The Marshall County Tigers kept themselves in the hunt for the District 10-AA regular season title by thrashing the Hickman County Bulldogs 76-43 at home Friday night to remain a game behind first place Spring Hill.
Having defeated Hickman County 84-63 earlier in the season, the Tigers (18-5, 10-1 District) overcame a sluggish start and built a 39-17 lead by halftime, before outscoring the Bulldogs 37-26 over the final two quarters to roll to the 33-point victory.
After seeing his team fritter away big leads several times during the season, Marshall County head coach Jason Tigert was glad to see his players deliver the knock out blow to an opponent.
"We hadn't finished games earlier this year, but tonight we finished," said Tigert. "I think we've learned lessons from those games. We've got to create tempo, defend, rebound, and do all the little things. We've needed to develop some mental toughness and be able to withstand other teams' runs."
Hickman County (7-14, 1-9 District) slowed down the pace of the game early on, but the Tigers turned up the heat defensively and had great success pressing the Bulldogs. MCHS recorded 18 steals and forced 22 Hickman County turnovers, while limiting the Bulldogs to 17 field goals on 36 percent shooting.
With their press creating numerous easy scoring opportunities, Marshall County finished with 32 field goals on 47 percent shooting, which included a 12 of 21 effort in the second quarter. The Tigers also knocked down nine three-pointers and grabbed 13 offensive rebounds.
"We were not anticipating that style of attack from Hickman County in the first quarter. They played stall ball and we were expecting more of an up and down game. It took us a whole quarter to adjust," said Tigert. "Tempo is everything. We're not good at a slow down game. We used our press and did some other things to increase the tempo of the game."
Senior guard Hunter Osborne canned three treys and led four Tiger players in double figures with 17 points to go along with eight rebounds, two steals, and two blocked shots.
Kedren Johnson and Brandon Burns tallied 12 points apiece with Johnson also registering six assists, six steals, five rebounds, and two blocked shots. Dominic Matthews and Broderick Tears added 11 and nine points respectively for the Tigers as well, while Cory Duvall had six points. Cameron McCullough, Dillon Stinnett, and Dre Lyttle rounded out the scoring for Marshall County with three points each.
Shooting guard D.J. Key was the lone bright spot for Hickman County and paced the Bulldogs with 18 points and 13 rebounds, while Anthony Hutchinson, Andy Brown, and Ross Elliot tallied seven, six, and five points respectively.
Hickman County battled MCHS to a 10-10 in the opening quarter before notching the first four points of the second to claim a 14-10 lead with 7:05 left in the period.
Marshall County, however, hit the Bulldogs with a sledge hammer by putting together a 29-2 run on the strength of seven points from Tears, a pair of Burns three-pointers, and five points from Osborne to forge a 39-16 advantage late in the half prior to taking a 39-17 lead into the break.
After Hickman County trimmed the deficit to 39-21 early in the third, the Tigers engineered an 18-5 spurt thanks to eight points from Osborne and four points apiece from Burns and Johnson to stretch their lead to 57-26 at the end of the quarter.
MCHS then rested their starters in the fourth but still outscored the Bulldogs 19-17 in the period behind nine points from Matthews and a couple of treys from Stinnett and Lyttle to cap their 76-43 win.