FRANKFORT — Henry Clay Coach Daniel Brown sounded like Dick Vitale in full throat as he tried to describe the Blue Devils' stunning come-from-behind 64-63 victory over Lafayette in the 11th Region tournament Friday night.
"It's March Madness!" Brown shouted after watching his team rally from a 63-57 deficit with less than a minute left. "We watch it on ESPN, and it's the same thing in high school basketball.
"Kids do amazing things when the pressure's on."
Henry Clay senior star Jordan Green handled the ultimate pressure. With his team down 63-62 with :03 left, he made two free throws to give the Blue Devils the lead.
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No. 14 Lafayette failed to get off a shot after advancing the ball to midcourt and calling a timeout with :01.3 left. A turnover ended the Generals' season.
No. 16 Henry Clay, which lost to the Generals by double-digits three times during the regular season, got the "W" that mattered most.
"It's incredible," Green said. "This is a dream come true."
After upsetting No. 4 Scott County in the 42nd District finals, Henry Clay felled another favorite.
"I give all the credit to our young guys," Green said. "They've really come together."
The final minute of the first-round region clash was an unexpected seesaw for the fans in the Frankfort Convention Center, and even the players.
After Harrison Lane hit a three-pointer to give Lafayette a 63-57 lead with :52 left, Henry Clay's Jeremiah Tisdale said he "thought we were going to lose."
Lafayette senior star Jackson Davis had the same view: "I thought we had the game pretty much under control."
But the Generals lost their grip after Green drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key to make it 63-60.
"That's when the whole momentum swung," Davis said."
The Devils followed that with a steal on Lafayette's inbounds play, and Tisdale scored to cut the deficit to 63-62 with :23 left.
Tisdale then made what Brown called "the play of the game." He chased down Lafayette's Lance Blakley, back-tipped the ball and recovered it under the Generals' basket.
"I just went all out," Tisdale said. "I had to do something."
Green eventually got the ball in the left corner, drove the baseline and was fouled as he went up for a shot with :03 left. He cashed the two free throws to cap the improbable comeback.
Green finished with 20 points and seven rebounds.
Tisdale had 17 points and six rebounds. Campbell Setzer added 12 points, including three threes. Colby Barnes had 10 points and six rebounds.
Davis, who averaged 33 points and 17 rebounds in Lafayette's three wins over the Devils, had a tough night in front of several Division I coaches. The 6-8 senior got two early fouls, sat out the entire second quarter and had two points at halftime. He played the entire second half but never got on track.
He finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, two steals and two assists.
Did he feel the pressure of the college coaches watching him? "A little," he said. "But not really."
Dequise Robinson led Lafayette with 13 points. Lucky Jackson had 10 points off the bench. Lane and Blakley each had nine points.
Coach Mike Mendenhall III said Lafayette "just didn't make the plays at the end.
"In these tournaments, it comes down to the last two or three minutes, and you've got to make the plays. We didn't tonight."
Henry Clay 64, Lafayette 63
LAFAYETTE (18-12) — Robinson 13, Davis 11, Jackson 10, Blakley 9, Lane 9, Hall 3, Jenkins 5, Carpenter 3.
HENRY CLAY (18-12) — Green 20, J.Tisdale 17, Setzer 12, Barnes 10, I.Tisdale 2, Wilson 3.
Lafayette 18 19 15 11—63
Henry Clay 17 12 18 17—64