The first few weeks of the season have been bah-humbug basketball for Paul Laurence Dunbar and Lexington Christian Academy, whose boys' teams were a combined 2-7 going into their district clash Tuesday night.
Dunbar finally got some holiday cheer by beating the host Eagles 67-63 for its first victory this season. Darius Williams, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, delivered the goods: 19 points (13 of 14 free throws) and five rebounds.
"It was very important to finally get a win," Williams said. "We're young and don't have much experience, but we focused better tonight. We're learning."
Dunbar Coach Scott Chalk seconded that opinion.
Never miss a local story.
"Because we are so inexperienced, we've had trouble paying attention to each other and carrying out assignments," he said. "We did a lot better job of that tonight."
Williams was expected to be one of the lead Bulldogs this season. He saw limited action as a freshman, but followed it up with a strong summer of AAU ball with the Louisville Magic.
"Darius is definitely ready for this," Chalk said. "We're counting on him."
The Bulldogs also got solid play from Taveion Hollingsworth, a steady 6-0 freshman, who had 12 points and was 6-for-6 from the foul line.
"He has a great calmness and demeanor, and handles the pressure," Chalk said.
Troy Black had 10 points off the bench. Senior point guard Donnie Lewis contributed six points, five rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Dunbar looked like it was in for an easy night when it raced to a 15-2 lead. LCA misfired on nine of its first 10 shots, all four of its free throws, and had six turnovers in the first seven minutes.
But the Eagles battled back, relying on the inside combination of Michael Young and Matt Rose.
Young, a 6-5 senior, had 20 points and nine rebounds. Rose, a nimble 6-6 junior, had 19 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.
Trevor Hill, a sophomore guard, was strong going to the rim and had 15 points.
LCA rallied to take the lead early in the second half. Its last lead was 49-48 on Brad Calipari's two free throws. But Dunbar went back in front and stayed there by going 10-for-10 from the foul line in the last four minutes.
LCA Coach Brad Carter pointed to his team's 16 turnovers and 3-for-13 three-point shooting as the Eagles' biggest flaws Tuesday night.
"I'm really excited the way (Young and Rose) are playing," he said. "We just need to get our guards playing better. We've got so many of them, they're in and out so it's tough for them to get their rhythm. But we're trying to find the right rotation and combinations."
LCA, which had high hopes going into the season, dropped to 2-5. Carter is accentuating the positive, though.
"Scott County's the only team that's blown us out," he said. "I just keep telling our guys to keep plugging until February. We're making small improvements each game, and we've got to keep moving forward."
Paul Dunbar 67, Lexington Christian 63
PAUL DUNBAR (1-3)—Williams 19, Lewis 6, Corio 6, Hollingsworth 12, Black 10, Means 5, Davis 4, Penny 5.
LEXINGTON CHRISTIAN (2-5)—M.Rose 19, Young 20, Hill 15, Trimble 3, Calipari 2, Schacht 1, Nighbert 3.
Paul Dunbar 15 15 11 26—67
LCA 4 23 13 23—63