Tigers maul Mustangs
The Marshall County Tigers moved to within one win of clinching the top seed in the upcoming District tournament Tuesday, defeating Loretto 64-41 on Homecoming night to complete a season sweep of the Mustangs.
After building a 35-19 lead at halftime, Marshall County (19-4, 11-1 District) opened up a 28-point cushion midway through the third quarter before coasting to victory.
Since losing to Giles County on Jan. 18, the Tigers have beaten their last three District opponents by an average of 16.7 points per game.
"These guys don't like to lose," said Marshall County head coach Jason Tigert. "Our best practices have come after losses. They recharge and re-energize and really want to get better."
Loretto (8-13, 4-8 District) was able to hold three-point sharpshooters Hunter Osborne and Blaise Spencer in check after the two combined for 54 points in the first encounter between the two teams. But point guard Ryan Nicholson and center Deshaun Greer picked up the slack offensively for the Tigers.
Nicholson poured in a game-high 19 points and dished out six assists, while Greer tallied 14 points, two rebounds, one steal and one blocked shot. "I trust these two as much as any players I've ever coached," said Tigert.
Reserve guard Jamie Perryman also turned in a strong effort off the bench for MCHS, registering eight points, eight rebounds, three assists and one steal. Cameron McCullough added seven points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals for the Tigers, and Cory Duvall had six points, three rebounds, and a steal. Scotty Hargrove, four points, Spencer, three points, Broderick Tears, two points, and Cody Henson, one point, rounded out the scoring for Marshall County
Led by Nicholson and Greer, the Tigers shot 50 percent from the field overall (28-56), which included a six-of-14 effort from three-point range. Marshall County limited the Mustangs to just 16 field goals on 36 percent shooting and forced 17 Loretto turnovers, compared to only 10 for MCHS. The Tigers also out rebounded the Mustangs 30-22.
Colin Stout paced Loretto with 11 points, while Zack McDonald had eight points. Lance Dooley and D.J. Smith recorded seven and six points respectively for the Mustangs.
Loretto actually held a 6-2 lead early in the first quarter, but Marshall County quickly settled down and put together an 18-5 run, highlighted by a pair of dunks from Greer and a McCullough three-pointer, to grab a 20-11 advantage with 6:43 left in the second period.
After the Mustangs closed the gap to 20-15 on a couple of baskets by Stout, the Tigers ended the half with a 15-4 burst behind six points from Nicholson and four points by Perryman to forge a 16-point lead at the break.
Marshall County put down the hammer at the start of the third, as they began the quarter with a 16-4 run on the strength of three Nicholson treys and four points from Greer to open up a 51-23 advantage with 3:17 remaining in the stanza.
Smith canned consecutive three-pointers to pull Loretto within 51-29 at the end of the third, but MCHS reeled off the next five points on a Henson free throw and a pair of lay ups by Tears and Perryman to stretch their lead to 56-29 early in the fourth. Marshall County then cleared its bench shortly after that point and the Mustangs outscored MCHS 12-8 the rest of the way for the 64-41 final.