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‘The guys just responded.’ Bryan Station survives challenge from Sayre in district semis.

Bryan Station High School took the state by storm this season after getting off to a 16-1 start and jumping up the boys basketball rankings.

But after losing five of their last 11 games, including troubling setbacks to 42nd District rivals Scott County and Henry Clay, Defenders head coach Champ Ligon had cause for concern.

And with their win-or-go-home district tournament semifinals game against Sayre tied 38-38 at the end of three quarters Tuesday, the worries mounted.

“I’ve been worried all week. I’ve been worried since a month ago. Our district is so strong, it really doesn’t matter who you play, they’re capable of beating you,” Ligon said. “It was going to be a nail-biter no matter what. … We knew we were going to be in for a dogfight.”

Ligon’s top-seeded Defenders answered the challenge with a 10-2 run to start the fourth quarter on the way to a 58-51 victory over the Spartans Tuesday at Henry Clay High School. The win advanced Bryan Station (23-6) to Friday’s 42nd District finals and next week’s 11th Region Tournament.

Bryan Station’s Amari Owens (5) celebrates drawing a foul against Sayre during the 42nd District Tournament semifinals at Henry Clay High School on Tuesday. Owens scored 20 points to lead the Defenders.
Bryan Station’s Amari Owens (5) celebrates drawing a foul against Sayre during the 42nd District Tournament semifinals at Henry Clay High School on Tuesday. Owens scored 20 points to lead the Defenders.

Daeveon Adams scored four of his six points to start that decisive run, and sophomore standout Amari Owens capped it with four of his game-high 20 points. Owens’ back-to-back layups midway through the fourth quarter put Bryan Station up 48-40. Sayre got no closer than five the rest of the way.

“We just kept it going. We worked hard, played defense and locked in,” Owens said. “All we’ve got to do is play hard and execute and we’ll be good.”

Teammates Rashaad Faulkner and Justin Richmond each had steals during that sequence. Taeshawn Adams got a block and Felix Gonzalez tipped in a putback basket along the way. Taeshawn Adams finished with 17 points.

“Everybody’s stepping up and making plays,” Ligon said. “Sayre gave us some knockout blows and the guys just responded. … We had a lot of people step up tonight.”

The Spartans (21-10) battled throughout and grabbed their last lead at 38-36 with 3:06 left in the third quarter on a Chase Parker 3-pointer. But Sayre made only three baskets on 15 attempts in the fourth quarter and committed three turnovers that led to five Bryan Station points. Brock Coffman led Sayre with 19 points. Ian Reesor scored 17. Parker added 10.

Bryan Station finished the regular season on a sour note with road losses to Henry Clay, Eastern and Madison Southern over the last two weeks. But a district finals and region tournament berth indicates the Defenders learned some lessons.

“We had a couple of games down the stretch that we let get away from us and tonight, we kind of flipped the switch on that and with the game on the line, we made plays to win,” Ligon said.

The Defenders have their sights set on their first district title since 2008, which was part of Ligon’s first coaching stint on the Northside. It will be Station’s first district finals appearance since 2018. They’ll face the winner of Wednesday’s game between Frederick Douglass and Henry Clay.

Owens is aiming even higher.

“(Tuesday’s win) means a lot, but we’re trying to get to state,” Owens said. “That’s the main goal. We can be whatever we want. We’ve just got to play up to our expectations.”

The Frederick Douglass bench celebrates a teammate scoring against Scott County during the 42nd District Tournament semifinals at Henry Clay High School on Tuesday.
The Frederick Douglass bench celebrates a teammate scoring against Scott County during the 42nd District Tournament semifinals at Henry Clay High School on Tuesday.

42nd District girls: Douglass rolls

Ayanna-Sarai Darrington scored 24 points and grabbed 18 rebounds while Niah Rhodes added 17 points that included going 5-for-6 from 3-point range as top-seed Frederick Douglass routed Scott County 84-48 in the girls 42nd District Tournament semifinals on Tuesday at Henry Clay.

The Broncos, defending district and 11th Region champions, outscored the Cardinals 27-8 in the third quarter to take command of the game and secure their place in Friday’s district finals and next week’s region tournament.

Ten different players scored for Douglass (20-10). Reagan Gregonis rounded out the double-digit scorers with 12 points.

The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for Douglass, which has taken on some of the toughest opponents in the state down the stretch in an effort to prepare for the postseason. The Broncos’ 10 losses include a who’s who of top 25 teams — Butler (twice), Cooper, George Rogers Clark (twice) and Sacred Heart.

“We’ve got to learn how to execute better and put games away, especially games where we’ve been in position to win and we haven’t,” Douglass coach Daryl Moberly said. “We’ve got to limit our turnovers and value that ball better.”

Those losses also include district rival Henry Clay, a potential finals opponent on Friday if the Blue Devils survive Wednesday’s matchup with Bryan Station. Henry Clay overcame a double-digit second-half deficit to Douglass in its 71-65 win Dec. 12. Turnovers were a major factor in that game.

“It’s been very seldom this year that we’ve had less than 15 turnovers a game, but when we have, we’ve been very successful,” Moberly said.

Maleiyah Moore and Nmya Summers led Scott County (11-15) with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

43rd District boys: Lexington Catholic cruises

Tyler Doyle led four players in double figures with 23 points Tuesday as No. 2 Lexington Catholic defeated Lafayette 85-54 in the 43rd District Tournament semifinals at Lexington Christian.

The Knights’ John Reinhart and Miller Williams added 13 points each while Rowen Williams chipped in 10 points in the rout.

LexCath (29-2) outrebounded the Generals 37-17 including an 18-5 edge on the offensive glass.

Lafayette (9-22) was led by Peyton Prichard’s 10 points.

43rd District girls: Lafayette tops Dunbar

Lafayette’s Belle Combs notched a double-double with 24 points and 16 rebounds as the top-seeded Generals (18-12) defeated Paul Laurence Dunbar 49-37 in Tuesday’s 43rd District Tournament semifinals at Lexington Christian.

Point guard Anna Clay Denton contributed nine points and seven assists as the Generals controlled from the outset, leading 16-6 after one quarter and 37-20 after three periods.

Ellie Lavey led Dunbar (14-16) with 13 points.

Lafayette advances to Friday’s finals and will take on the winner of Wednesday’s game between Lexington Catholic and Tates Creek.

42nd District tournaments

At Henry Clay

WEDNESDAY

Girls: Henry Clay (20-9) vs. Bryan Station (15-12), 6 p.m.

Boys: Henry Clay (24-6) vs. Frederick Douglass (18-12), 8 p.m.

FRIDAY

Girls championship: Frederick Douglass (20-10) vs. Henry Clay-Bryan Station winner, 6 p.m.

Boys championship: Bryan Station (23-6) vs. Henry Clay-Frederick Douglass winner, 8 p.m.

43rd District tournaments

At Lexington Christian

WEDNESDAY

Girls: Lexington Catholic (7-22) vs. Tates Creek (16-13), 6 p.m.

Boys: Lexington Christian (14-14) vs. Paul Laurence Dunbar (11-19), 8 p.m.

FRIDAY

Girls championship: Lafayette (18-12) vs. Lexington Catholic-Tates Creek winner, 6 p.m.

Boys championship: Lexington Catholic (29-2) vs. Lexington Christian-Dunbar winner 8 p.m.

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