Lafayette came up one victory shy of the girls' 11th Region basketball title last year — they lost to Madison Central in the finals -— and that has served as motivation for the Generals this season.
Coach Allison Denton said her team is on a mission to get to the Sweet Sixteen, and she said there's no secret what it will take for them to accomplish that mission.
"It's going to be our defense. I have a lot of confidence in our scoring. But it's going to be our intensity on defense, creating problems for the other team and creating easy buckets for ourselves, that's going to be big."
No. 4 Franklin County, which hasn't been to the state tournament since 1980, and No. 5 Lafayette, which hasn't won the region since 1984, are the favorites to cut down the nets in the Frankfort Convention Center at the end of the week.
If they win their first-round games, they will clash in the region semifinals. Lafayette beat the Flyers 66-55 in the semifinals last year, and 58-56 early this season.
Lafayette is led in scoring by its backcourt, junior Dee Givens (16 ppg) and freshman Kiara Pankins (12 ppg). The Generals' have a strong inside duo in 6-0 senior Sarah Cooley and 6-3 junior Ashanti Thomas, who average 20 points and 17 rebounds between them.
Givens is a terror on defense. She had seven steals in Lafayette's win over Paul Laurence Dunbar in the district finals.
Franklin County is relatively young, including sophomores Malaka Frank and Dasia Kilbourne, and freshman Rebecca Cook, each of whom average between 10 and 12 points a game. Senior Nannilena White averages 11 points.
Flyers Coach Joey Thacker said he hopes his team, which doesn't have much depth, isn't worn down mentally.
"But I was pleased with what I saw in the district. Our kids have played on some big stages, and I think they'll be ready to go this week."
Henry Clay Coach Eric Sanford, whose team beat Scott County to win its district title, likes the way his team is playing: "I think we're peaking at the right time. We just want to take what we did in the district into the region."
The Blue Devils, led by sophomore T'Laya Lyvers, are seeking their first region title since 2008.