Marcellus Barksdale is only a sophomore, but he already has the mind-set to keep a basketball team ticking at tournament time.
"You just find a way to win because it's survive and advance right now," Barksdale said after leading Tates Creek to a 58-47 victory over host Paul Dunbar in the 43rd District opener Monday night.
Dunbar beat its city rival twice this regular season.
"But we beat them when it counted," said Barksdale, who had 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Ryan Fucci, his sophomore running mate, had 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists as Tates Creek earned a date with No. 11 Lexington Catholic in Wednesday's semifinals.
The Commodores executed their game plan on both ends of the court against Dunbar.
On defense they checked the Bulldogs' set plays and limited the effectiveness of Dunbar big man Tyler Rogers.
In their last meeting, the 6-foot-8 Rogers had 24 points and 13 rebounds.
"That wasn't going to happen again," Tates Creek Coach Wayne Breeden said.
It didn't. Rogers, who was nursing a bad knee and ankle, had four points and nine rebounds.
Dunbar senior guard Nick Hudson, slowed by a bruised tailbone, had 12 points in the first half but only five in the second.
"We played good team defense," Breeden said. "We contested their shots and blocked out."
On offense, Tates Creek spread the floor a lot, letting Barksdale and Fucci find openings to the basket.
"That was our philosophy because we didn't think they could match up with us," Barksdale said.
Myles Potter came off the bench, didn't miss a shot and had eight points and five rebounds.
Hudson's 17 points led Dunbar. Tod Lanter had 10 points, all in the second half. Marquis Clay also had 10 points.
Dunbar was within 30-28 early in the second half, but then its offense died. The hosts scored only nine points over the next 11 minutes as Tates Creek pulled away.
The Bulldogs, who were rated in the top 10 in the state in January, lost eight of their last 12 games and fell out of the Top 25.
"We just couldn't get it together toward the end of the year," Coach Carl "Redd" Hutchinson said. "This is the result when you don't have team chemistry, when you don't have that all-for-one and one-for-all attitude.
"Do I take the blame for that? I don't know."
Hutchinson credited Tates Creek for outplaying his Bulldogs. "We shot 38 percent and they shot 50 percent; they shot 26 free throws, and we shot seven. They were poised, and we were a step slow."