The future looks promising for Lafayette girls' basketball, and the here-and-now holds lots of potential, too.
Allison Denton's young Generals (no seniors on their roster) showed that by beating No. 25 Paul Laurence Dunbar 69-56 on Wednesday night.
Playing its sharpest half of the season, Lafayette rolled to a 42-20 lead on the Bulldogs, with Dee Givens and Sarah Cooley leading the blitz.
Givens, a 5-foot-11 sophomore, had 10 points, five steals, three rebounds and three steals. Cooley, a 6-0 junior, had 10 points and seven rebounds in the flurry.
"The best full half of team basketball we've played all season," Denton said.
It's a good thing Lafayette built a big lead because most of it evaporated in the fourth quarter.
With Shakeema Jackson firing in three-pointers, the host Bulldogs pulled to within eight points down the stretch. The Generals stemmed the comeback by hitting their free throws in the closing minutes.
Cooley finished the night with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Givens had 14 points, seven steals, five assists and four rebounds.
Lafayette got solid play from 6-3 sophomore Ashanti Thomas (12 points, eight rebounds), eighth-grader Kiara Pankins (12 points, eight rebounds) and junior Ken'yale Demus (nine points).
Junior Megum Nagahiro ran the point as the Generals avenged a 56-47 loss to Dunbar a few weeks ago.
Denton accented the positives of the first half rather than her team's fourth-quarter struggles. "We played to our strength in the first half, going inside to our big girls," she said. "And I thought our defense was better."
Denton said Lafayette got into trouble when Dunbar turned up its defensive intensity and forced the Generals into taking ill-advised shots.
"The only thing holding us back from being as good as we can be is our decision-making," Denton said.
"When we're up 20 and taking shots we shouldn't be taking, that's our youth."
Jackson led Dunbar with 22 points, including 6-for-18 three-point shooting.
Kierra Muhammad, Jordin Fender and Brooke Todd had eight points apiece. Fender also had six assists, and Todd six rebounds.
Lafayette can earn the top seed in the 43rd District tournament if it beats Lexington Catholic, Lexington Christian and Tates Creek in the next two weeks.
LAFAYETTE 69, PAUL DUNBAR 56
LAFAYETTE (11-9) — Givens 14, Cooley 18, Thomas 12, Pankins 12, K.Demus 9, Nagahiro 2, S.Demus 2.
PAUL DUNBAR (9-9) — Muhammad 8, Jackson 22, Fender 8, Ighodaro 2, Todd 8, Pollard 6, Edwards 2.
Lafayette 16 26 15 12—69
Paul Dunbar 10 10 15 21—56