RICHMOND — It was all Lexington Catholic in the boys' 11th Region semifinals as the Knights were all over Henry Clay from the opening tip Monday night.
Lexington Catholic led by a shocking 25-6 with 90 seconds left in the first half of what was expected to be a too-close-to-call shodown between top 20 teams.
No. 17 Henry Clay never recovered from a nine-minute scoring drought, and No. 11 Lexington Catholic cruised to a 65-44 victory in Eastern Kentucky University's McBrayer Arena.
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The Knights advance to play No. 19 Bryan Station in Tuesday night's finals.
"Henry Clay is a great team with unbelievable athletes, but we just absolutely guarded tonight," Lexington Catholic Coach Brandon Salsman said. "These are Catholic kids who came up through our system, and they can score. But the thing they do better than anything is guard."
Henry Clay trailed 25-10 at halftime after shooting 20 percent (5-for-25).
"I thought we played good defense and had a good game plan," Blue Devils Coach Daniel Brown said. "But when we had 10 points in the first half, that's what I call digging a hole. We just didn't play good offensively. It was just a bad night."
Tanner Johnson thought Lexington Catholic's first-half defense, that included four blocks, was the difference.
"We were all really helping each other out," Johnson said. "When somebody got beat, everybody else would come in and help. We were collapsing on them and making them take tough shots."
The Knights had more than enough offensive firepower, whether it was Michael Talbott or Jarod Griffin attacking the rim, or Johnson bombing three-pointers.
After Henry Clay trimmed the 15-point halftime deficit to 28-19, the Knights went on the assault. Johnson hit three three-pointers to fuel a 15-3 run that stretched the lead to 43-22.
Johnson led the winners with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Talbott had 17 points and five rebounds. Griffin had 13 points. Reese Ryan added five points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals.
Henry Clay was led by senior point guard Felix Wilson's 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Leander Ridgeway had eight points off the bench. Colby Barnes chipped in with six points, and Isaiah Tisdale finished with five.
Lexington Catholic moves on to the finals looking for its first region title since 2011.
"I love my team," Salsman said. "I wouldn't trade them for the Lakers right now."
And what about being so close to getting to Rupp Arena for the Sweet Sixteen?
"Ask me tomorrow night," Salsman said.
Lexington Catholic 65, Henry Clay 44
Henry Clay (21-11) — Tisdale 5, Barnes 6, Houston 4, Campbell 2, Wilson 15, Ridgeway 8, Simpson 4.
Lexington Catholic (23-8) — Johnson 20, Talbott 17, Griffin 13, Ryan 5, Whitman 4, Ogbogu 2, Morris 2, Payne 2.
Henry Clay 4 6 21 13—44
Lexington Catholic 12 13 23 17—65