Senior point guard Darius Gibson has been Tates Creek's bread-and-butter guy all season, especially in December and January when, if he didn't play well, the Commodores were toast.
But here it is February and Tates Creek is bringing more to the table as it showed in beating host Bryan Station 51-46 Thursday night.
Gibson, averaging a team-high 15 points, picked up his third foul in the opening minute of the second quarter and sat out the rest of the half.
Tates Creek Coach Wayne Breeden admitted that would have been a dicey scenario for his relatively inexperienced team earlier this season.
"Without Darius Gibson, we would've been in real trouble," he said. "But tonight, on the road, another senior guard stepped up and had a great game."
Breeden was referring to Brian Tilford, whose energetic play sparked the Commodores to victory. He had 11 of his 14 points in the first half, and he also finished with three assists and three rebounds.
"I knew I had to step up and help the team," Tilford said. "Every team we play focuses on Darius, so I knew I had to be the guy to take some of the pressure off him."
Tilford's highlight play of the night came with the clock winding down in the first half. Tilford was dribbling the ball out beyond the top of the key when Breeden shouted at him to go for it. Tilford drove around the right wing and swooped in for a layup.
"With post-season approaching, that's what you're happy to see — guys showing confidence in their game and ability to make a great play like that," Breeden said.
But this was a joint effort by the Commodores.
Freshman Jordan Fucci was strong inside, getting 12 points and eight rebounds. Junior Braxton McFarland contributed eight points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots, including a huge one in the closing minute.
Gibson wound up with nine points, seven rebounds and three assists. Daiquan Epps added seven points, three rebounds and two steals.
Of course it was a fight to the finish. Tates Creek's previous five games included a triple-overtime win over Paul Laurence Dunbar, and overtime losses to Madison Central and Franklin County.
"That's been our modus operandi all year," Breeden said. "We've been in a lot of basketball games, and we've finished some, and some we haven't been able to finish.
"Tonight a lot of guys stepped up and made big free throws and got some big rebounds to help us win."
Tates Creek's defense did its job, limiting Bryan Station to 28 percent shooting, including just 21 percent (6-for-28) in the second half. The Defenders didn't score in the last three minutes.
Bryan Station was led by Jaylen Beckham's 16 points, three rebounds and three steals. Marcus Williams had 13 points, 10 rebounds and three steals.
"We're just not executing," Coach Mike Allen said.
"We're not consistently coming out of timeouts and carrying out assignments offensively or defensively."
Allen also pointed to rebounding as a weak spot.
"The margin of error for my team is very slim. We're outsized every game, so our guards have to collectively rebound. We haven't grasped that concept yet."
TATES CREEK (12-14) — Gibson 4-14 1-2 9, Tilford 4-7 5-8 14, Fucci 5-7 2-4 12, McFarland 2-7 4-6 8, Epps 2-4 3-6 7, Mattox 0-6 0-1 0, Love 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 17-46 16-29 51.
BRYAN STATION (10-19) — Beckham 6-15 2-4 16, Williams 4-16 4-7 13, Washington 1-6 0-0 2, Harris 2-6 1-3 5, Hipps 3-8 1-1 8, Smith 0-4 0-0 0, Alcorn 0-1 2-2 2, Walker 0-1 0-0 0 Allen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-57 10-17 46.
Tates Creek 18 14 11 8—51
Bryan Station 14 16 10 6—46