Lexington Catholic defeated Paul Laurence Dunbar, 53-52, in a 43rd District battle Thursday night on its home floor.
Dunbar saw a 15-game win streak against district opponents come to an end. The Bulldogs’ last loss before Thursday was to Catholic, 55-51, on Feb. 24, 2015.
LexCath won its sixth straight and got its ninth win in its last 10 games. Luke Johnson scored 16 points to lead the Knights, who survived a last-second shot attempt from the corner by Dunbar’s Isaiah Yeast.
Peter Whitman had 12 points and seven rebounds for LexCath before a deep cut to his mouth forced him out of the game with about four minutes to play. He played 20 minutes despite missing practice all week leading up to the game with flu-like symptoms. He had a 102-degree fever on Thursday morning.
“His wonderful mother took really good care of him and got him to school,” LexCath Coach Brandon Salsman said. “ … Everybody’s telling me he can only play 10 minutes, 12 minutes, and the man goes out there and plays darn near the entire game until he gets his tongue cut.
“He’s becoming a force for us, which going down the stretch is going to make us really tough to beat.”
Salsman joked that there might have been some over-coaching down the stretch. After the Knights’ Max Sparkman had two free throw attempts hit rim, Dunbar called time with 9.3 seconds left. Lexington Catholic then called consecutive timeouts before a Dunbar inbound. The Bulldogs then called time with four seconds remaining. LexCath followed with its final timeout before Yeast’s game-tying try.
“I think the last time, my own crowd was probably about to kill me when I called the last timeout,” Salsman said with a laugh. “It’s just one of those things in coaching. You want to make sure you told them everything.”
Dunbar star Taveion Hollingsworth had an uncharacteristic shooting night, finishing with 10 points on a 3-for-15 clip from the field. Yeast had 17 points in the first half but was held to only two shot attempts in the second half and ended with a team-high 19 points.
Zan Payne also finished with 12 points for the Knights, half of it coming via a 6-for-6 mark from the free-throw line in the final period.
Lexington Catholic 53, Paul Laurence Dunbar 52
Dunbar (13-6) — Richardson 4, Yeast 19, JaQuice Gray 2, Hollingsworth 10, Gadd 9, Ifeacho 6, Whiteside 2.
LexCath (14-6) — Price 7, Johnson 16, Scott 6, Payne 12, Whitman 12.