Vandy, Alabama hot on Johnson's tail

Friday, February 12, 2010

Marshall County High School junior sensation Kedren Johnson had his two biggest suitors on hand Thursday night in Lewisburg as Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings and Alabama coach Anthony Grant were in attendance watching Johnson and the Tigers stomp the Lincoln County Falcons 69-39 in the regular season finale for both squads.

Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings and Alabama coach Anthony Grant have a laugh before the game Thursday night.

Johnson scored 19 points, showcasing his versatility on both ends of the floor with several powerful drives down the lane for scores, at least three pinpoint assists on fast break buckets, and 5 rebounds and a big block at the defensive end that started break-outs for the Tigers.

Earlier in the week Johnson was named District 12AA regular season MVP and is a solid candidate for one of the top three spots for Class AA Mr. Basketball.

Marshall County's Kedren Johnson shined in the SEC spotlight Tuesday in Lewisburg, guiding his team to a big 69-39 win over Lincoln as Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings and Alabama coach Anthony Grant watched. Tribune photo by Anthony S. Puca

Of all the schools pursuing Johnson, Vandy and Alabama have been the most conspicuous from the start, showing up in Lewisburg on several occasions and on the road to see Johnson.

It is an exciting time for junior, who has said on multiple occasions that he will make his collegiate choice before the start of his senior season.

Johnson is used to the spotlight, relishing and embracing the bright lights with a sandlot smile on his face in pursuit of his boyhood dream of playing NCAA and NBA hoops.

That smile grows even larger every time Johnson makes one of teammates happier and that is what must impress SEC coaches like Stallings and Grant.

Marshall County head coach Jason Tigert always sings praises on Johnson's attitude and leadership and said about the travelling coach's caravan recruiting Johnson, "He has gotten used to it; it is almost every night now. He plays hard every possession and when he does, he is tough to handle."

Early in the second quarter versus Lincoln County, Marshall County was leading 28-21 after giving up over half the 15-point lead they had built after one quarter when Johnson took over the ballgame, scoring 7 points on trips down lane, three points on a long bomb from the top of the key, cleaning the glass on defense, and dishing twice to the wing for Brock Spencer treys.

By the time the Johnson and the Tigers were done, the score was 50-28 at the end of the half.

Johnson scored on a drive down the lane to begin the second half and followed that one possession later with a no-look pass to Jamie Perryman on a fast break opportunity that he could have easily converted himself.

The Tigers were fired up from the Johnson assist and in an instant it was 64-28.

Johnson and the starters were summoned to the bench by Tigert for the remainder of the ballgame as the Tigers took win number 20 on the season.

Tigert has now guided the Tigers to three consecutive twenty win campaigns, compiling a 68-19 record and region tournament appearances every season.

MCHS took it one step further last season, garnering a sectional berth, but lost at steamy Bolivar Central 71-44.

Tigert is not looking too far ahead and said after the Lincoln County game, "Getting twenty wins is exciting, we are proud of that, but now Hickman County comes to town and the playoffs are what it is all about."

The No. 9 ranked Tigers' biggest competition in the District 12AA Tournament and Region 6AA event should be longtime foe Spring Hill and the No. 8 ranked Creekwood Red Hawks.

Due to the TSSAA realignment, Tigert's Tigers will not see Bolivar if they advance to a sectional game this season, instead taking on the likes of CPA, Lipscomb, East Literature, Maplewood, Macon County, or White House.

MCHS opens up the district tournament Tuesday versus Hickman County at 7:00 p.m. in Lewisburg before the remainder of the tourney moves to Page on Thursday.

Marshall County's last state tournament appearance was in 2001-2002 when the lost 77-46 to Ridgeway in the title game.