High School Basketball

Boys: Lexington Catholic 68, Lafayette 64

Lexington Catholic's Tanner Johnson, playing his first varsity game in Alumni Gym where his father starred almost 30 years ago, channeled his old man and did a star turn of his own on the old court on Thursday night.

Johnson, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, hit five of 10 three-pointers and had 24 points and five rebounds to lead No. 24 Lexington Catholic past No. 22 Lafayette 68-64.

The Knights' victory secured them the top seed in the 43rd District tournament, which means they will play either Lexington Christian or Tates Creek in the semifinals. Lafayette and No. 16 Paul Laurence Dunbar will battle it out in the other district elimination semifinal.

"For us to go 7-1 in this district, with three top 20 teams, that's a great accomplishment by my guys," Coach Brandon Salsman said.

Thursday's showdown was played in Alumni Gym because Bueter Gym was being set up for a fund-raiser.

The Knights didn't mind playing in the ol' crackerbox.

"The whole team's got a key to this place. They've shot so many times in here it's like their own private club," Salsman said. "So I knew we'd shoot well."

This was the court where Danny Johnson, Tanner's dad, was a sharpshooter for Lexington Catholic's 1985 region championship team.

Danny admitted it was "a little weird" watching his son play where he did, but he figured Tanner would do well. "As many shots as he's taken in here over the last 15 years, I knew he'd feel at home."

Asked if he felt his dad's ghost on the court, Tanner said, "Yeah, a little bit."

While Johnson was sniping away from outside, Jack Whitman was doing his customary solid job inside. The 6-9 senior had 16 points, four rebounds and three blocks.

Jarod Griffin, whose dad Trey also played for the Knights in the old gym, had seven assists and five points.

Reese Ryan, Dillon Avare and Michael Talbott all hit key shots and combined for 21 points as Lexington Catholic avenged an early-season loss to Lafayette.

Lafayette used its superior size to win the battle on the boards 36-23. Jackson Davis led the way with 15 rebounds to go with 10 points.

Nick Trisko had 14 points and six rebounds, and point guard Lance Blakley had 13 points and four assists. Tranard Chester, who didn't play in the first half, had all of his 12 points in the fourth quarter as Lafayette rallied from 13 down to get within four in the closing minutes.

"That's why I give hat's off to my kids," Coach Mike Mendenhall said. "They kept fighting. I don't know if we'd done that last year."

With the Knights ahead 63-59 and 55 seconds left, Johnson didn't hesitate to pull the trigger on a three from the right wing.

"I wanted to take the big shot, to do it for my team," he said.

Tanner swished the clutch shot, just like dear ol' dad used to do on the same floor.


LAFAYETTE (13-9) -- Davis 10, Sweatt-Washington 5, Chester 12, Robinson 6, Trisko 14, Evans 4, Blakley 13.

LEXINGTON CATHOLIC (17-7) -- Johnson 24, Whitman 16, Griffin 5, Avare 6, Ryan 9, Banahan 2, Talbott 6.

Lafayette 9 15  9 31 —64

Lexington Catholic 13 14 17 24—68

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader