Behind a clutch performance from junior guard Mashayla Cecil, Dunbar knocked off visiting Lafayette 57-51 on Tuesday night in girls’ basketball, snapping the Generals’ 33-game district win streak. It was Lafayette’s first 43rd District loss in over two years, when Dunbar beat the Generals on Jan. 14, 2014. The Bulldogs nearly halted the Generals’ streak last week, taking a 12-point lead on the road but eventually falling 73-63 in overtime.
Lindi DeBilzan gave Lafayette a 51-50 lead with just over a minute to play when she converted an and-one after being fouled on a layup. Cecil dribbled into the frontcourt on the next possession, pulled up and nailed a three-pointer with 44 seconds left. The Generals couldn’t find the bucket the rest of the way and Dunbar completed the upset for their 12th win of the year, one more than it had all of last season.
Cecil’s heroics kept the Bulldogs within striking distance late in the first half as Lafayette threatened to pull away. The Generals led 27-21 when Cecil took over, driving for a fast-break layup then nailing a pull-up jumper in the paint. She followed with a steal and another fast-break layup, scoring the Bulldogs’ final six points to end the half and cutting the Lafayette lead to 29-27. In the third quarter, her three-pointer completed a 15-2 run bridging the halves and gave Dunbar a 38-33 lead.
Cecil finished with a game-high 19 points along with four assists and three steals. Autumn Herriford added 14 points for Dunbar. Herriford said when she saw Cecil sink the go-ahead three for the 51-50 lead she knew it was over.
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“That was just such an exciting moment. When she hit that I think we knew we had this thing won finally and we weren’t looking back,” she said. “There was definitely a revenge factor going on tonight. We were ready to get them back and end their streak. I think we were just tired of hearing how good Lafayette was, we wanted to show that we’re better.”
Cecil said the team felt like a weight was lifted after the final buzzer sounded.
“Coach always tells us to just never give up, never stop fighting,” she said. “When I got the ball at the end I knew my team needed me and I just knocked it down. It was such a big relief when it was over.”
Dunbar Coach Nick Runyon said the heady play of both Cecil and Herriford has been the driving factor behind the program’s turnaround after last year’s struggles.
“Mashayla is clutch, her and Autumn both. There’s not anybody else in our region that I’d want to have the ball at the end of a game other than those two,” he said. “They’re great players, they think on their feet quickly and it’s just been a great pleasure to coach them.”
Now that the Bulldogs have proven they can go toe-to-toe with the best teams in the district, they’re eyeing more than just a winning record.
“Now that we’ve met one of our big goals of the season, to compete in the district and knock off Lafayette, I think we’re really looking to reach the next level and make a run in the postseason,” Herriford said.
Kiara Pankins and DeBilzan led Lafayette with 14 points each. Pankins, the reigning Lexington City Player of the Year, was hampered by early foul trouble but turned it on late in the fourth quarter, scoring five straight points to tie the game at 48-all.