Macon County overpowers LMS Tigers

Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Tribune photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber The Lewisburg Middle School Tigers finished second in the Class AAA division of the James C. Haile Invitational Tournament.

For the first time in three years. the Lewisburg Middle School Tigers did not end the season by hoisting up a championship trophy, as they lost 52-40 to Macon County Junior High in the Class AAA finals of the James C. Haile Invitational Tournament on Saturday night at Middle Tennessee Christian School.

The Tigers (11-7) kept within striking distance of Macon County (16-1) in the first half and trailed just 22-17 at the break.

MCJH, however, began to distance themselves from Lewisburg at the start of the second half and opened up a 42-21 cushion early in the fourth quarter before taking home the 12-point victory.

Maxed it out

Despite coming up short in the title game, LMS coach David Lovell thought his players maximized their potential this season.

"I felt that we overachieved this year and I'm proud of what we accomplished," said Lovell. "A lot of people thought this was going to be a rebuilding year, but we got better throughout the season and ended up having a good run in this tournament."

Although they missed all seven three-point attempts, Macon County was able to exploit their size advantage in the low post and finished with 17 field goals on 46 percent shooting while outscoring the Tigers 18-4 at the foul line. MCJH did commit 16 turnovers, but outrebounded Lewisburg 41-16 and held a 12-6 edge on the offensive glass.

"Their size was just something that we couldn't overcome. Probably 75 percent of their points came in the paint and we just didn't have an answer for it," said Lovell.

Guard Seth Carlisle led Macon County with 23 points, while center Heston King ruled the paint and tallied 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting. Riley Phillips also added eight points for MCJH.

Shooting problems

The Tigers committed only eight turnovers, but struggled to find the range against Macon County's 2-3 zone and shot just 30 percent (16-of-54) from the field, which included 4-of-19 effort from three-point range.

Lewisburg's Caleb Fields shoots a floater over a pair of Macon County defenders in the third quarter.

LMS point guard Caleb Fields turned in valiant performance in defeat and finished with 24 points, eight rebounds, and four steals. K.J. Johnson followed Fields with 10 points, while Wesley Walker and Kamron Liggett-Hightower chipped in five and one point respectively.

Macon County jumped out to an early 6-1 lead before Walker and Fields sandwiched a trey and a layup around a basket from Carlisle to cut the deficit to 8-6 midway through the first quarter.

After MCJH used a 10-2 spurt to open up an 18-8 advantage early in the second period, the Tigers narrowed the gap to 19-12 thanks to a runner from Fields and a Walker layup.

Closing in

Lewisburg's K.J. Johnson shoots a layup in the first quarter against Macon County.

Carlisle then converted a three-point play to give Macon County a 22-12 lead late in the second quarter, but Johnson hit a runner before Fields buried a three as time expired in the first half to slice the deficit to 22-17.

The game, though, began to get away from Lewisburg after the break, as MCJH started the second half with a 20-4 run to forge a 42-21 advantage early in the fourth period.

The Tigers outscored Macon County 15-6 over the next 2:28 behind 12 points from Fields and a Johnson trey to close the gap to 48-35 before Macon County notched three straight points on an offensive put back by King and a Carlisle free throw to stretch their lead to 51-35 with 1:38 left.

Lewisburg's K.J. Johnson, left, and Caleb Fields were named James C. Haile Invitational All-Tournament Team.

LMS then tallied five of the last six points thanks to two free throws by Johnson and a Fields trey for the 52-40 final.