No. 1 Eastern's 14-game winning streak came to a grinding halt Wednesday night as No. 5 Tates Creek pulled off a 52-46 upset that had a familiar look to it.
Less than two weeks ago, Tates Creek did a similar defensive number on pre-season No. 1 Jeffersontown, beating the Chargers 57-44.
"The way we've won all year is by trying to be solid defensively," Coach Wayne Breeden said. "You don't want to say 'win ugly,' but this is the 18th time we've done it."
Eastern came to town averaging 72 points; Tates Creek was giving up an average of 45.
The Commodores' sticky style won out.
Tates Creek (18-3) was the better team offensively, too.
Ryan Fucci, a 6-foot-3 senior, led the way with 26 points. Marcellus Barksdale, a 6-4 senior, had 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Fucci didn't consider it an upset.
"We feel like we're one of the best teams in the state and that we can compete with anybody," he said. "We had a great game plan and came out and played well."
Tates Creek's strategy was to slow the tempo, zone Eastern's athletic playmakers and force them to shoot from outside, and attack the basket on offense.
"We did a pretty good job containing Eastern's dribble penetration," Breeden said. "And we did a pretty good job blocking out.
"We had a lot of guys step up. I was proud of the way they responded to the challenge."
Darius Gibson and Braxton McFarland combined for 14 points, and Todd Bradley bodied up inside.
Eastern's four Division I signees had a fairly ordinary night.
Remy Abell (Bradley) had 13 points but was 6-for-17 shooting. Lyonell Gaines (IUPUI) had 12 points and eight rebounds. Kameron Woods (Butler) had 10 rebounds but only two points. Arman Marks (James Madison) had seven points.
Eagles Coach Jason Couch credited Tates Creek's defense for limiting his team to 40 percent shooting.
"We've been zoned a lot this year, but the difference between Tates Creek's zone and everybody else's is they match up a lot better out of it. They make it frustrating."
This game was supposed to be played the first week of the season but was snowed out. Couch said there was a reason he wanted to reschedule it for this week.
"I thought it was important to come on the road and play in an atmosphere where every possession meant a lot.
"You can run and gun all you want, but when it comes to the post-season, it's about getting down to half-court, valuing the ball and getting some stops. That's why this game was a real good experience for us."
Eastern (21-2) had run off 14 victories in a row since it lost to Jeffersontown in the King of the Bluegrass finals the week before Christmas.
EASTERN (21-2) — Abell 6-17 0-0 13, Gaines 5-11 2-5 12, Woods 1-6 0-0 2, Marks 3-5 0-0 7, Sanford 3-6 1-2 7, Blade 1-1 0-0 2, Taylor 0-1 0-0 0, Corlew 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 20-50 3-7 46.
TATES CREEK (18-3) -— Fucci 11-20 2-2 26, Barksdale 3-10 3-7 10, Gibson 2-4 4-6 8, Bradley 1-1 0-0 2, Mack 0-2 0-0 0, McFarland 2-4 2-2 6. Totals 19-41 11-18 52.
Eastern 15 9 11 11—46
Tates Creek 13 13 14 12—52