Before Lafayette's season opener against Paul Laurence Dunbar on Tuesday night, former Generals great Billy Ray Lickert passed the torch — OK, it was a keepsake basketball — to current Generals great Jackson Davis.
Lickert, who led Lafayette to the 1957 state title and was Mr. Basketball that year, was the school's all-time leading scorer until Davis eclipsed him late last season with his 1,619th point.
Davis called last night's ceremony "awesome," and then the 6-foot-9 senior went out and had an awesome performance in leading Lafayette to an 85-62 victory.
Davis, playing with his customary all-out hustle, had 32 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
"I think my team was definitely ready for this," Jackson said, deflecting attention from his stuffed stat line.
"We've been going at each other hard in practice for a couple months now, and when our game was canceled last Friday (against defending state champ Madison Central), it fired us up even more to go out and give it all we've got."
Jackson got good support from senior point guard Dequise Robinson (18 points, four assists, four steals), sophomore Dontavion "Lucky" Jackson (15 points, four steals) and senior Lance Blakley (13 points, eight rebounds, three assists).
But as Lafayette Coach Mike Mendenhall III pointed out, Jackson was the workhorse early. "He carried us that first half when our younger guys had some first-game jitters and were feeling their way, figuring out what district play is all about."
Davis has expanded his game this season to play out on the floor more, and Dunbar had trouble keeping him from attacking the basket and from handling him when he posted up.
"He looked great tonight," Dunbar Coach Scott Chalk said. "He played a little more under control than he did last year."
Davis led a Lafayette two-man parade to the foul line. He hit 12-of-18 free throws. Robinson made 10-of-14.
Jackson, a standout receiver in football who's rounding into basketball shape, had 13 of his 15 points in the second half.
Dunbar, led by sophomore Darius Williams, stayed close until Lafayette started pulling away midway through the third quarter. Donnie Lewis' three-pointer cut the Generals' lead to 45-42, but the hosts were up 58-48 going into the fourth quarter.
Lafayette's defense forced turnovers and created transition baskets as the gap widened down the stretch.
Williams led Dunbar with 19 points and seven rebounds. P.J. Corrio had 11 points and six rebounds, and Jeremy Ward worked his way to 10 points inside.
Williams and Lewis are the only Bulldogs with much varsity experience, "so the rest of them have got a lot to learn," Chalk said.
Mendenhall wants his Generals to learn a few things, too. That's why he invited Lickert to speak to his team in practice.
"We want these guys to know what kind of tradition Lafayette has, and to appreciate it," Mendenhall said.
Having Davis channel Lickert would be nice, too.
PAUL DUNBAR (0-2) — Williams 19, Lewis 9. Corrio 11, Ward 10, Hollingsworth 5, V.Clark 2, Black 2, Baker 2, K.Clark 2.
LAFAYETTE (1-0) — Davis 32, Robinson 18, Blakley 13, Jackson 15, Lane 4, R.Jenkins 3.
Dunbar 15 19 14 14—62
Lafayette 22 14 22 27—85