It was only fitting on the night that Lexington Catholic honored Danny Haney, his fingerprints were all over the Knights' 64-56 victory over Wayne County.
In Haney's 17 years as Lexington Catholic's boys' basketball coach, his trademark was a suffocating pressure defense that sooner or later cooked the best of teams.
That same pressure, trapping defense, now used by Haney's former player and assistant, Brandon Salsman, was the difference in the No. 5 Knights' win over No. 19 Wayne County Friday night.
"When I took this job I thought I'd learned from the best coach in the state, so there was no need to reinvent the wheel," Salsman said.
"We try to do the same things Danny did, and tonight our kids played the way Catholic has played for a very long time."
The Cardinals, the top-rated team in the 12th Region, came in averaging just a shade over 10 turnovers a game. Against the Knights, Wayne County had 24 turnovers that Lexington Catholic converted into 21 points.
"Way too many mistakes with the ball," Cards Coach Rodney Woods said. "Lexington Catholic caused a lot of it, but we feel we're a whole lot better than we played."
Despite its sloppy ball-handling, Wayne County stayed right with the Knights most of the way. They broke a 30-30 halftime time and edged ahead 35-32.
Then came one of Lexington Catholic's patented spurts, a 12-0 flurry fueled by senior Taylor Martin that gave the hosts a 44-35 lead with three minutes left in the third quarter.
Wayne County, sparked by Gavin Dunagan and Austin Shearer, made a few spirited runs, but could never quite catch up.
Martin wound up leading Lexington Catholic with 23 points and five rebounds. Scott Schuette had 12 points and five steals, and Seth Beck ham added 10 points, six assists and five rebounds.
Dunagan, Wayne County's all-time leading scorer and rebounder, had 22 points and 16 rebounds. Shearer had 16 points.
This was the eighth year in a row the Cards have lost to Lexington Catholic in the regular-season finale, but this was by far the closest of those games.
Both teams now head into district tournament play next week. Wayne County faces Monticello on Tuesday. Lexington Catholic will meet the winner of Lafayette-Paul Laurence Dunbar on Wednesday.
"We're in post-season mode," Salsman said. "We've got a few things to shore up. We've got to because we're in the toughest district in the state."
■ Before the game Lexington Catholic honored Haney, a former player, coach and administrator, by naming the basketball court in Bueter Gym after him.
Dozens of Haney's former players were on hand for the ceremony, along with Rev. Robert Bueter.
Haney coached the Knights for 17 years and won more than 400 games, including a Sweet Sixteen title in 2002. He left after that season for a coaching job in Florida.
He currently lives in Windemere, Fla., where he is vice-president of athletics for Meritas International Schools.
WAYNE COUNTY (26-3) — Dunagan 7-20 6-9 22, Shearer 7-11 1-1 16, K.Hopper 1-7 4-4 6, R.Hopper 2-3 0-0 5, Shelton 1-1 2-4 4, Gehring 0-0 3-4 3. Totals 18-42 16-22 56.
LEXINGTON CATHOLIC (22-6) — Martin 9-18 4-4 23, Schuette 5-17 1-3 12, Beckham 4-9 2-2 10, Woomer 2-4 0-0 5, Porter 1-3 1-2 3, Whitman 2-4 0-1 4, Keller 0-0 1-2 1, Floyd 3-4 0-0 6. Totals 26-59 9-14 64.
Wayne County 13 17 13 13—56
Lexington Catholic 19 11 16 18—64