The Marshall County Tigers (7-2, 2-0 District) finally conquered their house of horrors Saturday evening when they traveled to Pulaski and defeated the Giles County Bobcats 71-62.
Having lost their last seven games at Pulaski by an average of 26.7 points, Marshall County appeared to be in danger of suffering yet another defeat at the hands of the Bobcats, as Giles County (2-3, 1-1 District) held a 47-41 lead late in the third period.
The Tigers, however, saved their best for last and outscored Giles County 25-8 over the next seven minutes to seize a 66-55 advantage with 2:27 left in the fourth quarter before eventually claiming the nine-point victory.
"This is a really big win for us. This has always been a tough place to play so I didn't care how we got it done tonight. I would have been happy if we won by one point or a hundred points," said MCHS head coach Jason Tigert.
Marshall County struggled with their outside shooting through the first three quarters and shot only 38 percent from the field (20-53) during that span, which included a 3 of 24 effort from three-point range. Fortunately, the Tigers found the range in the fourth period and hit 8 of 12 shots over the final eight minutes, highlighted by three treys, to finish 28 of 65 from the floor overall.
"We just didn't shoot well tonight, but we did hit some timely shots. The experience of our seniors really showed tonight in the fourth quarter," said Tigert
The Bobcats tallied 25 field goals on 40 percent shooting and knocked down 6 of 17 attempts from beyond the arc, but failed to cash in at the foul line and converted just 6 of 16 chances at the charity stripe.
Giles County also grabbed 15 offensive boards and out rebounded Marshall County 41-25 overall, but offset that by committing 23 turnovers, compared to only 12 miscues by the Tigers.
Sophomore forward Kedren Johnson turned in perhaps the best performance of his MCHS career and helped keep Marshall County in the game through the first three quarters. Johnson scored a game high 30 points on 11 of 14 shooting to go along with four rebounds, four steals, three assists, and two blocked shots.
Senior guard Hunter Osborne followed Johnson with 14 points and pulled down 14 rebounds for the second straight game. Cameron McCullough also notched nine points and four assists for the Tigers, while Blaise Spencer had six points. Brandon Burns, Broderick Tears, and Dominic Matthews tallied four points apiece to round out the scoring for MCHS.
Shooting guard Dominique Harney and reserve guard Darius Jones each had 12 points to pace Giles County, while Kadijon Townsend and Hakeem Dartis added 11 and 10 points respectively.
Johnson came out on fire and poured in 11 points in the first two and half minutes of the game to stake the Tigers to an early 11-4 lead.
The Bobcats then began to heat up offensively and went on a 23-8 run to grab a 27-19 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
Marshall County fought back and put together a 15-7 spurt behind five points from Johnson and four points from Osborne to knot the game at 34-34 late in the second but Townsend drilled a three-pointer in the closing moments of the period to give Giles County a 37-34 lead at the break.
The Bobcats then outscored the Tigers 10-7 through the first six and a half minutes of the third quarter to open up a 47-41 advantage.
MCHS though seized the momentum at the end of the period, as Osborne buried a three from the right wing before McCullough scored on a lay up in the waning seconds of the stanza to make it 47-46.
"That was huge. Giles County is a young team and if you let them keep building the lead they start gaining more confidence. I think those five points at the end of the third took something out of them," said Tigert.
After McCullough hit another lay up at the start of the fourth to put Marshall County up 48-47, the lead changed hands three more times before MCHS engineered a 16-4 run, highlighted by a pair of Spencer treys and a three-point play by Johnson, to take a 66-55 lead.
Jones scored five quick points to cut the deficit to 66-60, but Johnson made a couple of free throws and Osborne canned a trey from the right corner to give the Tigers a 71-60 advantage with forty seconds left before Marshall County took home the 71-62 win.