The way to stop Lamont Johnson on Friday night was to get him in foul trouble.
And so it happened that, with Johnson out of the game, Bryan Station pulled away from visiting Paul Laurence Dunbar to score a 54-39 victory in the first round of the Defenders of the Station Invitational.
James Evans led a balanced Bryan Station attack with 14 points and nine rebounds. Phillip Barner and Darius Waide each added 10 points. The Defenders led 23-20 at halftime.
"We've got to rotate the ball, pass the ball around and play team ball," said Evans, a 6-foot-6 junior. "We got ... in the locker room, talked about it, and we just came out and showed up."
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Johnson, son of former University of Kentucky standout Larry Johnson, finished with 21 points and nine rebounds despite sitting out most of the second half. Bryce With added 11 points and seven boards for the Bulldogs (1-6).
"We've got to get a lot better," said Champ Ligon Jr., coach of the Defenders (3-3). "I'm really proud of the way the guys responded in the fourth quarter, when Dunbar had made a run at us in the third quarter and kind of kept the pressure on us. ... Once they cut (the lead) to one, the guys really responded well."
Dunbar led 8-5 early, but an 11-0 run that spanned the first two quarters put Bryan Station ahead to stay.
Johnson, a 6-3 junior, kept Dunbar in the game by scoring 16 first-half points, including all 12 of the Bulldogs' second-quarter points.
Back-to-back threes by Johnson and Clay Coyle pulled Dunbar to within a point, 27-26, in the third quarter.
But Johnson picked up his third and fourth fouls in a span of 19 seconds. He went to the bench with 3:37 left in the third, not to return until 5:43 remained in the game.
In his absence, Bryan Station outscored the Bulldogs 14-6 to lead 41-32. Six different players scored during that stretch, capped by an Evans dunk.
Johnson's return lasted less than two minutes. He fouled out with 3:53 left.
"During the first half, he dominated the game," Ligon said. "We really made it a point at halftime to talk about him and taking it at him on the offensive end, and doing a better job on him on the defensive end."
Although Johnson shot 7-for-12 from the field, making both of his three-point tries, Dunbar shot 28.6 percent (14-for-49). Bryan Station, 32 percent at the half, improved to 56.5 the rest of the way, finishing 43.8 (21-for-48) overall.
"I thought the kids played well for three quarters," said Carl "Redd" Hutchinson, coach of the Defenders. "Having a young basketball team, we have to learn to put four quarters together."
The Defenders outrebounded Dunbar 37-28 and outscored the Dogs 32-14 in the paint. Joe Fain and Demarcus Wells scored six points each to help Bryan Station to an 18-2 advantage in points off the bench.
"As long as the kids play hard, you can accept it whether it's a win or a loss or whatever," Hutchinson said. "Those guys are playing hard, and that's all I can ask for."
Male 68, Danville 55: In the opener, D'Carlo Hayes scored 21 points and Tony Horne added 14 points and eight rebounds to carry the Bulldogs (2-3).
Danville (1-4) got 20 points from Duran Elmore, while Demarcus Walton had 12 points and nine boards.
Jeffersontown 77, Clay County 63: The Chargers jumped out to a 23-10 lead after a quarter and rolled past Clay County. Thomas Jackson scored 33 points for Jeffersontown, hitting 15 of his 20 free-throw attempts.
Desmond Dorsey and Domonique Smith each added 10 points for the Chargers, who improved to 7-0.
Clay County (4-2) got 16 points from Codi Roberts. Matt Mitchell and DJ Wilson chipped in with 15 apiece.
Fern Creek 58, Henry Clay 54: The Tigers' bench came up big, outscoring the Henry Clay reserves 28-3. Senior Vincent Irvin had 16 points, and eight-grader Quentin Snyder had nine as Fern Creek upped its record to 5-1.
Senior starter Orlando Rutledge had a game-high 17 points and nine rebounds for the winners, while Jarrell Moore added eight assists and five points.
Marquel Johnson led Henry Clay (1-5) with 16 points. Daniel Kiesling added 14 points and eight boards before fouling out.
Bryan Station 54, Paul Dunbar 39
Paul Dunbar (1-6) — Blincoe 2, Coyle 3, With 11, Johnson 21, Farrell 2.
Bryan Station (3-3) — Demus 2, Waide 10, Wells 6, Barner 10, Evans 14, Fain 6, Renfro 2, Ball 4.
Paul Dunbar 8 12 12 7—39
Bryan Station 12 11 12 19—54
Fern Creek 58, Henry Clay 54
Fern Creek (5-1) — Hobbs 2, Snyder 9, Moore 5, Robinson 4, Smith 4, Irvin 16, Rutledge 17, Robertson 1.
Henry Clay (1-5) — Stewart 8, Prewitt 2, Nichols 6, Hellard 1, Johnson 16, Kimball 7, Kiesling 14.
Fern Creek 9 16 11 22—58
Henry Clay 18 10 8 18—54
Jeffersontown 77, Clay Co. 63
Clay Co. (4-2) — Wilson 15, Roberts 16, Mitchell 15, Reed 10, Gay 7.
Jeffersontown (7-0) — Jackson 33, Dorsey 10, Porter 2, Cross 2, T. Jackson 6, Kennedy 7, Hagan 3, D. Jackson 2, Smith 10, Russell 2.
Clay Co. 10 15 17 21—63
Jeffersontown 23 20 13 21—77
Male 68, Danville 55
Danville (1-4) — Elmore 20, Taylor 9, Walton 12, Meckes 3, Burgess 3, Dunn 6, Goodman 2.
Male (2-3) — Hayes 21, Horne 14, Glenn 6, Pillischafske 7, Duncan 8, Moore 4, Way 4, Logan 4.
Danville 16 4 15 20—55
Male 17 11 22 18—68