What looked like a blowout in the making turned into a nail-biter for the Lafayette girls’ basketball team. The Generals held off a game rally by Woodford County, knocking off the Yellow Jackets 61-54 in the opener of the 11th Region tournament at Eastern Kentucky University’s McBrayer Arena on Monday night.
Lafayette, fresh off its win in the 43rd District finals, jumped ahead 15-5 on Tekiya Garr-Carter’s second steal and coast-to-coast drive. The Generals pushed the pace early and Woodford struggled to adjust, turning the ball over seven times in the period.
Caroline Bennett’s second three-pointer capped a 14-2 run as Lafayette led 22-7 after one quarter.
But the Yellow Jackets refused to fold. Abby Moffett sank two of her four three-pointers in the second quarter as Woodford cut the deficit to 34-24 at halftime.
Coming out of the locker room, the Generals once again appeared on the verge of running away with it. Lindi DeBilzan scored six straight points on a pair of jumpers and a steal and runout to push the advantage to 40-28.
That’s when Woodford County freshman center Delaney Enlow took over in the post. She scored six of her 13 points down the stretch in the third quarter as the Yellow Jackets fought back within 49-42 heading into the fourth. Enlow was relentless under the basket on both ends, hauling in a game-high 17 rebounds and blocking eight shots. Enlow’s putback midway through the fourth quarter cut the Lafayette lead to six, but DeBilzan responded with a huge three-pointer.
DeBilzan led Lafayette with 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Scott County Coach Allison Denton said the sophomore’s efforts early in the third quarter were key.
“Coming out of one of those timeouts I told Lindi ‘we need a spark, go do something for us,’” Denton said. “Right after that’s when she went out and turned it on.”
Woodford was still very much alive late in the fourth quarter. Moffett banked in a three with two minutes left to cut Lafayette’s lead back down to six, but Enlow missed a tough layup and Moffett came up short on a pair of threes with under a minute to play.
Garr-Carter sealed the win with her seventh steal and a 1-for-2 trip to the free throw line. She also had 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting.
“We call Tekiya our spark, she’s such an athlete,” Denton said. “She gets her hands on balls that we would never expect her to and comes up with big plays all the time. She has not disappointed us in the least.”
Woodford Coach Jay Lucas said he was proud of the fight shown by his Yellow Jackets, who return their entire roster next season.
“We were down big and it could have gotten really ugly, but we fought and made it a game,” he said. “We made Lafayette have to win that game … our kids are resilient and I’m so proud of the way they fight all the time.”
DeBilzan said Monday’s tough test will help the Generals as they advance in the postseason.
“This kind of game can only make us stronger, now that we know we can come back when we have to face some tough moments. This will make us a better team,” she said.
LAFAYETTE 61, WOODFORD CO. 54
Woodford Co. (14-19) — Abel 8, Enlow 13, Rose 10, Hudson 7, Moffett 14, Champion 2.
Lafayette (23-9) — Bennett 13, K. Pankins 9, DeBilzan 14, Garr-Carter 11, Abram 4, Goff 10.
11th Region girls’ tournament
6:30 p.m.: Franklin County vs. Henry Clay
8:15 p.m.: Madison Central vs. Paul Laurence Dunbar