It may have been the most important week to this point in the season for the LaFayette boys. The Bulldogs were riding a five-game winning streak heading into the games last week, and were playing their best ball of the season. But they were still stinging from two Area 8 losses earlier in the season, and there was much to be proved when LaFayette got the opportunity to avenge those losses last week.
The Bulldogs responded with statement wins over Reeltown and rival Lanett to secure the No. 2 spot for the upcoming area tournament. In addition to those wins, the Bulldogs ended the week with their eighth consecutive victory over Loachapoka. LaFayette is now 17-4 with just two more regular season games remaining.
LaFayette’s most unbelievable loss of the season came against Reeltown on December 8, and the Dog’s were determined not to see a repeat when the two teams met again on Tuesday. The Bulldogs were red-hot the entire game, jumping out to a 17-7 lead on their way to a 75-52 win.
Several players stepped up for the Bulldogs, including Jatarvious Whitlow, who led all scorers with 20 points. Trevond Barnes finished with 18 points, including 11 in the first half.
The showdown with Lanett was all it was expected to be. With the Dog Palace packed to the rafters, the Bulldogs and Panthers engaged in a battle that provided intensity throughout.
After exchanging baskets over the first five minutes, LaFayette took a lead they would hold until end of the first quarter. The Dogs led 21-16 going into the second, but the Panthers went on an 8-0 run over the span of one minute to take the lead. LaFayette then battled back to regain the lead with five minutes to play. The lead would change hands three more times before the Dogs pulled ahead to a 37-34 edge at halftime.
LaFayette would maintain their advantage throughout the third quarter, leading by as much as eight at one point. They would head to the fourth with a 50-44 lead, one they would never relinquish.
With four minutes to play, the Bulldogs had pulled ahead by 14, but two questionable technical fouls allowed Lanett to catch up. The Panthers cut their deficit to five with 56 seconds to play, but Barnes hit four straight free throws to secure the 66-57 win.
The Bulldogs did an excellent job spreading out their scoring in the win. Three players reached double digits, led by Barnes’ 15 points. Barnes and Kaminski Bledsoe each scored six points in the fourth quarters, with Bledsoe totaling 12 points for the game. Maurice Foster was especially impressive in the second half and finished with 10 points.
Riding the emotional high from Friday, there was some concern that the Bulldogs would stay focused when they hosted Loachapoka Saturday. That concern went out the door right from the start.
LaFayette opened the game on a 22-8 run and would go on to destroy the Indians 76-24.
One LaFayette player had a career night in the win. Kentrel Holloway got hot from behind the three-point line early in the second quarter and he didn’t cool off the entire night. Holloway finished with seven three-pointers for a game-high 21 points.
Barnes was once again solid with 16 points, while Whitlow scored nine.
LaFayette will try to keep rolling as they close out their regular season this week. They will be going for season sweeps against Dadeville, who they will face on Friday, and Valley, who they will host on Saturday.
*For full story see this week’s print edition of The Sun.