By Michael Cuneo –
The Fayette County boys’ basketball team knew precisely who they were playing on Feb. 12 as they faced McDonough in the Boys Region 5 AAAA final. The two sides had met twice in the 2021-2022 season, with McDonough tasting victory on both occasions.
The third time was indeed the charm for Fayette, who defeated their divisional foes 68-60 to hoist the trophy and earn a spot in the state playoffs for the second year in a row.
“I’m feeling great about the game.” Fayette head coach Andre Flynn said after the victory. “We came in playing McDonough, who was ranked number one in the state in 4A and happened to be in our region, and they had beaten us twice, so it was a challenge for us.”
A late resurgence from McDonough saw the team draw within 5 points as they entered the fourth quarter. However, the team couldn’t find the consistency or cohesion needed to mount a comeback, ultimately getting desperate and resorting to forced fouls as time dwindled.
Catapulted by a powerful yet unsurprising standout performance from star point guard and 6’8 Indiana signee Kaleb Banks, Fayette played with a continuity they simply lacked in games prior. While Banks finished the game with 21 points and 12 rebounds, McDonough’s Da’Avion Thomas led all scorers with 30 points.
Flynn remarked about his team’s toughness, whose majority of losses came from playing larger 7A schools.
“We played both the games [against McDonough] pretty close, and this third one was like a classic. We went toe to toe, they had a good team, and I feel like we have a good team. With the schedule we play, I am so proud of the guys. We play 7A, 6A teams … I’m very proud of them.” Flynn said.
The win moves Fayette to 20-8 on the season and, more importantly, into a guaranteed spot in the state playoffs which kick off on Feb. 22.
For McDonough, the loss moves the team to 23-2 on the season.
For now, Fayette will bask in the glory of holding the region title for the second year in a row, a piece of motivation and validation that solidifies the dominance of the team.