Lexington Christian Academy lost by one point when it broke its maiden in the 11th Region tournament a year ago. It looked like a Triple Crown winner in its follow-up appearance, running away quickly from Frankfort in a 88-58 victory Wednesday night at Eastern Kentucky University’s McBrayer Arena.
Will Hacker came out on fire, hitting seven three-pointers and scoring 21 points in 12 first-half minutes.
The junior guard finished with a career-high 25 points on 8-for-10 shooting to lead LCA, which will meet either Bryan Station or Madison Central in the semifinals Saturday afternoon.
Hacker averaged 7.5 points through the Eagles’ first 32 games. His previous high this season was 18 points in a 60-54 win at Paul Laurence Dunbar on Jan. 5. He scored nine points against the Panthers when LCA met them in the 11th Region All “A” Classic finals on Jan. 20.
“I’m not gonna lie, (the basket) looked pretty big from warm-ups and then my teammates just did a great job of finding me all throughout the first half and really all throughout the game,” Hacker said.
Eagles Coach Nate Valentine said Hacker hadn’t shot well over the last couple of weeks and he was happy to see him find his touch in the region-opener.
After last year’s dud, Valentine thought his whole team was better-prepared overall in its second go-around. LCA connected on its first eight shot attempts and led 32-11 after the first quarter. Frankfort went up 2-0 from the jump but never got the margin closer than 18 points after halftime.
“We cut practice short about 20 minutes yesterday because we were going up and down and the guys were just ready to go,” Valentine said. “That’s a testament to the leadership that we have in the locker room. They had the guys ready to go, definitely.”
Junior Kyle Rode had 19 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and four steals for the Eagles (26-7). Carter Hendricksen, who’s signed with North Florida, had 16 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
Frankfort (16-14) next season will return three of its top five scorers, including 6-foot-6 John Tillman, who averaged 16.9 points and 10.8 rebounds, and Juanya Frank, who averaged 16.4 points and led the Panthers in three-point shooting this season.