Tigers roar past Rebels

Sunday, January 4, 2015
Marshall County center (24) Darius McKenzie scores on a layup in the fourth quarter against Franklin. Tribune photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

The Marshall County Tigers (7-5) recorded another impressive non-conference win on Saturday afternoon when they defeated the Franklin Rebels 67-48 at the Overton Christmas Tournament.

Marshall County controlled the game from the start and built a 36-23 lead in the first half before opening up a 45-28 advantage midway through the third quarter.

Franklin (7-7) rallied to cut the deficit to 48-39 late in the third period, but the Rebels' resistance proved to be futile, as the Tigers outscored them 19-9 the rest of the way to cruise to the 19-point victory.

Five AAA wins

With Saturday's triumph, Marshall County has now defeated five Class AAA opponents this season and advanced to the second round of the winner's bracket at the Overton Christmas Tournament where they play Lighthouse Christian on Monday night.

Bolstered by a 7-of-11 shooting performance from center Darius McKenzie, the Tigers shot 45 percent (25-of-55) from the field overall against Franklin's 2-3 zone, which included a 6-of-19 effort from three-point range. Marshall County also dished out 18 assists as a team, committed just 12 turnovers, outrebounded Franklin 29-28, and held an 11-9 edge on the offensive glass.

"I think we handled their zone well, but we're going to have to do that because we're going to see a lot of zone this year. We did a good job of working the ball inside out," said MCHS coach Arnett Bodenhamer.

Marshall County's (15) Chris Walker shoots a runner in the first quarter against Franklin.

McKenzie broke double digits for the second straight game and led the Tigers with 16 points. Malek Sain followed McKenzie with 14 points, while Caleb Fields, D'Andre Brown, Keevon Maxwell, and Chris Walker tallied, nine, seven, six, and five points respectively. Jay Howard and Kacy Pleas notched four points apiece for Marshall County as well, and Montrell Harris chipped in two points.

The Rebels, conversely, finished with 18 baskets on 41 percent shooting and made just 4-of-16 attempts from beyond the arc while the Tigers recorded 15 steals and forced 27 Franklin turnovers.

"Our defense set up everything that happened tonight. We wore them down with our press and knocked down some shots," said Bodenhamer.

Joe Critchlow paced the Rebels with 18 points. Booth Page and Tanner Spalding also added nine points apiece for Franklin, while Dutton James had seven points.

Early lead

The Tigers pounced on the Rebels early and jumped out to an 11-5 lead midway through the first quarter on the strength of five points from Fields, a Sain trey, and a layup by Brown.

After Critchlow scored on a layup to narrow the gap to 11-7, Marshall County responded with an 11-2 run, highlighted by threes from Pleas and Maxwell, to forge a 22-9 advantage late in the first period.

Franklin outscored MCHS 12-5 over the next 4:35 to whittle the deficit to 27-21 midway through the second period, but the Tigers tallied nine of the last 11 points in the first half thanks to a Sain trey, two free throws, and a pair of layups from Howard and Brown to stretch their lead to 36-23.

Marshall County continued to pad their lead at the start of the second half and opened the third quarter with a 9-5 spurt behind four points from Sain, three points from McKenzie, and a Fields layup to forge a 45-28 advantage.

The Rebels engineered an 11-3 run to close the gap to 48-39 late in the third quarter, but the Tigers dominated down the stretch and outscored Franklin 19-7 over the next eight minutes with the help of 11 points from McKenzie to extend their lead to 67-46 before taking home their 67-48 victory.