Lexington Catholic didn't necessarily shut down Bowling Green's Chane Behanan in Wednesday's Republic Bank Holiday Classic semifinals, as the Mr. Basketball candidate and University of Louisville signee scored 20 points and hauled in 16 rebounds.
But the Knights kept Behanan in check just enough and made its pressure defense the headline story of a 69-57 win over the sixth-ranked Purples.
LexCath scored 38 points off 29 Bowling Green turnovers and advanced to Thursday's 7 p.m. championship game against Ballard, a surprisingly easy 98-77 winner over Fayette County (Ga.).
U of L football signee DeVante Parker continued his standout play with 28 points, five rebounds and five steals.
Lexington Catholic 69, Bowling Green 57: The 6-foot-7 Behanan showed off his athleticism with a coast-to-coast, crossover lay-in that helped trim a 41-30 halftime deficit to 50-49 at the end of the third quarter.
"Nobody can really contain him; he's a monster," Lexington Catholic Coach Brandon Salsman said. "When you weigh that much, and you're that strong and athletic at the high school level, that's a tough thing to deal with."
Catholic kept its poise, however, as Brian Woomer and Scott Schuette hit back-to-back threes and Schuette scored on a layup off a steal to cap a 10-2 run that pushed the lead back to nine (60-51).
The Knights were 10-for-26 from beyond the arc and placed four players in double figures: Schuette, who was 5-for-12 on threes en route to a team-high 19 points; Taylor Martin, who had 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists; Seth Beckham, whose 12 points included a thunderous one-handed jam late in the fourth quarter; and Woomer, who chipped in with 10.
It was Catholic's pressure defense that dictated the game. "That's been the staple of this program for 20 years," Salsman said.
"We turned it over way too much," Bowling Green Coach D.G. Sherrill said. "And when you turn it over against a team like Catholic, they'll come down and bury threes on you and really make you pay."
Behanan was the only Bowling Green player to reach double figures, and the Purples were just 2-for-7 from three-point range.
Ballard 98, Fayette County (Ga.) 77: This one was never really a game as the Bruins jumped on Fayette County early and rarely took their foot off the gas. Parker's three-pointer shortly before the first-quarter horn put Ballard up 22-7, and the Bruins went into halftime up 28 (45-17) on the No. 2 rated team in Georgia's Class 4A.
Parker is a leading candidate for Mr. Football and showed he might also deserve to be in the mix for Mr. Basketball.
"We knew after last year and going into the summer that he was going to have a strong senior year, and he's been even better than we could have imagined," Ballard Coach Chris Renner said. "He does it all. He scores for us, he's a great defensive player, he's a leader."
Fayette County had been impressive in its run to the semifinals, but the Bruins contested nearly every shot early on, and the Tigers couldn't capitalize on the few open looks they got. Fayette shot just 18 percent (6-for-33) in the first half.
Bowling Green (9-3)—Behanon 20, Hunter 5, Clement 8, Geegan 9, Hollis 4, Halcomb 7, Disney 4.
Lexington Catholic (11-1)—Floyd 4, Woomer 10, Martin 16, Beckham 12, Schuette 19, Porter 2, Keller 3, Muncie 3.
Bowling Green 15 9 25 8—57
Lexington Catholic 18 18 14 19—69
Ballard (13-0)—Parrish 4, Martin 7, Snider 18, Parker 28, Holland 10, Lewis 7, Biggers 5, Hardin 2, Yackey 12, Caggins 2, Black 3.
Fayette County (12-2)—Smith 28, Lauderdale 7, Erves 8, Williams 17, Anachebe 2, Sanford 2, Parker 4, Johnson 7, Taylor 1, Thompson 1.
Ballard 22 23 23 30—98
Fayette Co. (Ga.) 7 10 28 32—77