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Girls district finals: Douglass earns back-to-back titles; Tates Creek edges Lafayette

Frederick Douglass forward Ayanna-Sarai Darrington’s clutch play in the paint and at the free-throw line in the second half helped the Broncos earn their second straight 42nd District Tournament championship with a 61-50 win over host Henry Clay on Friday.

Eleven of Darrington’s 15 points came at the free-throw line after halftime as she led a pair of key stretches for Douglass in the third and fourth quarters.

She had five free throws and a putback during an 8-1 run to end the third that gave Douglass a 49-42 lead. After Henry Clay narrowed it to 49-47 with 5:26 to go, Darrington got an offensive rebound and foul to start a 12-3 Broncos run to put the game away.

“It’s a lot of pressure just knowing you have to make those. You’re in crunch time. It’s just going back to basics and knowing how to push through,” Darrington said. “We’ve been practicing them nonstop. They were big.”

Jaylee Knowles also had 15 points for the Broncos. Darrington also had a game-high 17 rebounds, eight on the offensive end, and four blocks. Niah Rhodes and Kate Baker added 12 and 11 points, respectively, for Douglass, who split their regular-season series with Henry Clay.

“I knew there was going to be a lot of tension with them beating us back in the past, but we just had to pull through and play as a team,” Darrington said.

Henry Clay (21-10) got 15 points from Timmari Miller and 11 from Lydia Van Metre and frustrated the Broncos with a tenacious defense that attempted to deny and trap Darrington in the post.

And the Blue Devils’ strategy to go at Darrington on the offensive end early paid off with two quick fouls that sent the Central Michigan signee to the bench for most of the first half.

Van Metre’s first 3-pointer put Henry Clay up 16-15 early in the second quarter. Her second 3-pointer narrowed the Douglass lead to 30-27 just before halftime.

Frederick Douglass coach Daryl Moberly knew he wanted to get Darrington “back in the mix” in the second half. The Broncos were able to pull away despite only making six of 23 field goal attempts.

“It was tough. I feel like the ball was sticking a little tonight, but they were playing some great D, too,” Moberly said of Henry Clay.

Turnovers have been an issue for Douglass all season, but they limited themselves to 11 on Friday and outrebounded Henry Clay 39-32.

“I told them, ‘I want layups and free throws right now. Be smart, take care of the ball and put the game away,’” Moberly said.

As a district champion, Douglass (21-10) will get to host its first-round game on Monday in the 11th Region Tournament. As runner-up, Henry Clay will also advance to the region tournament. The semifinals and finals will be played at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. The region draw was scheduled for Saturday.

All-tournament team: Ayanna-Sarai Darrington, Jaylee Knowles, Niah Rhodes, Frederick Douglass; Timarri Miller, Lydia Van Metre, Henry Clay; Kailyn Gentry, Bryan Station; N’mya Summers, Scott County; Kathryn Kinder, Sayre.

Frederick Douglass’ Ayanna-Sarai Darrington, right, blocks a shot by Henry Clay’s Timarri Miller during the 42nd District Tournament championship game.
Frederick Douglass’ Ayanna-Sarai Darrington, right, blocks a shot by Henry Clay’s Timarri Miller during the 42nd District Tournament championship game.
The Frederick Douglass girls team celebrates its victory over Henry Clay in the 42nd District Tournament championship game on Friday.
The Frederick Douglass girls team celebrates its victory over Henry Clay in the 42nd District Tournament championship game on Friday.

Tates Creek takes 43rd District

A young Tates Creek roster showcased its growth over the course of a lesson-filled season in its 53-50 victory over Lafayette in the 43rd District Tournament championship on Friday night.

Senior forward Ashton Harris (12 points) and freshman guard Kaleigh Potts (23 points), the tournament’s MVP, orchestrated a clean offensive attack while pestering the Generals through four quarters.

Junior forward Isabelle Combs led the way for the Generals (18-13) with a 16-point, 14-rebound double-double. Junior forward Tess Nelson joined Combs in double figures in scoring with 12 points.

Tates Creek (18-13) head coach Jana Costner knew the key to this year’s title was disrupting Lafayette’s zone.

“We can get downhill really well,” Costner said. “So I knew that if we could ever get them out of the zone that that was gonna be our bread and butter for the game tonight. I was just really impressed, we had nine turnovers in the whole game, so I mean just did a great job taking care of the ball and defensively, we just stuck to our normal game plan.”

Harris praised her team’s growth in protecting the ball, a point of focus earlier in the season.

“Only nine turnovers? Crazy,” Harris said. “At the beginning of the season, we were having like 15-plus in the first half. So to keep it down to nine, super proud, super proud of the maturity and the patience that we showed with the ball tonight.”

Competitive from the jump, Tates Creek and Lafayette traded leads for the entirety of the game with both teams finding — and losing — leads as large as seven. In fact, Tates Creek led by seven with 14 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, but a quick layup for the Generals and an early celebration by the Commodores — wherein the bench emptied with three-tenths of a second remaining on the clock — granted Lafayette a pair of free throws due to the consequent technical assessed, cutting the lead to a single possession just before time expired.

“I have really, really, really young kids,” Costner said. “And that is all I’ve been saying all year. So I mean, I told the refs I was like, ‘Yeah, do what you gotta do.’ But they’re young, just seventh and eighth graders, like, they didn’t know.”

Tates Creek’s roster features just three upperclassmen, and 11 players between seventh and ninth grade. After graduating some key pieces from last year’s roster, the Commodores have had to step up in new ways. Most notably, Potts’ entry as the team’s point guard.

“Her mindset is just a gift to others,” Costner said. “But she also has a lot of tricks in her bag, so she can do a lot of different things. She can dribble-drive, she can shoot outside, she’s great defensively. And she’s not exactly a point guard, but she stepped up to the role and like, I just went with her because she had the confidence to do it.”

Potts said the roster’s adjustments this season show just how far the hard work has brought them.

“Just working every day at practice really helped us and trying our best,” Potts said.

Both Tates Creek and Lafayette advanced to next week’s 11th Region Tournament.

All-tournament team: Sophie Pridemore, Lexington Christian; Layla Flynn, Paul Laurence Dunbar; Alivia Morris, Lexington Catholic; Anna Clay Denton, Isabelle Combs, Lafayette; Ashton Harris, Miracle Morbley, Kaleigh Potts, Tates Creek.

Tates Creek’s Chloe Byrd (33) moves the ball down court during the girls 43rd District Tournament championship game on Friday.
Tates Creek’s Chloe Byrd (33) moves the ball down court during the girls 43rd District Tournament championship game on Friday.

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