After suffering their first District loss of the season against Spring Hill four days earlier, the Marshall County Tigers picked up an important win on Tuesday by defeating third place Page 71-60 at home with the help of a stellar all-around performance by sophomore forward Kedren Johnson.
Marshall County (15-4, 7-1 District) outworked the Patriots (11-6, 5-3 District) through the first three quarters of play and built a 52-38 lead during that span, before surviving a mistake plagued fourth period to hold on for the 11-point win.
"This win keeps us near the top of the District standings. Any District win especially against a team like Page is a good one," said MCHS head coach Jason Tigert.
Although the Tigers hoisted 15 three-pointers in the contest, hitting three, Marshall County made a more determined effort to drive the ball into the paint than in previous games. As a result, the Tigers finished with 28 field goals on 50 percent shooting and attempted seven more free throws than the Patriots while outscoring Page 12-9 at the foul line.
"That was a major focus the last couple of days. We can't continue to play basketball like we still have Blaise Spencer on the floor. We had to make adjustments," said Tigert.
MCHS did commit 18 turnovers, including nine in the fourth quarter, but out rebounded the Patriots 36-31 and grabbed 12 offensive boards.
Page, conversely, committed 16 turnovers and shot just 38 percent from the field (24-64), which included a 3 of 20 effort from beyond the arc.
Johnson displayed his full array of skills against the Patriots, as he scored a game high 26 points on 9 of 18 shooting, pulled down a career high 17 rebounds, dished out seven assists, recorded seven steals, and blocked four shots. Hunter Osborne also tallied 16 points and six rebounds for MCHS, while Brandon Burns and Dominic Matthews each had nine points and four rebounds.
"We talked to Kedren and Hunter that we needed more offensive production from them. We have to get the ball into the lane and get to the foul line more and they're the ones that can do that for us," said Tigert.
Broderick Tears (six points) and Cameron McCullough (five points) rounded out the scoring for Marshall County.
Houston Bagsby paced the Patriots with 16 points, while Dylan Pitts added 13 points. Matt Hastings, Jeff Roberts, and Taylor Fly notched eight, seven, and six points respectively for Page as well.
Marshall County set the tone early and built an 18-9 lead in the first quarter behind six points from Johnson and a pair of three-pointers by Osborne and Matthews.
The Patriots scored the first two baskets of the second to narrow the gap to 18-13, but the Tigers responded with an 8-0 spurt thanks to four points apiece from Johnson and Osborne to open up a 26-13 advantage with 2:45 left in the period.
After Page cut the deficit to 29-21 late in the second, Burns hit a layup in the closing seconds of the quarter to give MCHS a 31-21 lead at halftime.
Marshall County then outscored the Patriots 21-17 in the third on the strength of six points from Johnson and four points apiece from Osborne, McCullough, and Matthews to forge a 52-38 advantage.
Aided by a slew of fourth quarter mistakes by the Tigers, Page put together a 13-4 run to whittle the deficit to 56-51 with 4:27 left in the game.
Johnson though scored on an offensive put back and hit one of two free throws to steady the ship for Marshall County before Osborne converted a pair of foul shots to push MCHS' lead to 62-51 with 2:49 left.
The Patriots made one final rally attempt and closed the gap to 64-58 with 1:20 remaining, but the Tigers scored the next five points on a Burns layup and three free throws to open up a 69-58 advantage en route to capturing the 71-60 victory.