During the growth of Kentucky high school lacrosse over the past decade, Henry Clay and Scott County have developed at different paces and existed in separate universes, never playing one another until Tuesday night's state quarterfinal game in Lexington.
Henry Clay showed that separation, pulling away quickly in the second quarter on its way to an 18-8 victory.
It didn't happen, though, without an early scare from Scott County, or another classy, building-block performance by the Cards, who closed out the finest season in school history with a dozen wins against only four defeats. Three first-period goals — one by Jack Stewart, then consecutive strikes from Brice Willoughby — staked SC to a 3-2 lead at the initial checkpoint.
Six unanswered connections by Henry Clay, each from a different attacker, put the Blue Devils (15-4) in complete command before Willoughby scored again with 27.4 seconds remaining in the half.
Henry Clay put its balance and depth on display again in the third period, amassing eight goals from six different sources to put the issue far out of reach.
Willoughby (four goals, one assist) and Stewart (three goals) each went out in style with a hat trick in their final game for Scott County.
Seth Quackenbush added the other goal for the Cardinals, who received 20 saves from goalie Nicholas Withrow.
Nathan Krebs led the SC resistance with team highs of eight ground balls and four defensive stops. Willoughby added six scoops, with Micah McClave netting five and Austin Holt four.
Nolan Doss and Colten Reynolds scored three goals apiece to lead Henry Clay, whose losses this season are to Louisville prep powers St. Xavier and Trinity in addition to opponents from Missouri and Indiana.
SC earned the quarterfinal date with its first playoff win in school history, 12-6, over Madison County on Friday.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.