GEORGETOWN — A few halftime adjustments were all Tates Creek needed to solve Male's pesky 2-3 zone defense.
The Commodores used a 16-0 run to take a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter on the way to a 68-53 win over the Bulldogs and a spot in Saturday's finals of the Toyota Classic at Scott County High School.
Point guard Ryan Fucci scored a game-high 22 points to help the Commodores knock off the Bulldogs, ranked No. 20 in Dave Cantrall's Rating the State.
"Most importantly, he had seven assists and two turnovers and goes 12-for-12 from the free-throw line," Tates Creek Coach Wayne Breeden said of his 6-foot-2 sophomore. "Those are all things that great guards do."
Tates Creek will play the host Cardinals in Saturday's championship game at 9 p.m.
Down 13-12 after the first quarter, Male (12-6) switched to a 2-3 zone. The zone frustrated Tates Creek (9-7) and Male went on an 8-0 run to regain the lead.
Male forward Tony Horne scored eight of his team-high 20 points in the second quarter and the Bulldogs took a 28-21 lead at the half.
But Tates Creek got its offense in sync after the break and started to attack the zone.
"We knew we could break 'em down; we saw a lot of gaps and adjusted at halftime," Fucci said. "We just executed our offense."
After the Commodores shot 0-for-6 from beyond the arc in the first half, Tates Creek forward Marcellus Barksdale hit the team's first three-pointer late in the third quarter to pull the Commodores even at 35-35.
A Fucci jumper at the buzzer, aided by a friendly bounce off the front rim, put Tates Creek up 37-35 going to the fourth, their first lead since early in the second quarter.
Tates Creek would score eight more unanswered points until Male's Tyler Reynolds scored underneath with 4:43 to play. Reynolds' basket ended an eight-minute Male scoring drought that saw its six-point lead turn into a 10-point deficit.
"We just couldn't make shots. We were stuck in the 30s for about three years," Male Coach Tom Crews said of his Bulldogs, who were 0-for-8 from the floor and 0-for-2 at the foul line during the drought.
The Bulldogs went to their full-court pressure trying to force turnovers late in the fourth, but they could never cut the deficit to fewer than nine points.
Fucci and Tates Creek routinely broke the Male press, often throwing full-court inbounds passes that led to easy baskets.
"The deep pass was wide open and we had a lot of 3-on-1 situations," Fucci said. "Ninety percent of the time we had wide-open layups, and that really helped us out."
Tates Creek shot 9-for-12 from the free-throw line down the stretch to seal the victory.
Justin Daugherty had 13 points and Barksdale added 12 for Tates Creek.
Fucci was named the player of the game.
"He did an outstanding job of running the club," Breeden said. "We had other guys step up, but he was definitely the key to our success."
Tates Creek (9-7) — Hagan 6, Potter 5, Barksdale 12, Fucci 22, Daugherty 13, Cuyler 6, Garner 4.
Male (12-6) — Hayes 7, Jones 2, Reynolds 10, Winebrenner 3, Horne 20, Glenn 5, Brasher 2, Bell 2, Branch 2.
Tates Creek 13 8 16 31—68
Male 12 16 7 18—53
No. 2 Scott County 82, Adair County 60: Dakotah Euton made six three-pointers and scored a season-high 35 points to lead Scott County (15-3). Euton, a junior forward who has committed to the University of Kentucky, was 13-for-17 from the field and made six of eight three-point attempts. He also had five rebounds and two steals.
ADAIR CO. (14-5) — Helm 6, Fudge 13, Ballou 16, Sandusky 7, Murrell 10, Young 2, Perkins 3, Humphress 3.
Scott Co. (15-3) — Flannery 4, Euton 35, Phares 10, Guyn 12, Jackson 10, Manning 4, Ford 2, Ivey 3, Schu 2.
Adair Co. 10 18 10 22—60
Scott Co. 23 19 15 25—82