Lafayette girls' basketball coach Allison Denton said that whenever junior left-hander Sarah Martin passes up an open shot, "she's in trouble."
When Martin does take an open shot, it's the other team that's in trouble. Just ask Lexington Christian Academy.
Martin hit a pair of high-arching three-pointers in the closing minutes to key a 14-0 run that rallied the host Generals past LCA 43-34 in the 43rd District semifinals Tuesday night.
"I have to shoot for my team; that's what I do, that's my role," said Martin, who led the winners with 12 points, all of them coming on threes.
Martin's third three tied the score at 34 with 2:12 left. On Lafayette's next possession, Martin and Kenyale Demus misfired on threes, but the Generals got the long rebounds. Given another try, Martin nailed a three to put her team ahead 37-34.
The Generals then turned things over to senior point guard Jeriana Gillespie, who made six of six free throws to finish off LCA. Gillespie finished with nine points. Shomari Kendrick had eight points and eight rebounds.
The victory puts Lafayette in Friday's district finals and earns the Generals their first trip to the region since 2006.
After LCA eliminated Lafayette from the district for the second year in a row last February, Denton said, she and her staff were "so disgusted" that they pledged it wouldn't happen in 2011.
"We made that statement, and we stuck to it," she said.
LCA almost made the Generals suffer again. After losing to Lafayette by 22 points last month, Eagles Coach Jason Seamands decided to play stall ball to force Lafayette to play man-to-man defense.
The strategy worked. LCA rallied from a 20-14 halftime hole to take a 34-29 lead with just more than two minutes left.
Kelli Rinehart (13 points) and Kristen Jacob (eight points) worked in the paint to lead the Eagles.
But everything fell apart after that. Turnovers, missed shots and unlucky bounces denied LCA a chance at defending its district title.
"This one really hurts because everything was set up perfect when it was 34-29," Seamands said. "But we did not execute the last two minutes.
"If only it had been a 30-minute game."
Denton, meanwhile, said she was proud of the way her team adapted to the pace and strategy imposed by LCA.
"They made us do something we don't like to do, and I am absolutely thrilled with the character my girls showed in finding a way to win."
LEXINGTON CHRISTIAN (17-11) — Rinehart 6-13 1-2 13, Jacob 4-9 0-0 8, Bundy 2-8 0-0 4, Evans 3-5 0-0 6, Mitchuson 1-2 0-0 3, Cox 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-38 1-2 34.
LAFAYETTE (17-13) — Martin 4-10 0-0 12, Gillespie 1-3 7-8 9, Justice 3-5 0-1 7, Kendrick 3-7 2-4 8, Mynear 1-4 0-0 2, Cooley 0-0 5-6 5, Demus 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 12-32 14-19 43.
Lex. Christian 4 10 12 8—34
Lafayette 6 14 4 19—43