FRANKFORT — Lafayette is back in the girls' 11th Region championship game for the second year in a row, but the Generals aren't happy with just getting to the finals.
"We're more determined this year. We want to get to state this time," Dee Givens said after leading the No. 5 Generals past No. 4 Franklin County 63-54 in the region semifinals Saturday in the Frankfort Convention Center.
Lafayette (26-5), seeking its first Sweet Sixteen berth in 30 years, will play Paul Laurence Dunbar (25-7) for the region title Sunday at 4 p.m.
Generals Coach Allison Denton said Givens "had a look in her eye" before Saturday's game. "The ball was going to be in her hands, and she was going to be the one shooting it, and we were totally fine with that."
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Givens, a 5-foot-11 junior, had 26 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Kiara Pankins was a major contributor, too. The 5-8 freshman had 18 points, including 11 of 14 free throws, and eight rebounds.
Ashanti Thomas and Sarah Cooley provided inside muscle, combining for 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Point guard Ken'yale Demus added six points, five assists and three steals.
Lafayette looked like it might have an easy afternoon when it built a 14-point lead in the first six minutes. Givens, who eclipsed 1,000 points in the region opener, hit three three-pointers in a row to spark the fast start.
But Franklin County owned the second quarter. The Flyers used full-court pressure to rattle Lafayette, and they rallied to take a 27-25 halftime lead.
Denton has said all season that she hasn't had to push or motivate her team. Did she do any pushing or motivating at halftime Saturday?
"We did some adjusting," she said with a wry smile.
Lafayette opened the second half with a 10-0 run, and it never trailed again.
Franklin County didn't roll over, though, even after sophomore standout Malaka Frank fouled out on a controversial call early in the fourth quarter. Frank had 18 points when she went to the bench with 5:14 left and her team trailing 44-38.
Dasia Kilbourne hit a pair of threes to help rally Franklin County. It cut Lafayette's lead to two points twice in the closing minutes. But the Generals kept getting to the foul line and kept knocking down enough free throws to keep the Flyers at bay.
Lafayette hit 17 of 25 foul shots in the fourth quarter, and 25 of 39 for the game.
Franklin County hit 13 of 18 free throws.
Senior Nannilena White had 15 points for the Flyers. Kilbourne, a sophomore, had 11 points. Princess Stewart, a 5-6 freshman, had 11 rebounds, five points and four assists.
Flyers Coach Joey Thacker, who obviously wasn't happy with the officiating, declined comment after the game.
Lafayette 63, Franklin Co. 54
FRANKLIN CO. (25-7) — White 15, Frank 18, Kilbourne 11, Stewart 5, Arrastia 3, Cook 2.
LAFAYETTE (26-3) — Givens 26, Pankins 18, Cooley 6, Demus 6, Thomas 7.
Franklin Co. 9 18 7 20—54
Lafayette 21 4 17 21—63