Ross Jenkins scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, both game highs to lead No. 5 Lafayette in its 66-63 win at No. 21 Lexington Catholic on Monday night.
Fittingly, the game between rivals separated by only about one mile came down to the wire. LexCath’s Donovan Morris received a pass from the top of the key then fired up a good look from behind the arc only to see it draw front iron. Jenkins came away with the board and hit two free throws with 1.3 seconds left to give Lafayette the three-point win.
“Every time we play it’s just a great game,” Jenkins said. “High energy, great atmosphere. It’s always fun and it’s always close.
Luke Johnson forced up a three-point prayer while leaning into a Lafayette defender after receiving the final inbound in an effort to tie things at the line, but the officials didn’t make the call.
“If they would’ve called that you would’ve had to restrain me,” Lafayette Coach Mike Mendenall said with a laugh. “I may have been in jail tonight.”
The Generals came out firing, hitting nearly 50-percent of their shots in the first half and connecting on four of 12 three-point attempts to take a 37-33 lead at the break. It went cold from beyond the arc after leaving the locker room, going 2-for-11 the rest of the way.
LexCath took advantage, chipping away and finally taking its first lead take its first lead in the opening minute of the fourth quarter on three straight free throws. The Knights got out to a 61-57 advantage with 1:26 left after a transition bucket by JJ Ogbogu, who tipped a pass which led to a steal and assist by Johnson.
Lafayette finished on an 8-2 run, coming up with some key turnovers of its own down the stretch.
“In the second half we cooled off a little bit and it turned into a halfcourt game, which isn’t our strength” Mendenhall said. “But we found a way.”
Finding a way is something LexCath Coach Brandon Salsman hopes his group can start doing. Six of the Knights’ eight losses are to teams ranked in the top 20. The other two were by a combined six points away from home. Perhaps most excruciating, LexCath has now lost to district rivals Dunbar and Lafayette by a combined four points.
“We just need to turn the corner,” Salsman said. “Hopefully we’ll do it and won’t run out of time. … Going down the stretch the one thing I hope is that we figure out if we’re gonna do it or not. I think if we do we’re gonna be really good and if we don’t, we’re gonna be in battles and it’s gonna come down to the wire again.”
Lafayette ladies win at LexCath, too
The Lafayette girls’ team claimed a 40-38 win immediately prior to the boys’ victory, holding off their rival to improve to 4-0 in 43rd District play.
Caroline Bennett led the Generals with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting. Jay Ballard had 14 points for Lexington Catholic.
Boys: Lafayette 66, Lexington Catholic 63
Lafayette (13-3) — Powell 3, Downey 12, J. Jenkins 9, Dreux 1, J. Carpenter 7, Lane 14, Watkins 3, R. Jenkins 17.
Lexington Catholic (7-8) — Morris 11, Ogbogu 14, Johnson 15, Scott 3, Payne 16, Whitman 4.
Girls: Lafayette 40, Lexington Catholic 38
Lafayette (11-5) — DeBilzan 4, Bennett 15, Pankins 8, Wilson 3, Conwell 4, Powell 5, Gar-Carter 1.
Lexington Catholic (6-9) — Jazdzewski 2, Bonn 5, Osbourn 11, Frebis 4, Ballard 14, Bailey 2.