,” Denton said. “That’s what we compete for. We didn’t just want to beat them; we wanted to keep our streak going.”
Mashayla Cecil led Dunbar with 20 points and six assists. Terri Abram had 16 points for Lafayette.
Lafayette 73, Paul Laurence Dunbar 63 (OT)
Dunbar (10-7) — Herriford 18, P. Humphrey 12, Cecil 20, Fullwood 8, Cotton 3, Franklin 2.
Lafayette (12-5) — DeBilzan 8, Bennett 11, Pankins 29, Abram 16, Goff 3, Garr-Carter 6.