Tates Creek boys' basketball coach Wayne Breeden probably got a crick in his neck watching Paul Laurence Dunbar outrun Lexington Christian Academy 84-79 in a free-wheeling, up-and-down shootout Thursday night.
But Breeden knew that when LCA visited the Commodores Friday night, the only way the teams would combine for anything close to 163 points would be if they played a doubleheader.
Sure enough, defense-minded Tates Creek clamped down on the No. 25 Eagles and beat them 49-41. (That's 73 fewer points on the scoreboard than the night before.)
"You have to do what you can do, and what this team can do is play defense," Breeden said after his Commodores beat LCA for the seventh time in a row.
Tates Creek's top priority in its game plan?
"Take away LCA's three-point shooting," junior Braxton McFarland said. "That's what we focused on."
After LCA's Tyler Harville hit two three-pointers in the first four minutes of the game, the Eagles went 1-for-18, including 0-for-9 in the second half.
"After we gave up 18 points in the first quarter, I said that's not gonna happen the rest of the night," Breeden said.
LCA totaled 23 points over the final three quarters, and shot 22 percent in the second half.
"We got beat on some dribble penetration because we pressured the ball too hard and they got in the lane on us," Breeden said. "But overall we did a great job defensively."
LCA Coach Tommy Huston wasn't surprised.
"Defense, that's Tates Creek's game," he said. "It hard to get clean looks over here. They're really quick and a great defensive team."
In a nine-minute span that began late in the first half and carried over into the third quarter, LCA managed just two points. It missed 15 of 16 shots in that stretch.
On offense, McFarland said the Commodores followed their coach's orders. "We wanted to push it when (LCA) missed," McFarland said, "but if they made, we wanted to slow it down, control the pace and get an easy shot down low."
McFarland, a 6-foot-4 junior, worked the baseline for 13 points and also had six rebounds. Senior point guard Darius Gibson ran the show. He had 13 points, including 6-for-10 free throws, six rebounds and three assists.
Jordan Fucci, a 6-4 freshman, had seven points and 14 rebounds. Vincent Mattox came off the bench to hit a pair of threes.
McFarland has seen Tates Creek "come a long way" since the season started. He and Gibson are the only players with much varsity experience, "but we figured as the months went by the young guys would catch on. We're getting there."
LCA was led by Harville's 15 points. Taylor Barnette, a 6-2 senior who has signed with Central Florida, was held to 10 points (11 below his average) on 4-for-13 shooting. He hurt his ankle midway through the fourth quarter.
Despite the loss, Huston was upbeat.
"I'm so proud of my guys. They played a tough game last night at Dunbar and had to lay it on the line," he said.
"We came back tonight and showed a lot of grit against a tough team. I told them we're going to be fine. Nobody's going to want to play us at tournament time because we've got grit."
LEXINGTON CHRISTIAN (9-5) — Barnette 4-13 2-2 10, Harville 6-15 0-0 15, Nicodem 1-11 2-2 4, Lannertone 4-8 0-0 8, Branham 1-4 0-2 2, Blair 1-4 0-0 2, Stein 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-56 4-6 41.
TATES CREEK (8-7) — Gibson 3-13 6-10 13, Tilford 1-3 1-2 3, McFarland 6-9 1-1 13, Fucci 2-5 3-6 7, Mattox 2-5 0-0 6, Grimes 1-2 0-0 2, Epps 2-2 1-3 5. Totals 17-39 12-22 49.
Lexington Christian 18 5 10 8—41
Tates Creek 16 13 9 11—49