STRAFFORD — Jake Lafferty might be wise not to take in the long-awaited Buc-ee’s I-44 opening a week from Monday, given the world’s largest gas station’s close proximity to Strafford.
Strafford’s annual Route 66 Days probably wouldn’t be a good idea for him, either.
The Sparta senior has no plans to return to Strafford anytime soon, after leading the Trojans to a 67-61 victory against the Indians at the Strafford Tournament on Saturday.
Lafferty was given an ice-cool reception by the Indians’ fans.
“I heard a lot of things today I didn't want to hear,” he said.
It was all too obvious the Strafford faithful haven’t forgotten Lafferty sticking his tongue out while hovering over an Indians player following a dunk during last season’s Class 3 District 11 championship game. If they needed a reminder, they received a nudge in the form of a KY3 article this week re-living the incident.
“After last year, I don’t think I can and I don’t think I ever will,” Lafferty said when told he’ll never be able to run for mayor in Strafford.
Lafferty responded to the heckling by collecting 26 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots. He delighted Sparta fans by posterizing a Strafford player on one of his two dunks and one of his blocks also had Trojans fans screaming and raising their hands in approval.
Lafferty admitted Strafford’s fans got the best of him when he was shooting free throws. He was only 7-for-13 at the foul line.
“They were trying to get in my ear at all times and I was doing my best to drown them out,” Lafferty said. “But at the free-throw line it was a lot more quiet.”
He wouldn’t have wanted the atmosphere to be any different.
“I live for this stuff,” Lafferty said. “When I can't hear (my teammates) talking to me from 10 feet away, it makes it more fun This is what I do and I love it.”
“This is what makes high school athletics so much fun,” Sparta coach Deric Link said of the festive atmosphere.
Link noted Strafford fans had done their homework, based on what they were yelling at Lafferty.
“In this era of social media, everybody knows everybody,” Link said. “When I was growing up in Fair Grove, I knew the kids in Strafford. But I didn't know everybody else around the area. Now, the student sections know things about you, so they're going to try to do things to get in your head. That's what makes it all fun.”
Last season, Sparta and Strafford also met in the Strafford Tournament title game and had a rematch in the post-season. They won’t face off in the playoffs this season, with Strafford having been bumped up to Class 4.
"They're scared of us," Lafferty joked.
If there is a rematch, it will have to be at the Blue & Gold Tournament. Fans from both sides, as well as Lafferty, are hoping the Trojans and Indians are in the same bracket and play again.
“That’d be fun,” Lafferty said.