They went 27 years without a championship. Now they can’t stop winning them.
BY JOSH MOORE; firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated February 23, 2018 11:45 PM
Lexington Christian Academy is starting to make a habit of winning boys’ basketball championships.
It took 27 years for LCA to win its first district crown, a feat it finally managed last season. The Eagles claimed their second after a 72-46 rout of Lafayette in the 43rd District finals Friday night at home.
The second straight district championship is right on the heels of a championship victory in the All “A” Classic in late January, another first by the Eagles. They entered the 43rd District tournament as the third-seeded team but were ranked sixth statewide in the Cantrall Ratings. LCA lost only twice since the calendar turned over, both times to Lexington Catholic, whom it overcame in a thrilling finish in the tournament semifinals on Tuesday.
It was the Eagles’ third victory over Lafayette this month, all by double digits. Both teams will play in the 11th Region tournament next week in Richmond; the tournament draw is Saturday morning.
“I think we’re playing well, there’s no doubt about it,” said LCA Coach Nate Valentine. “The guys are playing with a lot of confidence right now. We’ve had great leadership, and we’ve been there before. These guys are ready to get on to next week. We’re excited about what lies ahead.”
Kyle Rode, a junior with multiple Division I offers, was named MVP of the tournament. He finished with 33 points on 9-for-13 shooting — he was 4-for-4 from beyond the arc — as well as six rebounds and nine assists.
Rode’s contributions this week went beyond the box score, though. Valentine’s grandmother died earlier this week and he was unable to attend practice on Thursday. He knew that his team was in good hands because of his staff and Rode’s leadership.
“I wouldn’t trade Kyle Rode for anybody in the state,” Valentine said. “ … I’ve said it before: I could walk out of here for two weeks and these guys would just keep it rolling. He’s like a son to me. Man, I love that kid.”
Seniors Carter Hendricksen, a North Florida signee, and Austin Hall, who’s headed to the University of the Cumberlands, both finished with seven rebounds apiece. Hendricksen had 20 points and Hall had 14.
LCA was ranked eighth in the state last season when it fell to Madison Central by one point in the first round of its first 11th Region tournament. The Eagles will face either Bryan Station, Madison Southern or Frankfort in the first round this year; they didn’t play MadSouth but won by 24 points at Bryan Station last week and toppled Frankfort by 35 points in the 11th Region All “A” Classic finals.
“Our goal’s been to get in the region and make a run at it,” Valentine said. “Whoever we have to play is who we have to play. There’s not an easy out in the 11th Region tournament. I think we’ve been tested. We went through the All ‘A’ and went through the toughest district in the state, so I’ve got a lot of confidence in these guys.”
Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps