The Marshall County Tigers (23-5) advanced to the District tournament championship game for the first time in five years by whipping arch rival Giles County 73-52 in the semifinals Friday night at Spring Hill High School.
Although MCHS had swept the regular season series against the Bobcats, the Tigers had a tough time with Giles County (10-14) on both occasions and won the two contests by a combined 12 points.
Marshall County, however, disposed of the Bobcats with relative ease Friday, as they built a 35-22 lead in the first half before opening up a 23-point advantage midway through the fourth quarter en route to claiming their seventh straight victory.
"This game is arguably more important than the championship game. This win gives us a chance to host a first round game in the Region tournament. We played really well tonight," said MCHS head coach Jason Tigert.
Giles County averaged 67 points in the two regular season encounters against the Tigers, but Marshall County tightened the screws defensively and held the Bobcats to 18 field goals on 34 percent shooting.
"I was pleased with our effort. We really got after it defensively," said Tigert. "During Blaise Spencer's absence we were forced to defend better because we couldn't just outscore people anymore."
Offensively, MCHS buried Giles County with a barrage of three-pointers and knocked down 10-of-23 attempts from beyond the arc, while finishing with 26 field goals on 47 percent shooting. The Tigers also grabbed 10 offensive boards and out rebounded the Bobcats 39-25 overall.
Hunter Osborne spearheaded Marshall County's long range assault and drilled six treys to finish with a game high 22 points and nine rebounds.
Kedren Johnson and Brandon Burns each tallied 12 points for the Tigers as well, and Broderick Tears added 11 points. Johnson also registered 12 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and three blocked shots, while Burns notched six rebounds and four assists.
Blaise Spencer (five points), Cameron McCullough (four points), Cory Duvall (four points), and Brock Spencer (three points) rounded out the scoring for MCHS.
Chris Bledsoe paced Giles County with 15 points, while Dominique Harney notched 11 points. Darius Gardner and Logan Hamby had eight and six points respectively for the Bobcats as well.
Giles County held an 8-7 lead midway through the first, before Marshall County put together a 10-2 spurt with the help of four points from Duvall and an Osborne three to seize a 17-10 advantage late in the quarter.
The Bobcats narrowed the gap to 19-15 early in the second, but MCHS ripped off seven straight points on two Burns free throws, a layup by Tears, and a Spencer trey to extend their lead to 26-15 midway through the period.
After Giles County trimmed the deficit to 29-22, Tears and Osborne buried consecutive three-pointers in the final minute of the half to give the Tigers a 35-22 advantage at the break.
In the third, the Bobcats quickly closed the gap to 35-26, but Marshall County responded with a 17-9 run, highlighted by two treys from Osborne and a Burns three, to push their lead to 52-35 late in the period.
Gardner scored on a layup to make it 52-37 at the end of the third, before the Tigers opened the fourth with a 12-4 burst behind seven points from Osborne and four points from Tears to forge a 64-41 advantage with 4:20 left in the contest.
After Giles County tallied nine straight points to cut the deficit to 64-50, MCHS outscored the Bobcats 9-2 the rest of the way thanks to four points from Johnson and a Brock Spencer trey to cap their 73-52 triumph.