FRANKFORT — Drew Trimble admitted he and his Lexington Christian teammates "got a little comfortable" when they led Buckhorn 32-16 at halftime of the Touchstone Energy All "A" Classic quarterfinals Friday night.
That comfy feeling didn't last, though.
Buckhorn went on a 9-0 run to start the third quarter, and it was game on in the Frankfort Convention Center.
"I knew Buckhorn wasn't going to lay down," LCA Coach Nate Valentine said. "I knew they were going to fight and scrap to the end because they're a reflection of their coach (John Noble).
"He's a tough guy, and he instills that in them."
But LCA showed its poise and toughness, too, by gathering itself, going back to its inside game, and pulling away to a 53-35 victory.
LCA moves on to the semifinals to face tournament favorite Newport Central Catholic, which nuked the Eagles 78-49 in last year's semifinals.
Trimble credited senior point guards Drew Schacht and John Stein for getting the Eagles back on track against Buckhorn.
"They brought us in the huddle and told us to calm down, take our time on offense and get good shots," Trimble said.
That meant doing what they did in the first half, which was use their superior height and length to dominate inside. Matt Rose, a 6-foot-7 senior, led LCA with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Trimble, a 6-8 senior, had 14 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
The Eagles' size advantage also included 6-6 Tre King, 6-5 Kyle Rode and 6-4 Benton Nighbert.
Noble said Rose was an especially tough matchup for Buckhorn, whose tallest starter is 6-3.
"Rose is 6-7, and we can't stack two of our guys together and get 6-7," he said. "Plus he's lefthanded and that makes him harder to guard. He's a special player."
But Noble was proud of the way his team battled in the second half.
"A lot of times we can overcome a bad offensive performance by playing hard, and we didn't do that in the first half," he said. "I definitely thought we turned it up a notch in the second half."
The Wildcats never found their shooting stroke, though. They were 12 of 43 (28 percent) from the field.
Connor Hoskins led Buckhorn with 13 points.
As soon as LCA wrapped up its victory, Trimble said the players were talking about their rematch with NewCath.
"We remember that feeling last year at halftime (when NewCath led 52-18), and at the end of the game.
"We just didn't have our best effort."
Valentine wasn't around for that loss. He's in his first year as Eagles coach, but he thinks they're better equipped this time around.
"They're hungry, they've been there, they know what it takes, and I think they'll be ready to go tomorrow."