Tates Creek boys' basketball coach Wayne Breeden can forget about his new year's resolution to not let stress pester him on the bench.
"There's a reason coaches like myself keep aging and not aging gracefully," Breeden said with a wry smile after his 15th-ranked Commodores pulled out a 56-49 victory over visiting Lexington Christian Academy Tuesday night.
Tates Creek looked like it was on its way to a comfortable victory when it built a 29-12 halftime lead and still held a 17-point spread late in the third quarter.
But LCA, which has played all 12 of its games on the road, came roaring back.
The Eagles, fresh off a stunning upset at Scott County Saturday night, went on a 25-8 run to tie it at 44 with 2:40 left in the game.
But Tates Creek responded, as Marcellus Barksdale noted.
"Everybody for the most part kept their heads, and we were able to make clutch free throws and get the win," said the 6-foot-3 junior, who had 13 of his 15 points in the second half, including six straight foul shots down the stretch.
Ryan Fucci, a 6-foot-2 junior, led Tates Creek with 17 points and five rebounds.
Ezra Garner and Miles Potter were big inside, combining for 13 points and 13 rebounds.
"I'm proud of the way we persevered and the way we stepped up and made enough plays to answer their run," Breeden said.
LCA put itself in a deep hole with an awful first half.
The Eagles made turnovers on nine of their first 12 possessions and missed nine of 12 shots.
Tates Creek was able to pull away even though Barksdale got two quick fouls and sat out most of the half.
LCA's trapping defense got the Eagles back in the game. It forced the Commodores into a string of turnovers in the third quarter.
"We got passive, and that's the last thing you want to do against pressure," Breeden said.
Evans, a versatile 6-7 senior, carried the offensive load for LCA by scoring 15 of his 22 points in the second half. He also had seven rebounds.
Branden Burdette came off the bench to get 12 points, and Taylor Barnette had 10.
While LCA's rally was stirring, it wasn't quite enough.
Coach Tommy Huston said his team lost the game twice.
"We lost it in the first half when they hit us in the mouth and we didn't respond," he said. "And we lost it in the fourth quarter when Barksdale had four fouls and we didn't attack him enough to get him out of the game.
"But our kids showed a lot of grit in making a great comeback.
"I do know it'll be nice to have a home game now. I think that'll help our confidence."
LCA hosts Clark County, another pre-season top-10 team, on Saturday night.
Tates Creek, meanwhile, must learn how to play with a big lead.
Breeden said there's plenty of time for that.
"It's Jan. 5," he said. "We've seen how we're progressing, and we know the areas we have to work on and improve on if we want to be successful in post-season play.
"That's what we're all shooting for right now."
LEXINGTON CHRISTIAN (7-5) — Evans 22, Barnette 10, Burdette 12, Stephens 3, Gullett 2.
TATES CREEK (8-5) — Barksdale 15, Fucci 17, Garner 8, Potter 5, Daugherty 5, Gibson 6.
LCA 7 5 19 18 —49
Tates Creek 20 9 9 18—56