PARIS — A fabulous, furious finish carried Dixie Heights past Lexington Catholic 67-61 in a showdown of top 10 teams in the Kentucky Bank Shootout at Bourbon County Saturday night.
Dixie Heights, rated No. 6 in the state, scored the last 13 points of the game to rally past the No. 10 Knights.
"That doesn't happen often, especially against a team like Lexington Catholic." Coach Ken Chevalier said of his Colonels' comeback.
The victory was a little revenge for Dixie Heights, which lost to the Knights 69-60 in the first round of the Sweet Sixteen last March.
Lexington Catholic was in position to beat the Colonels again when Jack Whitman's three-pointer from the left corner gave his team a 61-54 lead with 2:30 left.
But everything unraveled for the Knights after that.
Dixie Heights put on a press "out of desperation more than anything," Chevalier said, and Lexington Catholic couldn't handle it.
The Colonels forced three turnovers in a row that Juwan Evans turned into five points to trim the deficit to 61-59.
"That ignited the fuse," Dixie Heights senior Parker Stansberry said.
Knights Coach Brandon Salsman said the press "shell-shocked us a little. We weren't mentally prepared for it."
After Lexington Catholic missed the front end of a bonus free-throw situation, Stansberry tied it with two free throws for the Colonels.
The Knights made another turnover, and Stansberry's layup put Dixie Heights ahead 63-61 — its first lead since early in the second half. The Colonels added four more free throws in the final minute while Lexington Catholic continued to come up empty.
Jordan Hassel (14 points, seven rebounds) and Brandon Hatton (14 points, seven assists) led Dixie Heights (4-0). Stansberry had 12 points.
Whitman, a 6-foot-9 junior, led Lexington Catholic with 23 points and 20 rebounds.
"That kid is one heck of a high school basketball center," Chevalier said.
Craig Floyd had 14 points and Patrick Keller added 12 for the Knights (4-1).
Salsman said he was proud of the way his inexperienced team "went toe to toe" with the more veteran Colonels.
"I'm proud of my guys," he said. "I told them that was three of the best quarters they've put together, and two of the worst minutes.
"But the way we finished was my fault. I haven't gotten them enough practice in those situations. But it's Dec. 10, not March 10. We've got a lot of time to get better."
Chevalier was delighted that his team got another early-season victory because its competition gets "crazy good" later this month, including a trip to the King of the Bluegrass at Fairdale and a holiday tournament in New York.
"My concern was that if we didn't get out of the gate quickly, and win the games now we're capable of winning, we could've gone into January with a 2-10 record.
"So getting to 4-0 is special."
Dixie Heights 67, Lex. Catholic 61
DIXIE HEIGHTS (4-0) — Hatton 14, Stansberry 12, Hassel 14, Evans 9, Fox 9, Wigger 9.
LEXINGTON CATHOLIC (4-1) — Whitman 23, Keller 12, Floyd 14, Avare 6, Woomer 3, Bennett 2, Banahan 1.
Dixie Heights 15 15 15 22—67
Lexington Catholic 12 17 17 15—61