The Marshall County Tigers cleared one final District hurdle Friday before their much anticipated showdown against Spring Hill, as they drubbed the East Hickman Eagles 74-56 on Senior Night behind a dominant first half performance.
After nearly getting upset by Loretto earlier in the week, the Tigers (20-5, 12-1 District) put the game out of reach early on Friday night and forged a commanding 54-20 lead in the first half before coasting to the 18-point win.
"Our guys were upset about our performance against Loretto and they wanted to perform well tonight. You could tell they had a lot of bounce in their step during warm-ups," said MCHS head coach Jason Tigert. "It's nice to send the seniors out with a W on Senior Night."
Thanks to Spring Hill's loss to Page the same evening, the Tigers grabbed a share of first place in the District standings and can claim the regular season championship outright with a win over the Raiders on Tuesday.
Although Marshall County shot a pedestrian 39 percent from the floor overall (24-62), the Tigers scored almost at will in the first half and hit 17-of-33 field goal attempts during that span, which included a 8-of-19 effort from three point-range.
MCHS featured a balanced offensive attack and had six players score at least nine points. Sophomore forward Kedren Johnson led Marshall County with 14 points and five rebounds, and Brandon Burns notched 12 points and three steals. Hunter Osborne and Broderick Tears also added 11 and 10 points respectively, while Cory Duvall and Dominic Matthews each had nine points with Osborne and Duvall both grabbing seven rebounds. Brock Spencer (four points), Dre Lyttle (three points), and Tim Hutton (two points) rounded out the scoring for the Tigers.
East Hickman, conversely, shot a respectable 45 percent from the floor overall (22-49), but hit just 9 of 25 field goal attempts in the decisive first half. MCHS also forced 17 turnovers by the Eagles, including nine in the second period alone.
"The thing I was most pleased about was the way we guarded. We really came out with a lot of energy tonight," said Tigert. "The guys understand it really starts on the defensive end."
Doug Young paced East Hickman (5-15, 2-10 District) with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Tyler Hicks and Dylan Bruner tallied 13 and nine points respectively.
The Eagles inched out to a early 4-3 lead, before the Tigers put their foot on the gas and went on a 20-4 run with the help of three treys from Burns and six points from Johnson to seize a 23-8 advantage late in the first quarter.
After East Hickman trimmed the deficit to 25-13 in the closing seconds of the first, Osborne drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it 28-13 at the end of the period before he and Johnson scored on layups at the start of the second to give MCHS a 32-13 lead.
The Eagles then narrowed the gap to 34-18 midway through the second, but Marshall County closed the quarter with a 20-2 spurt on the strength of six points from Duvall and a couple of treys from Burns and Tears to take a 54-20 lead into the half.
In the third, East Hickman whittled the deficit to 55-28 before Osborne buried consecutive three-pointers to stake the Tigers to a 61-28 advantage midway through the quarter.
Marshall County then began to pull their starters and the Eagles ended the third period with an 8-2 run to close the gap to 63-36 before outscoring MCHS 20-11 in the fourth for the 74-56 final.