Tiger 'D' stops Page
The Marshall County Tigers were in their final game of coach Arnett Bodenhamer's suspension Wednesday versus Page on Senior Night at Lewisburg, but longtime assistant Kirk McClean came through for his first win on the bench, guiding the Tigers to a 68-56 win in the District 12AA battle.
"It feels great, I told the men a long time ago, I never wanted to be head coach," McClean laughed. "I told the guys, always remember what coach 'B' has been telling you, because a lot of what he says came true tonight."
The Tigers broke out of a low scoring first quarter by both squads with a huge second quarter, sparked by their specialty of scoring points off of a stifling defensive effort.
"We have to start playing defense earlier in the game," Caleb Fields said. "Once we start playing defense like coach says, we can really get going."
MCHS was still in low gear early in the second period, trailing 17-11 and just giving the ball back to Page when the Tigers shifted into high, beginning with a classic senior Malek Sain steal and score.
"We were a little sluggish, it was senior night so we went ahead and started them and it took us a little while to get back on track, but once we got going, we started to roll down hill," McClean said. "We get 'Ws' with our defense, no defense no 'Ws'."
Tigers turn loose
The once hot shooting Patriots got rattled, missing shots the next two times on offense, while Lewisburg got baskets by senior Darius Mckenzie and freshman KJ Johnson, tying the game at 17.
Darrien James hit one free throw for Page, but Sain scored on a breakaway bucket and Johnson drilled a 3-pointer moments later, pushing MCHS in front 22-18.
Page got two more free throws from Nick Burns and the Tigers pounced again, scoring the next 11 points off of the defensive pressure that changed the game.
"We have a tendency to stop plying defense and let the other guys get confidence against and we can't do that," McClean said. "When we decide to play defense and turn the heat up we play good."
Page's only solace was a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Garrett Sharp, making it 33-23 in favor of the Tigers at the intermission.
Eight points by Sain early in the third quarter, including back-to-back long bombs stretched the MCHS lead to its highest of the game at 17 points before the Patriots fought back, staying in the game with a 12-3 run to end the period down by eight points.
Marshall County stayed in control, even though the Patriots' nailed four 3-pointers in the period, including two by Isiah Forrest, who made six from beyond the arc in the contest.
"We tried to push them out by the most part, we did good, but they just made some 3's," Fields said.
The Tigers clinched the contest late from the free throw line, converting 8-of-13 down the stretch, including a stellar 5-for-7 by Fields.
Fields leads way
Fields led all scorers in the contest with 24 points and Sain had 20, matching Page's Forrest.
The Tigers (11-11, 5-3) celebrate Homecoming tonight at Dottie Kelso Memorial Gymnasium in Lewisburg when they entertain longtime rival Giles County (11-10, 5-3), who beat MCHS 54-53 on January 19 at Pulaski.
"I'm glad coach Bodenhamer will be back for that one," McClean said. "We just have to play defense and be disciplined because their big guy inside is tough, so we just have to play that good defense we saw tonight.
Page 8 15 15 18-56
MCHS 9 24 13 22-68
Page-Isiah Forrest 20, Nick Burns 16, Darrien James 5, Will Pierce 3, Stewart Ringstaff 3, Garrett Sharp 3, Danyale James 2, Trey Haney 2, Peyton Wigginton 2.
3-point goals-Forrest 6, Burns 2, Ringstaff 1, Sharp 1.
Free throws-Forrest 2-3, Burns 4-8, Darrien James 1-2, Pierce 1-3.
MCHS-Caleb Fields 24, Malek Sain 20, KJ Johnson 8, DeAndre Brown 5, Darius McKenzie 5, Curtis Keiler 3, JD Chavours 2.
3-point goals-Sain 2, Johnson 1.
Free throws-Fields 6-8, Sain 3-5, Johnson 1-1, Keiler 1-2, McKenzie 1-1.
Halftime score-Marshall County 33, Page 23.