Cheatham County edges Tigers

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Marshall County's Kevin Peterson shoots a runner over Cheatham County's Wes Harlan in the fourth quarter. Photo by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

The Marshall County Tigers (18-10) made their earliest exit from the playoffs in four years after dropping a hard fought 69-65 decision on the road to District 11-AA regular season champ Cheatham County in the first round of the Region 6-AA tournament on Saturday night.

With the Cubs coming off a 49-42 upset loss to Harpeth in the finals of the District 11-AA tournament, the Tigers pounced on Cheatham County early and led by as many as 10 points in the second quarter prior to taking a 31-27 advantage into halftime.

The Cubs (24-7) then ramped up their offensive production after the break and outscored Marshall County 38-25 through the first 15:03 of the second half to forge a 65-56 lead late in the fourth quarter before staving off a frantic MCHS rally that saw the Tigers miss a potential game tying three-pointer in the waning seconds of the contest.

Although Cheatham County was unable to fully exploit their size advantage in the paint, the Cubs hit 7-of-17 attempts from three-point range en route to shooting 50 percent (22-of-44) from the field overall. Cheatham County also outrebounded Marshall County 32-22 and held a 5-4 edge on the offensive glass.

Guards Jake Saunders and Thatcher Brinkley paced the Cubs with 23 and 20 points respectively, while center Billy Thomas added nine points.

"Basketball is a game of runs. We captured the momentum at times, but in the third quarter we just couldn't get enough stops. We wanted to take away their post players so we gave up some things on the perimeter," said MCHS coach Jason Tigert. "We competed hard just didn't win. I'm proud of the guys though because they played their hearts out."

The Tigers also finished with 22 field goals on 39 percent shooting, which included a 12-of-32 effort from beyond the arc, but Cheatham County outscored MCHS 18-9 at the foul line and attempted 15 more free throws (29-14) than Marshall County.

Kevin Peterson drilled five treys and led three Marshall County players in double figures with 20 points, while senior Brock Spencer and Chris Walker tallied 13 and 10 points respectively. Corbin Clack notched eight points as well for the Tigers, and Cameron Bowers and Aaron Hobbs each chipped seven points.

"Brock Spencer and Tim Hutton have both made huge contributions to our program over the last four years and we're going to miss them. They showed good work ethic in practice and led by example," said Tigert.

After the Cubs took an early 2-0 lead on an ally oop dunk by Thomas, MCHS went on a 12-3 run behind two Peterson treys and three layups from Walker to pull ahead 12-5 midway through the first quarter.

Cheatham trimmed the deficit to 12-9 with 3:15 left in the first period, but Marshall County responded with a 9-2 spurt, highlighted by threes from Spencer and Peterson, to open up a 21-11 advantage early in the second.

The Cubs outscored the Tigers 15-6 over the next 6:18 to narrow the gap to 27-26, before Walker hit a layup and Bowers made two free throws in the waning moments of the half to give MCHS a 31-27 lead at the break.

Cheatham County then caught fire offensively in the third quarter and put together a 19-10 run to seize a 46-41 advantage with 1:45 left in the stanza.

Following a trey by Peterson, which trimmed deficit to 46-44, Brinkley banked in a three at the buzzer to push the Cubs lead to 49-44 at the end of the third period before Cheatham County outscored the Tigers 16-12 through the first 7:03 of the fourth to make it 65-56.

Marshall County then staged a last ditch rally attempt, as Clack, Hobbs, and Peterson each buried treys in a span of :28 to slice the deficit to 67-65.

After Saunders hit one-of-two free throws with 15.7 seconds left, Clack missed a contested three from the left corner on the Tigers' ensuing possession before Jordan Darden made the first of two foul shots to seal the Cubs 69-65 victory.