Lafayette’s girls basketball team had battled regional co-favorite Franklin County Saturday, winning the semifinal matchup with the Lady Flyers.
The Generals were in another battle Sunday, taking on Dunbar in the 11th Region Tournament championship game at the Frankfort Convention Center.
Lafayette trailed at halftime, and head coach Allison Denton had a simple message for her team.
“It’s our turn,” she told the Generals at the break. “You decide what you want to do.”
The Generals decided they wanted to make the trip to the state tournament this week, and that’s what they’ll do after beating Dunbar 53-40.
“I’m just so proud of these girls and the school,” Denton said. “They had goals set, and they reached them.”
Lafayette (27-3) was in the regional championship game last year, losing to Madison Central.
After a tough game with Franklin County Saturday, Lafayette got off to a slow start Sunday.
Dunbar, which went 1-3 against the Generals this season, led 14-11 after the first quarter and 24-23 at halftime.
“They were trying to slow it down a little bit, packing it in, and we needed to get them running up and down the court,” Denton said. “We had to go man and we picked up our intensity a little bit.
“We were expecting (a zone), but they really cut off (Dee) Givens. The two times we beat them, she went baseline every time. They made adjustments, and in the third game in six days, our legs were not there. We tried to walk them through situations.”
The Lady Bulldogs were still ahead midway through the third quarter, 29-26, but Lafayette went on a 10-0 run to end the period.
During the run freshman Kiara Pankins hit two 3-pointers. She finished with a game-high 25 points as Givens, selected as the tournament’s most valuable player, struggled.
“All season long it’s been Dee carrying us,” Pankins said, “so today I said, ‘well let me step up and I’m going to carry the team.’”
Givens finished with 15 points but was 4 for 17 from the field, including 0 for 6 from 3-point range. She scored 10 points in the second half.
The Generals played a deliberate offense in the fourth quarter, and the first point of the period came on a free throw by Lafayette’s Sarah Cooley with 5:40 left in the game.
LHS pushed the lead to 10, 41-31, with 4:13 remaining, and its largest lead was 13 points, 51-38, with 26 seconds left.
“They’re a great team,” Dunbar coach Sarah Bridenbaugh said. “We did what we needed to do in the first half, but got away from that in the third quarter and they pulled away at the end.”
Lafayette shot 37 percent with Pankins and Givens its only double-digit scorers. Cooley led the Generals with 13 rebounds.
Dunbar (25-8) had three players in double figures, led by Brooke Todd with a double-double of 13 points and 14 rebounds. ShaKeema Turner scored 12 points, and Ezzy Ighodaro chipped in 10.
Lafayette will play Glasgow in the first round of the state tournament Wednesday at 8 p.m. (CDT) in Bowling Green at Western Kentucky University.
DUNBAR (40) — Ezzy Ighodaro 10, ShaKeema Turner 12, Brooke Todd 13, Nicole Armstrong 2, Kristina Rosen 3.
LAFAYETTE (53) — Dee Givens 15, Kiara Pankins 25, Sarah Cooley 9, Ashanti Thomas 4.
To see more photos from the game, click here.