Lafayette used pulverizing runs in the second and third quarters to take control of what started as a back-and-forth contest to upset No. 14 Scott County, 78-70, in the semifinals of the girls’ 11th Region tournament Friday night at McBrayer Arena.
After Scott County took a three-point lead on a Peyton Riddle triple early in the second quarter, Lafayette ripped off a 12-2 run to forge a seven-point cushion in the period. Tekiya Garr-Carter scored six straight points during that pivotal stretch and matched Riddle with a game-high 21.
The Generals began the third period on a 21-9 run and led by 21 points with 1:54 left, but Scott County scored nine unanswered to close the quarter.
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Lafayette’s sole senior, Kiara Pankins, fouled out on a charge with 3:30 remaining. The Cards cut the Generals’ lead to nine points about a minute later, but Lafayette responded with a 5-0 run to pinch off the rally.
“It feels really good,” said Garr-Carter, a junior. “Nobody expected us to be here so to get to where we are now, it just feels great.”
Pankins said the Generals’ plan coming in was to stop Scott County’s transition game. Lafayette turned the tables, leaking out for easy baskets and trips to the free-throw line on possession after possession. It finished with a 20-12 edge in fast-break points.
“Our defense was able to get some easy steals and looked up the court,” said Pankins, who finished with 17 points (7-for-9 shooting) and eight rebounds. “They hang back a lot on their press and there were people just wide open. They made it easy to throw over the press and everyone ran the court really well tonight.”
Pankins is the lone holdover from Lafayette’s 2014 state-tournament team. She was that team’s second-leading scorer as a freshman.
Several weeks after suffering a concussion and not looking much like herself since returning in the 43rd District finals, the Generals star returned to form versus Scott County.
“Kiara Pankins was back tonight,” Coach Allison Denton said. “I kissed her a couple of times and said, ‘There’s Kiara Pankins.’ But she had the look in her eye before the game started. ... This could have been her last game and she didn’t want it to be her last game. She took care of business.”
Scott County had lost to only one other team in the 11th Region – Madison Central – before Friday. Maaliya Owens, a freshman, finished behind Riddle with 15 points and nine rebounds. Senior Lauren Boehm ended with 10 points, 14 rebounds and a game-high six steals.
Lafayette will meet either Franklin County or Madison Central in Saturday night’s championship game. The Generals defeated Madison Central, 53-49, in the regular season but were crushed by the tournament-favorite Flyers, 70-40.
Junior Terri Abram, who had 19 points and six assists Friday, had only three points in first go-around with Franklin County.
“I believe in us 100 percent,” Abram said.
Lafayette 78, Scott County 70
Scott Co. (20-10) — Hudson 10, Boehm 10, DeFoor 8, Owens 15, Riddle 21, Ward 6.
Lafayette (24-9) — Bennett 7, K. Pankins 17, DeBilzan 3, Garr-Carter 21, Abram 19, Goff 11.
11th Region tournament
At McBrayer Arena, EKU
Boys’ semifinals: Lexington Catholic vs. Sayre, 1:30 p.m.; Scott County vs. Madison Central, 3:15 p.m.
Girls’ finals: Lafayette vs. Franklin County-Madison Central winner, 7:30 p.m.