When Lafayette started the season 0-5, Coach Allison Denton was frustrated, but she tried not to get too down on her inexperienced team.
"It's not February," she would tell them. "You have to keep working to get better."
Well, it is February now, and the Generals' hard work is starting to pay off. Friday night brought a 52-30 win over visiting Lexington Christian.
"We've come a long way from the beginning of the season," senior post player Shomari Kendrick said. "We've really improved and started working together.
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"We're playing so much more as a team than we were at the start of the season."
It was a total team effort. Kendrick was one of three players in double figures with 11 points, and she had 21 rebounds and five steals.
Kenyale Demus led all scorers with 13 points and six rebounds. Emily Justice added 12 points, all on three-pointers, and Sarah Martin put in nine points.
The Generals used two big runs in the first half and then held the Eagles scoreless in the third quarter to seal the win and secure the second seed in the district tournament.
Always the perfectionist, Denton reminded her team it still has some fine-tuning to do if it wants to get out of the district and into the region tournament.
"We've still got a lot of work to do," she said. "In my eyes, we played OK. We didn't play our best. We can still do better, but they are improving."
Lafayette opened the game with a 14-4 run, including three three-pointers from three different players.
LCA cut it to four points early in the second quarter before Lafayette used a 12-2 spree to grab its largest lead of the half, 26-12. The Generals took a 26-15 lead into the break.
"We talked about being patient against their zone and play inside-out, but we got sped up," LCA Coach Jason Seamands said.
Things didn't get any better for the Eagles in the third quarter when they were held without a point.
"Lafayette's done a great job of getting better all year," Seamands said. "The credit goes to them tonight and for their great season. ... They're playing as well as anybody in the region."
Lafayette won the boards battle 51-26, with Kendrick getting just five rebounds fewer than the entire LCA team.
Seamands has a short time to figure out a new plan for the Generals and their busy two-three zone.
The teams will face off as the second and third seeds in the district when post-season play starts in less than two weeks. Lexington Catholic, which went 7-1 in the district, earned the top seed.
LEXINGTON CHRISTIAN (15-9) — Bundy 2-8 0-0 5, Cox 2-7 0-0 4, Jacob 6-11 0-3 12, Rinehart 3-14 0-0 6, Mitcheuson 0-4 0-0 0, Evans 1-4 1-3 3. Totals 14-48 1-6 30.
LAFAYETTE (15-12) — Graham 0-9 0-0 0, Martin 3-9 0-0 9, Stiltner 0-1 0-0 0, Demus 5-10 0-2 13, Gillespie 1-5 3-4 5, Kendrick 5-13 1-3 11, Justice 3-5 3-4 12, Mynear 1-3 0-0 2, Cooley 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 18-57 7-13 52.
Lexington Christian 8 7 0 15—30
Lafayette 14 12 9 17—52