Lexington Catholic and Lexington Christian on Friday night played the most-entertaining high school basketball game that’s been played in Lexington this season. It was, unfortunately but rightfully, overshadowed by a startling injury to LexCath star Zan Payne in the game’s final moments.
Payne, a senior, was fouled on a drive to the basket with one second left and Lexington Catholic trailing 64-62. He landed awkwardly and appeared to suffer an injury to his right leg. Athletic trainers wrapped Payne’s leg in a support and he was helped off the court by a trainer and head coach Brandon Salsman following several minutes of evaluation.
It was later determined that Payne suffered season-ending ligament damage in his right leg, but the exact injury wasn’t known as of Saturday morning. Payne ends his Lexington Catholic career with more than 1,200 points scored and as a top-five rebounder in school history.
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Patrick Geohegan, a junior who up to that point had not entered the game, came off the bench and hit both free throws in Payne’s absence to force an overtime period, out of which Catholic emerged with a 76-73 victory.
Ben Johnson hit a go-ahead three-pointer — his seventh make in the game — with 18 seconds left and Javen Hardin hit his first two free-throw attempts of the game with three seconds left to put the Knights up three. Off those makes, LCA successfully inbounded the ball to the opposite three-point line and called a timeout with 1.8 seconds left. The Eagles got an open look from three off the timeout play, but Carter Hendricksen’s tying attempt at the horn went long.
“Inspiring,” Salsman said of his team’s performance down the stretch. “I was so proud of our team’s effort last night for the whole game but especially when Zan went down. Too many cliches are used in sports but my guys are truly a family and they came together and fought for him. I was so proud to be along for the ride. One of the best games I have seen a Catholic team play in my 20-plus years on the sidelines.”
Payne is the son of Kenny Payne, the former University of Louisville basketball star who now is an assistant coach for the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team. Payne in the past has said that he would prefer to earn a scholarship and play for a Division I program elsewhere but had not ruled out the possibility of walking on for the Wildcats in the future.
The win gave Catholic, the No. 11 team in the latest edition of Dave Cantrall’s Rating the State, a sweep of No. 7 LCA in the regular season as well as sole possession of the No. 2 seed in the 43rd District tournament. It forced Lexington Christian into the No. 3 seed regardless of its result at Lafayette on Tuesday night —LCA could have earned the top seed with a win over Catholic and Lafayette — and means the two will meet in the semifinals round of that tournament in two weeks. Lafayette became the regular-season district champion because of the result.
Johnson, who finished 7-for-9 from beyond the arc, led Catholic (16-8) with 25 points. Keegan Bailey had 18 points and was also blistering from three-point range at 6-for-9 shooting.
Kyle Rode, a junior, had 25 points and seven rebounds to lead the Eagles (20-7). Hendricksen had 23 points and eight rebounds. LCA shot 51.1 percent for the game and 12-for-23 from beyond the arc.
Catholic jumped out to a 5-0 lead to begin the game but from that moment no team had a margin larger than three points throughout the night. Both teams were efficient from the field — the Knights finished 14 of 25 from behind the three-point line and shot 48.1 percent overall for the game, while LCA was 12-for-23 from beyond the arc and shot 51.1 percent as a unit. LexCath outrebounded the Eagles, 31-26, and had five more assists, 19-14, than the host. LCA committed six turnovers to Catholic’s nine, seven of which were steals by the Eagles.
Trinity 75, Lafayette 50: All five Shamrocks starters hit double-figure scoring as No. 4 Trinity jumped out to a 44-22 halftime lead and coasted past No. 9 Lafayette in Lexington. Jay Scrubb led the Shamrocks, who shot 57 percent from the field, with 18 points. Jameel Hardaway sank all five of his shots for 11 points. Trinity hit 12 of 26 from the perimeter and outrebounded Lafayette 33-21.
The Generals were hot from the arc as well, knocking down nine of 20 three-pointers. Eric Powell led Lafayette with 10 points. He was the only double-figure scorer for the Generals.
Covington Catholic 81, Dixie Heights 37: Senior guard CJ Fredrick was red-hot on Friday as No. 2 Covington Catholic built a 27-5 first-quarter lead and rolled at home. Fredrick, a University of Iowa signee, poured in 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting including a 6-for-7 clip from three-point range. He dished out a team-high five of the Colonels’ 21 assists. Aiden Ruthsatz and Jake Walter added 13 points each in the win, which was CovCath’s 11th straight.
Lafayette 53, Lexington Christian 38: Four Generals scored in double figures as visiting Lafayette won its third game in a row and twelfth in its last fourteen. Terri Abram led the way with 17 points while Caroline Bennett and Tekiya Garr-Carter had 13 apiece and Lindi DeBilzan added 10. Abram knocked down 4-of-6 three-pointers and had five of Lafayette’s 12 assists.
Bethany Selby provided more than half of Lexington Christian’s offense, scoring 21 points. The Eagles have dropped six of their last seven games.
Sacred Heart 76, Christian Academy of Louisville 29: Grace Berger scored a team-high 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting as the host Valkyries, ranked No. 1 in the Cantrall rankings, rolled. Berger, an Indiana University signee, also led Sacred Heart with six rebounds and three assists. The Valkyries shot 59 percent as a team and outrebounded the Centurions 36-17.
Scott County 93, Scott 69: Maaliya Owens and Peyton Riddle keyed the offense for the fourth-ranked Cardinals in a rout of the visiting Eagles. Ownes scored 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, going 6-for-11 from three-point range, and grabbed six rebounds. Riddle added 20 points and six rebounds, hitting four of eight shots from the perimeter. Scott County went 15 of 32 from the arc as a team.
Anna Clephane scored 28 points and Summer Secrist added 21 in the loss.