Clark County's 48-41 victory over Tates Creek in a match-up of top 10 boys' basketball teams Tuesday night wasn't poetry in motion.
"That was a post-season grinder," Coach Scott Humphrey said after his No. 3 Cardinals escaped No. 7 Tates Creek in the semifinals of the iHigh Fayette County Frenzy.
"It wasn't pretty by any stretch of the imagination. It was the kind of game you'd see in March."
Clark County will play No. 16 Henry Clay in the Frenzy finals at Paul Dunbar on Wednesday night. Henry Clay beat No. 21 Clay County 66-54 in semifinals action at Lafayette on Tuesday night.
Clark County's win over host Tates Creek was similar to its win over Bryan Station in Monday's quarterfinals in that it was close and competitive.
But it was starkly different, too.
Against Bryan Station, Clark County rode the broad shoulders of 6-foot-4 senior Corey Rogers, who had 34 points and 15 rebounds.
Against Tates Creek, Rogers didn't score until midway through the third quarter. His big-man sidekick, 6-9 senior Vinny Zollo, didn't score until the fourth quarter.
Tates Creek's packed-in zone and deny-the-passing lanes defense negated Clark County's size advantage.
On the other end of the floor, the Commodores used a spread offense to isolate their quicker players against Clark County's bigger guys.
Tates Creek's Marcellus Barksdale was most effective off the dribble. He and Ryan Fucci helped stake the hosts to a 23-21 halftime lead.
But Clark County finally started to get the ball inside in the third quarter, with Rogers getting eight quick points.
Zollo asserted himself in the fourth quarter, getting 11 points to go with his 13 rebounds.
Jaylen Daniel led the winners with 13 points, nine in the first half. Robbie Stenzel added nine points.
"We had two tough games in a row," Rogers said. "This one was a good one. It was a team effort, not one guy handling everything."
Humphrey liked the way his veterans didn't get rattled.
"We stayed poised and composed and stuck to the course," he said.
"Tates Creek really took us out of what we wanted to do in the first half, but our guys stayed patient and pounded it inside in the second half."
Barksdale led the Commodores with 17 points and six rebounds. Fucci had 15 points.
Clark County took the lead for good at 40-37 on Zollo's three-point play with three minutes left.
Henry Clay 66, Clay County 54: The Blue Devils were missing point guard Wes Kimball, because of an injury, but they still cobbled together a winning effort against previously unbeaten Clay County.
Senior Brandon Nichols led Henry Clay with 18 points. Freshman Jordan Green had 12 points and seven rebounds.
Daniel Kiesling overcame foul trouble to get 10 points and five rebounds, and Trae Stewart added nine points and nine rebounds.
"It's exciting any time you get to the finals of a tournament," Coach Daniel Brown said.
Matthew Mitchell's 17 points led Clay County, which lost for the first time in eight games.
Clark County (7-1) — R. Stenzel 9, Rogers 8, Zollo 11, Daniel 13, Purvis 7. Totals 16-35 13-15 48.
Tates Creek (5-2) — Barksdale 17, Fucci 15, Gibson 2, McFarland 3, Bradley 4. Totals 17-46 6-8 41.
Clark County 14 7 8 19—48
Tates Creek 9 14 7 11—41
Clay County (7-1) — Mitchell 17, Hooker 13, Roberts 11, Gay 3, McGeorge 4, Whitaker 6. Totals 20-55 7-12 54.
Henry Clay (6-2) — Nichols 18, Stewart 9, Prewitt 8, Green 12, Kiesling 10, Blackburn 6, Parker 3. Totals 23-45 17-30 66.
Clay County 8 14 8 24—54
Henry Clay 14 14 23 15—66