The stinging loss to the Spring Hill Raiders in the second round of the last year's district tournament in Lewisburg has been a sore that would not heal for the Marshall County Tigers until Tuesday night at their place when Kedren Johnson lifted his team on his back in an 82-81 win.
Johnson scored 42 points in the game, but none bigger or mare dramatic than the super-sophomore's last bucket coming with 3 seconds left in overtime on an end-to-end lay-up, securing the regular season District 10-AA title for the second consecutive year.
"I knew I had to get to the basket and I knew ten seconds was enough time to do it," said Johnson. "After the shot went in all I was thinking about was getting back on defense so they would not score. This is big, bigger than the Brentwood win to begin the season. This is back-to-back district championships for us and it feels great."
The Tigers were in the same exact scenario last season before suffering the humiliating loss at home to the Raiders in the district tournament that sent them on the road to David Lipscomb where their season ended.
Asked if that would happen again, Johnson said, "Nope, not this time. Hopefully not."
MCHS head coach Jason Tigert has guided the Tigers to a 21-5 record on the season and said about Johnson's effort in the ballgame versus Spring Hill; "We wanted him to have the ball in that situation. He had a big night and he made a big play. I told the guys after the game to enjoy this tonight and get back to work tomorrow. The real action starts next week."
It was senior night in Spring Hill with festivities taking place before the boys took the court.
When they finally took to the hardwood, the two squads played to a 15-15 first quarter draw.
With the score 23-22 in favor of the Raiders Johnson went off, scoring nine straight points to give the Tigers a 31-27 lead. Johnson would score 13 points in the second quarter, edging his team in front 38-33 by halftime.
The two squads traded buckets to begin the second half before a circus shot lay-up and foul shot by Brandon Burns, followed by a beautiful pass by Johnson to Broderick Tears for another lay-up that gave the Tigers an eight point lead at 45-37, forcing a Spring Hill timeout with 5:56 left in the quarter.
The Raiders would cut the third quarter lead to five on three different occasions before the Tigers pulled out in front by eight to end the period with MCHS leading 58-50.
The fourth quarter was one for the ages, started by an immediate Spring Hill comeback as the Raiders reeled off nine straight points, the last three on a long bomb by Montrae Brown, giving the home team a 59-58 lead with six and half minutes remaining.
Brown's three-pointer was answered in kind by one from Johnson from the top of the key, beginning an incredible stretch of long range shooting by both teams. In eight possessions, the two squads sank seven treys with three of the missiles coming from Burns, who was unconscious.
By the time the barrage was over there was 3:24 left to play in the ballgame and MCHS led 70-67.
Freddie Currie scored for Spring Hill and the Raiders had a chance to tie after a Tiger turnover.
Johnson stepped up on the defensive end, standing in for a charge, giving the rock back to the Tigers.
The score remained the same until the 1:26 mark when Johnson threaded the needle with a pass to Hunter Osborne for a reverse lay-in and a 72-69 Tiger lead.
Johnson made two free throws with 1:05 left and it looked like Marshall County was in control at 74-69.
Spring Hill's Diangelo Williams nailed one of his five threes on the night at the 36 second mark, cutting the Tiger lead to two points.
Johnson was fouled with 34 seconds left and buried both for a 76-72 lead.
Kielan Banks was fouled and made two of two from line for the Raiders with just 26 seconds left.
The Tigers were fouled and missed both free throws and Spring Hill called timeout with 19 seconds remaining.
The ball came in from the sideline as the Raiders went into their offensive set. After a missed shot, Williams was there for the follow, tying the game at 76.
Johnson heaved up a shot from half court that just missed, sending the game into overtime.
Both squads missed two free throws apiece before the Raiders took a 78-76 lead on a Currie bucket.
Johnson came up big once again on a driving off-balance lay-up and was fouled. The sophomore nailed the charity shot, giving Marshall County a one-point 79-78 lead with just under two minutes to play in OT.
Duncan muscled in a basket in the paint for Spring Hill, see sawing the lead back to the Raiders.
The Tigers turned the ball over, sending the Raiders down court where they missed, but Duncan got the rebound and went up where Osborne was waiting to swat the ball away.
Cameron McCullough scored in a driving lay-up for the Tigers at the 1:42 mark, giving MCHS an 81-80 lead.
Spring Hill called timeout with under a minute to play. Osborne stole the ball out of the timeout and the Raiders fouled with 30 seconds left. MCHS had a chance to ice the game, but missed both free throws, giving the ball back to Spring Hill.
With 10 seconds left, Jordan Sanderfer was fouled. Sanderfer drained both foul shots, giving the home team a one-point 82-81 lead.
MCHS got the ball in bounds and into the hands of Johnson who weaved his way up-court and down the lane where he floated up a lay-up that spun around and in with 3 ticks left.
The Raiders got the ball to midcourt and played beat the buzzer and lost, giving the Tigers the regular season district crown with the 83-82 victory.
The Tigers will open up district tournament play Tuesday night in Lewisburg.