Lexington Christian Academy's students may have set a school record for decibel level as they helped push their boys' basketball team to a 58-44 victory over Sayre in the 11th Region All "A" finals Saturday night.
"I think they were cheering so hard because they knew they'd get out of school Thursday if we won," LCA Coach Nate Valentine said with a smile.
The Eagles will face 6th Region champ Shawnee in the first round of the Touchstone Energy All "A" Classic at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Frankfort Convention Center.
The All "A" state tournament is nothing new for LCA, which has qualified for the small-school shootout 11 times in the last 12 years.
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"It never gets old. It's always a special feeling," said 6-foot-7 senior Matt Rose, who had 25 points and nine rebounds against Sayre.
Drew Trimble, a 6-8 senior, had 15 points and 14 rebounds. Kyle Rode, a 6-5 eighth-grader, added 11 points and four assists for the 24th-rated Eagles.
Sayre, which hasn't won the All "A" region since 1998, battled LCA to a 13-13 tie through the first quarter, and the Spartans were down by only 27-20 at halftime.
But LCA lowered the boom in the third quarter.
Rode hit back-to-back threes to light the fuse on a 17-0 explosion. Rose had 11 points in the game-deciding run, capping it with a steal and dunk that made it 44-21.
"Early on I thought we got caught up in the emotion of the game," Valentine said. "We're cross-town rivals of private schools, and there are some personal rivalries there.
"We relaxed and settled down in the second half and concentrated on executing."
After Sayre pulled to within 18-17 midway through the second quarter on Quinn Pergande's jump hook, it didn't get its next field goal until Jack Henderson hit a three-pointer in the closing seconds of the third quarter.
LCA's defense overwhelmed the Spartans and the hosts eventually led by 26 points (50-24).
"They've got such great size and length, that wears on you," Sayre Coach Rob Goodman said. "But my guys battled so hard, and I was really proud of their effort.
"We want to compete with everybody in Lexington, and we're taking steps in the right direction. This is the next hurdle to get over."
Pergande, a 6-7 senior, led Sayre with 14 points. Jake Duby had nine, and Henderson added eight.
The Spartans shot better than LCA (43 percent to 35 percent), but the Eagles out-rebounded Sayre 32-17.