Tates Creek boys beat LexCath, 54-49

Tates Creek's Ryan Fucci, left, ripped away a rebound from Lexington Catholic's Taylor Martin. Fucci scored 14 points.
Tates Creek's Ryan Fucci, left, ripped away a rebound from Lexington Catholic's Taylor Martin. Fucci scored 14 points.

If three-point gunners, high-flying slammers or bulky-beast rebounders are your basketball cup of tea, Tates Creek wouldn't suit your taste.

But if you like tenacious, smart defense played for 32 minutes, the Commodores are your kind of team.

No. 13 Tates Creek bared its defensive teeth in a 54-49 victory over No. 5 Lexington Catholic Friday night in a grueling district showdown.

"You have to do what you can," Commodores Coach Wayne Breeden said.

"There are teams around that have great three-point shooters, and teams around that can really pound you inside. But the only way for us to be successful against good teams is to play total, solid, team defense."

That total, solid, team defense showed up against host Lexington Catholic. Tates Creek had 15 steals and limited the Knights to 36 percent shooting.

"That's kind of how we've been all year," Commodores senior Ryan Fucci said. "We take pride in being one of the best defensive teams in the state, and I think we showed that tonight."

Tates Creek had its problems against the Knights' defense, but then this is a Commodores' team that's barely shooting 40 percent for the season and sometimes struggles to score.

But the visitors generated more than enough offense against Lexington Catholic, getting a lift from the complementary players around stars Fucci and Marcellus Barksdale.

Junior guard Darius Gibson led the winners with 15 points. He also had three steals, three assists and three rebounds.

Sophomore Braxton McFarland contributed 11 points off the bench.

Fucci had 14 points, including four clinching free throws in the last 11 seconds, eight rebounds and six assists.

Barksdale had 10 points, nine rebounds and four steals.

"Our other guys have developed some confidence, and we're able to find them in spots where they can be valuable and help us win games," Breeden said.

Lexington Catholic was led by Taylor Martin's 15 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and three steals. Scott Schuette had 12 points.

Tates Creek never trailed after riding an 11-0 run to an 18-9 lead late in the first quarter.

Lexington Catholic closed the gap before halftime, but the Commodores pulled away to 11-point leads several times in the second half.

But the Knights weren't finished.

Down 49-38 with just over three minutes left, they went on an 11-1 run, sparked by a pair of three-pointers by Brian Woomer, to make it 50-49 with 23 seconds left.

Both teams then exchanged turnovers in a wild flurry of action before Fucci wound up at the line and cashed two free throws, giving Tates Creek a 52-49 lead with 11 seconds remaining.

The Knights' shot to tie it — a three-pointer by Schuette — missed. Fucci snagged the rebound and iced the win with two more free throws with 2.9 seconds left.

"It was a hard-fought game with a post-season atmosphere," Lexington Catholic Coach Brandon Salsman said.

"Unfortunately, we had some critical turnovers at key moments, some of them unforced.

"We've gotta strive to get better."

TATES CREEK (12-2) Barksdale 4-11 2-4 10, Fucci 4-14 5-6 14, Gibson 5-6 4-6 15, McFarland 4-8 3-4 11, Mack 1-3 0-0 2, Bradley 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 19-46 14-20 54.

LEXINGTON CATHOLIC (13-4) Martin 5-11 5-6 15, Schuette 3-14 3-4 12, Floyd 3-4 7, Woomer 2-8 0-0 6, Beckham 2-4 2-3 7, Talbott 1-2 0-0 2, Keller 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-44 10-13 49.

Tates Creek 18 8 12 16—54

Lexington Catholic 12 9 9 19—49

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