COVINGTON — Stan Mays scored 26 points to lead Episcopal to a 68-54 victory over the Northlake Christian in a Class 2A first-round playoff game at Northlake Christian.

The Knights (25-8) held a 51-48 lead with 3:59 remaining in the game. Episcopal outscored the Wolverines 17-6 the rest of the way including going 11 of 13 from the free-throw line.

“We work on free throws every practice,” said Mays. “We know we have to make free throws to win in the playoffs and beat a team like Newman.”

Episcopal will host the top-seeded Greenies on Friday night in the regional round.

The Knights made 11 of 15 field goals in the second half and made all five attempts in the fourth quarter. They shot 22-32 (69 percent). The Knights also made 21 of 28 free throws.

“When you shoot that well, we should have won by a bigger margin,” said Episcopal coach Chris Beckman. “We got some quality shots, but we struggled early blocking out and gave Northlake some second shots and that got us down early.”

The Wolverines (21-9) jumped out to a 10-1 lead with 4:56 to go in the first quarter on a three point play by Josh O’Rear. The lead grew to as much as 10 points at 14-4 with 2:43 remaining in the first quarter. The Knights closed the quarter on a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to 16-13 at the end of the period. Mays hit a 3-pointer to draw Episcopal to 14-9 and made a layup with two seconds left to make the score 16-13. O’Rear led the Wolverines with 27 points.

Mays layup tied the game for the first time at 19-19 with 4:13 remaining in the first half. Mays gave the Knights the lead for good at 27-25 on a layup with 2:08 to go in the first half.

Episcopal led 29-26 at halftime and bolted to a 38-30 lead with 4:11 left in the third quarter. The Wolverines drew within three points twice, but failed to get any closer.

John Davis scored 14 points for the Knights including seven points in the fourth quarter.

“John Davis did a fabulous job of catching and shooting,” Beckman said. “He was a benefactor of our guards’ quickness.”

Spencer Kleinpeter added 11 points for Episcopal.

Dane Landry scored 17 points for Northlake Christian. The Wolverines made 20 of 47 (43 percent) of their field goals. But Northlake hit just 4 of 16 3- pointers for the game.

“The score doesn’t reflect the closeness of this game” said Northlake coach Sean Englert. “They made their free throws down the stretch, and we couldn’t score at the end.”

The Wolverines made just 1 of their last 9 field goal attempts.