Lexington Catholic and Paul Laurence Dunbar’s boys’ basketball teams each scored arguably their best wins of the season last week as each knocked off then-No. 12 Lexington Christian Academy on the road.
Catholic struck first, leaving LCA with a 54-49 overtime victory on Jan. 2. Dunbar handed the Eagles their second straight loss, 65-58, on Friday before LCA bounced back with a 68-49 victory over defending 12th Region champ Southwestern in the Patriot Classic at Lincoln County on Saturday.
Ben Johnson — a sophomore whose 15.8 points per game leads Lexington Catholic — was held without a point at LCA until there was 5:33 left in regulation. He finished the night with nine points, including a game-tying layup with about 12 seconds left to force the additional period.
The Knights received a big boost from Luke Wedding; the junior averages a little more than three points per game, but he scored 17 on 6-for-10 shooting (5-for-8 from the three-point line) at LCA and grabbed five rebounds.
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Two of the last three meetings between Catholic and LCA have been decided in overtime and all three were decided five points or fewer.
“It’s gonna be a war in our district,” LexCath Coach Brandon Salsman said. “Every game, it doesn’t matter. These games are great for seeding purposes but you’re gonna have to win a game to get to the region.”
The Knights are 2-0 in the 43rd District and are the only team without a blemish in it with a short trip to Lafayette scheduled for Tuesday. LexCath is 7-10 overall, six of those defeats coming consecutively in December and five of them against out-of-state competition.
“Anybody that wants to trade schedules with me, they’re more than welcome to,” Salsman said with a grin. “Anybody that wants to go to Clay County and play, they’re more than welcome to go down there. Anybody who wants to play three defending state champions in Las Vegas, I’ll trade with anybody. Our schedule gets nothing but tough but we knew that with our district and our region. If we’re gonna get (to state), we’re gonna have to beat great teams. What’s the use in playing teams that aren’t gonna get you ready for the district and region?”
Jared Gadd poured in 24 points for Dunbar — 7-for-14 overall and 6-for-12 from behind the line — in its win at LCA. He also finished with seven assists and two steals. LCA star Kyle Rode, who has signed with Liberty University, finished with 31 points (11 of 12 from the free-throw line), six rebounds and four assists in that one.
Lafayette won its fifth straight game Friday night and improved to 10-6 overall after upending Tates Creek, 51-49, at home.
The Generals led most of the way but the Commodores stayed within striking distance. Ray Surratt put Lafayette up three, 49-46, with 1:10 remaining after converting a free throw on an and-one putback attempt. Tates Creek answered with a three-pointer by Cion Townsend with about 40 seconds to play before Surratt again secured an offensive rebound and got the final go-ahead basket with 1.5 seconds left; Tates Creek didn’t get a shot off at the end.
Surratt, a 6-foot-8 junior who also pitches for the Lafayette baseball team, finished with 24 points, 14 rebounds (seven offensive), three blocks and two steals in 28 minutes.
Lafayette Coach Mike Mendenhall thinks Surratt has made a leap in his conditioning and maturity.
“Last year he was getting pushed around a lot, which kind of wore him down, but I think this year he’s able to withstand some of that punishment ‘cause they just beat the crap out of him down there on the block,” Mendenhall said. “He’s doing a good job of staying active and being in shape enough to make those plays. I think he only sat a minute in the second half and he was able to keep that motor, and I don’t know if he was able to do that last year.”
Tates Creek had a six-game win streak snapped. The Commodores (9-4) are still searching for their first district win since December 2014 but appear to have turned a corner in Coach Jarrod Gay’s second year at the helm. Their nine wins are more than they had in all but one of the last six seasons (they finished 11-16 in 2014-15).
“They’ve got a lot of big, long athletic kids that have really bought into their system,” Mendenhall said. “This is one of those games that scared me to death. I knew they were gonna come in hungry.”
▪ Will Hairston, Sayre: He hit the go-ahead bucket with four seconds left to give the Spartans a 48-46 win over Pendleton County on Friday. The win was Sayre’s first in the new year and snapped a five-game skid.
▪ Blake Smith, Lincoln County: The senior guard scored a game-high 16 points and hit the go-ahead jumper with 1.7 seconds left in the Patriots’ 43-41 win over Hopkinsville at home on Saturday. It snapped the Patriots’ two-game slide prior to a home date with Pulaski County (9-5, 5-1 in 12th Region play) on Tuesday.
▪ Zoie Barth, Highlands: She finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds in Highlands’ 71-46 victory over Newport Central Catholic.
▪ Brady Whitaker, Magoffin County: He scored nearly double his season average and set a new school record with 47 points in the Hornets’ 71-44 win over Belfry on Friday.
▪ Savannah Wheeler, Boyd County: The Lions suffered their second loss of the season on Saturday, falling 73-68 to Huntington St. Joseph (W.Va.). Wheeler, a Marshall signee, scored a game-high 43 points and hit four three-pointers. She leads the state at 32.7 points per game, ahead of Frederick Douglass’ Destyne Jackson (29.4) and Wolfe County’s Hailey Smith (28.4).
▪ Harris Hawkins, Henry Clay: He finished with a double-double — 13 points, 13 rebounds — and played all 40 minutes in the Blue Devils’ 60-56 victory over Huntington North (Ind.) in double overtime as part of the Kentucky-Indiana Challenge Cup at New Castle. He had 16 points less than 24 hours before in Henry Clay’s 67-59 loss to Scott County.
▪ Samantha Cornelison, Madison Southern: The sophomore crossed the 1,000-point mark for her career as part of her team-high 18 in a 55-48 loss to Madison Central on Saturday.
▪ Caty Armishaw, Tates Creek: She led all scorers with 18 points on 7-for-14 shooting (4-for-6 from three-point territory) in the Commodores’ 48-41 victory over Lexington on Friday. The freshman also had a game-high 12 rebounds and two blocks.
▪ Seth Williams, Paintsville: He scored 27 points (10 of 16 overall, 5-for-8 on three-pointers), had five assists and five rebounds in the Tigers’ 73-54 victory at Johnson Central. Paintsville has won 10 straight since dropping its first two contests.
▪ Kelly Niece, Simon Kenton: Sophomore led his team with a game-high 27 points, five rebounds and four assists in a 60-57 upset of No. 14 Walton-Verona.
▪ Lindi DeBilzan, Lafayette: She had 32 points (13 of 20 from the floor), three steals and two blocks in Lafayette’s 69-55 win over Paul Laurence Dunbar.
▪ Whitney Hay, Elizabethtown: Junior was 11 of 16 from the field for 28 points and had 11 rebounds in the Panthers’ 70-53 victory against Eastern. She was 4-for-5 from behind the three-point line.