Ninety seconds into Monday evening’s game, Manual players found themselves calling a timeout and wondering how they were already down 7-0 to Lafayette. The timeout would fix nothing. Led by a balanced scoring attack and a menacing full court press, the Generals finished the first quarter up 23-2 and defeated Manual 66-43 in the first round of the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic.
The Generals were fueled almost entirely by a smooth, well-oiled and deep backcourt. Perhaps the team’s best scorer, Chris Wharton, had just 6 points in 13 minutes, but Eric Powell led with 12 points and Cameron King and Ray Surratt added 10 each. Eleven players scored for the Generals.
Manual freshman Eli Roberts led the Crimsons with 8 points and 3 blocks. The Crimsons fell to 1-8 on the season, while Lafayette improved to 6-5.
The Generals opened the game by forcing a travel and then quickly getting their best shooter, Powell, open for a three, which he buried.
“Anytime [Powell] is hitting, we’re good,” said senior co-captain Jajuante Carpenter, who tallied 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 8 points.
After two more fast-break baskets, the Generals led 7-0 and then stretched it to 16-0 with 2:32 left in the first quarter. They finished the first half up 51-21.
Lafayette is not big. All five of their starters are listed as guards, and that size deficit may be why they have lost games to Dunbar, Scott County and Bryan Station by 28, 28 and 20 points, respectively.
But what they lack in interior presence, they make up for with a disciplined press and quick spurts of flawless transition offense.
“We’re not the tallest team in the world,” Coach Mike Mendenhall said. “I think we go about six-foot across the board. So, we really gotta get in people and turn them over and make it a running game. If it’s a half-court game, we tend to struggle.”
The Generals press after every dead ball and missed free throw. Against Manual, they forced 23 turnovers, and turned many of them into fast-break points. Almost every Lafayette player is capable of running the break and making the perfect pass for an easy basket.
However, if Lafayette is to truly compete in the 11th Region, they will need to play bigger than they are.
“[Coaches] tell us every day that rebounding is all about hustle, so we’re getting that in our minds,” senior co-captain Cameron Greenup said.
Although they have lost a few games early in the season, the Generals are not concerned. Besides, if they can control the tempo, this team full of guards will get to run. And they like that.
“We’re a lot faster than most of the teams,” Wharton said. “Most of them want to slow it down. If we get to run like we did in the first half, the game’s over by then.”
Traditional Bank Holiday Classic
Where: Lexington Catholic’s Alumni Gym and Bueter Gym
When: Various times beginning Monday. Semifinals at 7 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Finals at 7:30 p.m. Friday