Having won their last eight meetings against the Bobcats, which included a pair of six-point victories during the regular season, Marshall County got off to a red hot start and led by as many as 14 points in the first quarter prior to taking a 40-30 advantage into halftime.
Giles County (23-5) came storming back in the second half and briefly pulled ahead 47-45 early in the fourth period, before the Tigers used a flurry of three-pointers to seize a 61-55 lead with 1:50 left.
The Bobcats then rallied to tie the game at 62-62, but Johnson came through in the clutch once again for MCHS and hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final 22.9 seconds while the Tigers held Giles County scoreless on their final two possessions to escape with the three-point victory.
Thanks to their win over the Bobcats, Marshall County earns a home game in the Sectional round of the playoffs where they will host Region 5-AA runner up East Literature on Monday night.
"At this time of the year, you don't get much time to enjoy a win. We're just excited that we get to play another game in Lewisburg," said MCHS coach Jason Tigert. "Our guys love playing in front of our home crowd. It gives us a lot of energy."
Although the Tigers hit only 10-of-20 free throws, Marshall County committed only 10 turnovers and shot a blistering 56 percent from the field (22-of-39), highlighted by a 11-of-21 performance from beyond the arc.
Despite sitting out nearly the entire third quarter due to foul trouble, Johnson hit 11-of-18 shots and buried a career high eight treys en route to finishing with 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Johnson was also named Region tournament MVP and has averaged 34 points per game in his three meetings against Giles County this season.
"At first I was just feeling it. I had worked hard in practice on my outside shooting and got into a zone in the first half," said Johnson. "When I got into foul trouble, I was worried about picking up another foul so I was afraid to take it to the basket."
Jordan Anderson and Brock Spencer tallied nine points apiece as well, while Kevin Peterson added six points. Broderick Tears and Thomas Wilson rounded out the scoring for the Tigers with two and one point respectively.
Giles County, meanwhile, committed only 11 turnovers, made 7-of-10 free throws, and finished with 25 field goals on 48 percent shooting, which included a 5-of-15 effort from three point range. The Bobcats also outrebounded Marshall County 27-16 and held a 10-2 edge on the offensive glass.
Reserves Troy Hardison and Levar Johnson provided Giles County with a spark off the bench, as Hardison poured in a team high 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting, while Johnson notched 14 points and seven assists. Al Cobb and Kadijon Townsend notched 10 points apiece as well for the Bobcats.
MCHS appeared they might run Giles County out of the gym early on and built a 22-8 lead with 2:07 left in the first quarter on the strength of 16 points from Kedren Johnson.
The Bobcats eventually settled down and went on a 13-3 run to slice the deficit to 25-21 midway through the second period, but the Tigers outscored Giles County 15-9 over the final 3:35 of the half with the help two Kedren Johnson threes and a trey from Spencer to forge a 40-30 advantage at the break.
With Kedren Johnson being forced to the bench early in the third after picking up his fourth foul, the Bobcats outscored Marshall County 15-5 in the quarter to tie the game at 45-45.
After Kedren Johnson returned to the game at the start of the fourth Levar Johnson scored on a layup to put Giles County up 47-45, but MCHS responded with a 16-8 run, highlighted by three treys from Kedren Johnson and a Spencer three, to grab a 61-55 advantage.
"We just decided to trust that Kedren could play with four fouls in the fourth quarter because Giles County had too much momentum," said Tigert. "He really shot the ball well tonight and did what an SEC player does."
Kedren Johnson, though, was fouled a few moments later while bringing the ball up the court and made both free throws to give the Tigers a 64-62 lead before coming up with a steal on Giles County's ensuing possession.
After Kedren Johnson hit one-of-two foul shots to make it 65-62, the Bobcats had one final chance to tie the game, but Levar Johnson missed an off balance three-pointer as time ran out.