LCA basketball runs football play worthy of SportsCenter
Lexington Christian Academy boys’ basketball coach Nate Valentine told his team that if they got into a football game with Mayfield, they might be in trouble. The Cardinals — whose 15-deep roster features seven players who also star for Mayfield’s storied pigskin program — would try everything in their power to exhaust the Eagles, and make them feel it in the morning.
“We had to make it a half-court basketball game,” Valentine said. “I know a lot of people in this area may not have seen Mayfield play, but they’re a really good team. There’s no question they could be in Rupp Arena.”
LCA controlled the line of scrimmage: It defeated Mayfield, 62-50, in the quarterfinals of the All “A” Classic on Friday night at Eastern Kentucky University’s McBrayer Arena.
The Eagles held Mayfield 20 points below its season scoring average and outshot the Cardinals 53.1 percent to 40 percent. Kyle Rode finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and four assists to lead the defending small-school titlist.
Rode was the hand-off man on a “hook and ladder” out-of-bounds play that could find its way to the “SportsCenter” Top 10. With 4.2 seconds left to play in the the third quarter, LCA lined up three players in a “trips right” formation and inbounded the ball at mid-court to Rode, one of the three “receivers.” Rode quickly handed the ball off to a slashing Baylor Brown, who pushed it ahead to Will Hacker for the “touchdown” — a three-pointer to put LCA ahead by 11 points headed into the final period.
Ethan Atchley, the former LCA football coach who earlier this month was named head coach at Bullitt East, helped Valentine install the play last week. It was inspired by a football-themed inbounds play used by Northern Kentucky University to disrupt an opponent earlier this month.
“We were kind of saving it for a desperation shot, but it felt like that was a big momentum swinger right there and kind of a back breaker at the end of the third quarter, so we went ahead and used it,” Valentine said. “Thankfully we made the shot. For us, it was two-pronged: I saw Northern run their play and I didn’t know where they got it from, but I thought, ‘Man, what a great way to get the ball inbounds.’ It’s unique and we’re always trying to be innovative and come up with new stuff. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel but you wanna do some stuff.
“And then, you’re in the middle of January and it’s kind of the dog days of the season, so I had my five seniors out there before practice and I said, ‘C’mon guys, let’s run trips right.’ They started laughing and they ran it and we ran it exactly the same way we did today, and Hacker made the shot. So it’s just something to give the guys some fun. Maybe one out of a million it actually works, but it did today.”
LCA will meet Walton-Verona in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Saturday. The Eagles defeated Walton-Verona in last year’s All “A” Classic championship, during which the Bearcats were without star Dieonte Miles, a Xavier signee who’s averaging 13.9 points and 6.7 rebounds.