The eighth-ranked Marshall County Tigers were in the midst of a seven game winning streak leading up to the District 10-AA title game at Spring Hill Tuesday night versus the Page Patriots and had beaten Page twice already this season by an average margin of 12.5 points per game.
The Tigers were looking to capture their first district tournament title since the 2001-2002 season when they defeated the Patriots 63-47 in the title game before advancing all the way to the Class AA state tournament title game versus Ridgeway where they ended as runners-up.
The run and gun Tigers ran into a determined Page squad Tuesday night that out hustled and out rebounded the Tigers, handing MCHS a 76-64 loss.
Page out rebounded the Tigers 38-26 with 21 of those boards coming on the all-important offensive end, giving the Pats too many second and third chance opportunities that they cashed in on.
"They came to play tonight," said Marshall County's Hunter Osborne after the game.
Osborne added, "We thought the game was going to be easier than it was. They out rebounded us and they were stronger than us down low. It is disappointing, but I think we will bounce back Saturday night."
With the Tigers ahead 4-3, early in the game, Marshall County got a hot hand from Brandon Burns and Blaise Spencer, who nailed back to back three-pointers for a 10-3 lead.
After a Page miss, Kedren Johnson scored on a nice over the top pass from Burns to make it 12-3 and it looked like the Tigers would control the action in their usual up-tempo style.
Page would cut the lead to four points at 17-13 before Spencer nailed another trey with just seconds left in the first quarter, giving MCHS a 20-13 lead after the first eight minutes.
Cameron McCullough scored on a driving lay-up for the Tigers beginning the second quarter, but Page scored five straight to make it a 22-18 ballgame.
The lead would stay at four points for the Tigers for much of the period until Burns hit a three-pointer, giving the Tigers a seven-point bulge with just over a minute to play in the first half.
Matt Hastings came off the bench to spark the Pats with two long three-bombs, bringing Page to within one at 33-32.
A late miss by Marshall sent Page the other way where they went ahead with just seconds left on a rebound and put-back by Dylan Pitts for 34-33 halftime lead.
Johnson re-gained the lead for the Tigers on a rebound and put-back of his own on early in the third period.
It was the last time Marshall County would lead in the ballgame.
Page began to bang the boards in earnest, building the lead to eight points very late in the quarter before Osborne went downtown for a trey and a Johnson drive down the lane with seconds left made the score 58-53 in favor of the Pats, going into the final period.
Johnson scored to start the final stanza and after a hustle play on the floor by McCullough sent the Tigers into a timeout with 6:37 left in the game.
McCullough scored out of the timeout, cutting the Page lead to a single point at 58-57.
JC Knox scored in the paint for the Pats, before Osborne drained a three-pointer, tying the game at 60.
The two squads traded baskets for a 62-62 tie before the bottom fell out on the Tigers when Page went on the back breaking 14-2 run to end the game, securing their first district tournament title since the 2002-2003 season.
The Tigers (23-6) take on Martin Luther Kink Magnet School (13-8) in a Region 5-AA opening round match-up at the Dottie Kelso Memorial Gymnasium in Lewisburg on Saturday night at 7 p.m.
"We have not played a region game at home in a long time and we have to come out strong to take it," said Osborne.
Johnson scored 25 points to lead the Tigers in the scoring column, Osborne netted 18 (4 treys), Burns scored 8, McCullough had 7, and Spencer finished with 6 points.
Houston Bagsby, the tournament's MVP led Page with 16 points and Knox scored 15.