2010-2011 Class AA Mr. Basketball Kedren Johnson is up in Nashville, displaying his talents to the country as a freshman at Vanderbilt, and for most of the high school training camp period and into the first week of the season, Tigert has been without the majority of his squad due to the success of the Tiger football program.
The Tigers led for much of the game versus the Lions before Columbia came all the way back to tie the contest on a last second bucket at the end of regulation by Jarvis Webster.
MCHS junior Barry Mayes ruined the Lions' comeback when he went to the free throw line with 5.3 seconds remaining in overtime and calmly drilled two foul shots.
A last second desperation shot by Columbia's Ryheim McKissack was off the mark, giving the Tigers the hard earned win.
Surprisingly, the Tigers looked sharp to start the ballgame versus the Lions, jumping out to a 23-12 first quarter lead on the strength of four three-pointers from Kevin Peterson, Corbin Clack, Aaron Hobbs, and Brock Spencer.
Early in period number two, after Clack's second trey and a steal and dish by Hobbs to Cameron Bowers the Tigers' lead swelled to fifteen points at 29-14.
The lead remained at fifteen after another late trey by Hobbs, before the Lions cut the deficit to nine points at 33-24.
With just seconds remaining in the first half, Hobbs drilled an off-balance three-pointer in front of the MCHS student section as the buzzer sounded, giving Tigert's Tigers a 36-24 lead at the intermission.
Webster, who did play the first half because of a coaches decision, hopped off the bench to score six points in the third quarter.
The Lions also got some deep ball help from a McKissack three-pointer and two more treys from Khalil Counts as they dug deep into the Tigers' lead.
Counts' second trey at the 16.0 second mark of the period gave the Lions their first lead since the opening basket of the game at 44-43, but once again, Hobbs hit a late jumper to seesaw the lead back to the Tigers, entering the fourth quarter.
Marshall County would lead by three points at 48-45 before two Webster free throws, followed by a bucket by Chris Price put the visitors up 49-45.
Peterson and Price traded buckets and Tigert called a timeout with 4:33 remaining in the game.
Spencer drilled a three-point after the stoppage, and after a Columbia missed shot at the other end, Spencer hit two free throws after being hacked on a drive down the lane to give MCHS a 55-51 lead.
The Lions would not go away, coming all the way back to take a 58-57 lead on a McKissack trey with 1:43 left in the game.
Clack responded with a three-bomb for the Tigers, and after a Columbia miscue, Peterson scored in the lane for a 62-58 MCHS lead.
McKissack was fouled attempting a three-pointer at the other end and drained all three charity shots to cut the Tigers' lead to a single digit at 62-61 with 22.9 seconds left.
Mayes was fouled in the MCHS offensive zoned and hit one of two from the line and Columbia called timeout with 11.4 seconds remaining to set up a play.
The play was designed for Webster and he came through in the clutch, draining a jumper in the lane as time expired, sending the ballgame to overtime.
In the overtime, Columbia held the lead until the 1:53 mark when Mayes drilled a three-bomb to give the hometown Tigers a 69-68 the edge.
Moments later, Peterson hit two free throws to make it 71-68 Tigers, but Columbia stormed back and eventually tied the game at 72 on a Webster bucket with under 15 seconds left.
Mayes was fouled breaking the Lions' press, sending him to the line for two shots with just 5.3 ticks remaining.
There was no doubt on either shot as they both ripped the cords and the Lions called timeout and had the ball underneath the MCHS bucket when play resumed.
McKissack's desperation heave was way off the mark and Tigert's Tigers etched win number one on the year.
A jubilant Mayes said after the game, "It was a lot of pressure, but I had to forget about the pressure and knock them down because we needed them."
Mayes added, "It feels good to beat Columbia, we have a lot of potential and I think we can make a lot of trouble this season."
Peterson led the Tigers' scoring attack with 18 points, Hobbs had 14 (3 treys), Mayes (6-8 free throws) and Clack had 11 points apiece, Spencer ended up with 8 (2 treys), Bowers finished with 6, Chris Walker pitched in with 4 points, and Trent Wiles scored 2 points to round out the MCHS tallies.