Lexington Catholic's girls had a near-defeat experience in the 43rd District semifinals Wednesday night, but they escaped with a 47-44 victory to stay alive in the playoffs.
The No. 17 Knights routed Lexington Christian Academy twice (by 34 and 26 points) in the regular season, but the tournament rematch was a whole 'nother ball game.
Hot-shooting LCA led through the first three quarters before Lexington Catholic scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter to go ahead 43-36 with less than three minutes left.
But LCA wasn't finished.
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The Eagles reeled off eight consecutive points, capped by two free throws by Kelli Mitchuson that gave them a 44-43 lead with 1:11 left.
Alex Botkin then stepped up for Lexington Catholic.
The 6-foot senior twisted her right ankle with 3:27 left, but after a short rest she went to Coach Chelsea Chowning and asked to go back in.
"This could've been my last game, so I probably could've been shot and I still would've tried to get out there and play," Botkin said.
Inside the final minute, she got the ball in the low post and muscled up a shot. It missed, but she grabbed the rebound and was fouled trying for a put-back.
Botkin hit both free throws to put the Knights up 45-44 with 53 seconds left.
On the defensive end, Botkin delivered, too, getting a steal that led to a run-out layup by Emily Johns to make it 47-44 with 18 seconds left.
"Alex Botkin's mentality at the end of the game was huge," Chowning said.
LCA still had enough time to get the ball to sophomore Katelin Bundy, who was 3-for-3 on three-pointers. But Lexington Catholic's defense didn't give her any space, and she wound up missing an off-balance contested three as time expired.
Botkin finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and four steals. Elizabeth Walton had 12 points and five rebounds, and Bonnie Rhule added seven points as Lexington Catholic notched its 20th win.
The Knights play No. 14 Paul Laurence Dunbar in Friday night's finals. Both teams will advance to the 11th Region tournament.
Chowning said she warned her players that LCA would give them a battle, but it was still a shock when the Eagles shot 73 percent in the first half and led 24-20.
LCA shot 54 percent for the game but committed 22 turnovers that the Knights converted into 29 points.
Bundy led the Eagles with 16 points. Kristen Jacob had 13 points and five rebounds. Kristin Rinehart had seven points and seven rebounds. Mitchuson had eight points and seven assists.
"I'm so disappointed for our seniors," LCA Coach Jason Seamands said. "We haven't had a great year, but they've had a great career.
"The last three weeks this group has been so coachable and so much fun to be around ... and we came so close to getting to the region."
LEXINGTON CHRISTIAN (12-18) — Jacob 5-8 3-4 13, Bundy 5-9 3-3 16, Hartley 0-1 0-0 0, Rinehart 3-5 0-0 7, Mitchuson 2-5 2-3 8. Totals 1-28 8-10 44.
LEXINGTON CATHOLIC (20-10) — Botkin 4-8 5-6 13, Johns 4-11 0-0 8, Walton 4-14 2-2 12, Rhule 2-4 1-2 7, Wilson 1-9 2-2 4, Browning 0-3 0-0 0, Blake 1-2 0-0 3, Pippen 0-2 0-0 0, Cawood 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-4 10-12 47.
Lexington Christian 17 7 12 8—44
Lexington Catholic 8 12 12 15—47