LMS Tigers clip Grassland

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Tribune photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber Lewisburg's K.J. Johnson hits a runner over Grassland's Paul Davis in the first quarter.

On Saturday, the Lewisburg Middle School Tigers (11-6) kept their season alive by pulling out a thrilling 39-37 victory over the Grassland Generals in the semifinals of the James C. Haile Invitational Tournament at Middle Tennessee Christian School.

LMS appeared they might force the Generals to surrender early on and held an 18-6 lead in the second quarter, but Grassland (8-2) rallied their forces and bombarded Lewisburg with a 25-0 run to seize a 31-18 advantage with 5:51 left in the fourth period.

Winning charge

The Tigers, however, mounted one final charge and closed the game with a 21-6 spurt, capped by a go ahead layup from point guard Caleb Fields with :11 left, to take home the hard fought win.

"This says a lot about our team. We've got a lot of heart and we believe that if we keep playing hard good things are going to happen," said Lewisburg coach David Lovell. "When we got into our press in the fourth quarter, I felt it picked up our energy and we made some plays on defense that helped us put together that late run."

With Saturday's triumph, LMS advances to the finals of the Class AAA bracket where they will play the winner of Liberty and Macon County on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Bolstered by a 9-of-13 shooting performance in the fourth quarter, the Tigers shot 41 percent (18-of-44) from the field overall despite hitting just 3-of-17 three-point attempts. The Generals did outrebound LMS 23-21 overall, but Lewisburg held a 7-4 edge on the offensive glass and committed only 11 turnovers.

Fields' run

Lewisburg's Caleb Fields scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to help lead the Tigers to a dramatic 39-37 comeback victory over Grassland.

Fields spearheaded LMS' comeback by pouring in 11 of his 15 points in the fourth period to go along with 11 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals. K.J. Johnson also tallied 15 points, while Keshun Gentry added seven points. Kamron Liggett-Hightower rounded out the scoring for Lewisburg with two points.

The Generals shot an impressive 51 percent (18-of-25) from the floor, but missed both attempts from beyond the arc and committed 16 turnovers.

Paul Davis paced Grassland with 17 points while Michael Muir notched 12 points. Jack Patton chipped in four points for the Generals as well.

Grassland inched out to an early 4-2 lead, but LMS went on a 16-2 run behind eight points from Johnson and four points from Fields to claim an 18-6 lead late in the second quarter.

Momentum swings

The momentum then swung to the Generals' bench, as they tallied the final eight points of the second period to narrow the gap to 18-14 at the break before notching the first 17 points of the second half to forge a 31-18 lead early in the fourth quarter.

The Tigers began to claw their way back into the contest and put together a 10-2 spurt with the help of seven points from Fields and a Johnson trey to slice the deficit to 33-28.

Davis scored on a layup to push Grassland's lead to 35-28, but Lewisburg rattled off seven straight points thanks to a three from Gentry, a Johnson layup, and a runner by Fields to knot the game at 35-35.

The Generals pulled ahead 37-35 on a layup by Muir, before Gentry hit a layup with 1:57 left to retie the game at 37-37.

After Both teams came up empty on their next three possessions, Grassland tried to hold the ball for the final shot.

Johnson, though, intercepted a General pass near midcourt before dishing the ball to Fields, who scored on an uncontested layup.

On Grassland's final possession, Patton missed a jumper with :03 left before Gentry secured the rebound to seal the Tigers' victory.