Tigers fall in controversal contest
Cascade traveled to Lewisburg Tuesday night, looking to salvage a once promising season that saw the Champions ranked as high as number five in the Associated Press' Class AA Top 10 Poll after starting off the season 12-0.
The Champions have since hit hard times since the start of league play, losing four out of its last five games coming into Tuesdays night's "Pink Out" event for breast cancer awareness at Dottie Kelso Memorial Gymnasium.
The Tigers, on the other hand, had won three in a row, starting with a seven-point victory over the Champions early in January.
MCHS fell by one point in overtime against Giles County at Pulaski last Tuesday night and the Champions handed the Tigers loss number two in row via a 46-39 defeat.
The Tigers jumped out on the Champions early and held a seven-point lead after the opening possession of the third period before the officials lost control of the game.
The ruckus culminated in a five minute delay to eject several spectators before the Tigers fell to the Champions, giving Cascade a much-needed league win and putting Marshall County in a do- or-die position heading into the final four district games of the season.
How to improve
"All of the other stuff aside, we could have attacked more," MCHS point guard Caleb Fields said. "We had a lot of missed layups and we weren't pressuring the ball enough. We need to start attacking the basket more and stop settling for outside shots."
Marshall County started out strong as Malek Sain made two free throws, Fields drove in for a layup and Keevon Maxwell nailed a jumper from the corner for an early 6-0 lead.
Hayden Edmonson scored five points and Lane Simpson scored a bucket to bring the Champions back to within one at 8-7, but KJ Johnson drilled a triple for the last basket by either team in the opening frame as the Tigers took an 11-8 edge into the second quarter.
Austin Gentry nailed a 3-pointer with 5:58 in the second quarter to give Cascade its first lead of the contest at 12-11, but the Tigers countered with two DeAndre Brown baskets and four Sain points to take a 21-17 lead into the half.
Big lead, then...
The Tigers garnered its biggest lead of the game on a Maxwell 3-pointer to start the third period and Marshall County looked in complete control of the game before MCHS coach Arnett Bodenhamer deployed a four corners stall strategy that whipped Cascade's crowd into a fury.
Following a controversial charging call on Maxwell after four minutes of stalling and seemingly one-sided officiating, all order was lost as the start of the fourth quarter was delayed for over five minutes as the referees had police officers escort fans from both the Marshall County and Cascade sides out of the building before allowing play to resume.
"We tried to keep each other focused with all the stuff going on around us during that break," MCHS senior Montrell Harris said. "We were telling each other to keep focused, win this game and worry about the other stuff after it was over."
After a 6-0 Cascade run to end the third period to pull to within one at 24-23 to start the fourth quarter, the Tigers lost focus on the task at hand as the one-sided officiating took Marshall County out of the ball game. The Tigers were called for five technical fouls in a six minute span and the Champions went to the line 18 times in the final period compared to just five for the home team.
"I'm a lot of [sic] frustrated," MCHS coach Bodenhamer said. "This is an important district ballgame. This is for number two (seed). We're playing for number two. And that's fine, we're going to strap it up, come back in here tomorrow, and come back out here and work. And that's what I try to teach my guys. When you get knocked down, you gotta get right back up and keep fighting."
The one-point Marshall County lead evaporated in the fourth quarter in the constant parade of Champion trips to the foul line, but poor Cascade foul shooting in the fourth (9-for-18) allowed the Tigers to stay within striking distance.
Two Johnson 3-pointers pulled the Tigers to within three points with two minutes left, but the damage was done and the Champions escaped with a 46-39 win.
'They took it away'
"It wasn't about the kids tonight, plain and simple," a frustrated Bodenhamer said. "We got five technical fouls? Everybody in this town has seen me coach and they know that sometimes I deserve a technical, but tonight? They (referees) took it away from the kids tonight and they made it personal. That's not fair to the kids."
The Tigers will now have an uphill battle to gain second place in District 12-AA as it dropped from second place to fourth place with just four remaining games before the start of the District 12-AA Tournament.
"We're going to have to really grind these next few games," Harris said. "We don't need to worry about this one because if we worry about it, it's just going to bring us down and we're not going to be playing to our potential. Really, we're just gonna have to put this on our back and make this something to fight harder for."
The Tigers will look to get back on track tonight at Spring Hill.
Marshall County beat the Raiders convincingly 61-37 during the first match-up, but Spring Hill was playing without key starters Justin and Tylin Odin, who will both be available for tonight's contest.
Cascade 7 10 6 23-46
Marshall County 11 10 3 15-39
Cascade-Austin Gentry 15, Hayden Edmonson 14, Dakota Newcomb 4, Lane Simpson 6, Seth Gardner 5, Landon Parker 2.
Marshall County-Malek Sain 8, K.J. Johnson 11, Caleb Fields 7, Keshaun Gentry 2, Keevon Maxwell 5, Curtis Keiler 2, DeAndre Brown 4.
3-point goals- Marshall County: Maxwell 1, Johnson 3; Cascade: Gentry 2.
District 12-AA Standings
CPA 13-7 6-0
Page 10-9 4-3
Giles Co. 10-10 4-3
Marshall Co. 9-11 3-3
Cascade 14-4 3-4
Spring Hill 3-13 0-7