Tigers take down Bobcats in rubber match
The Marshall County Tigers and Giles County met in the District 12-AA semifinals Friday night at Spring Hill after splitting the regular season series 1-1 with Giles edging MCHS by one point in double overtime in Pulaski and Marshall demolishing Giles the second time around with the deep end of the Tiger bench cycling in the game as early as the second quarter.
Round three between the two bitter rivals from neighboring counties would be just as heated as the previous games with Marshall County (13-12) trailing by one at halftime, before making a late run to head back to Lewisburg with the 73-62 victory and a spot in the finals against number-one seed CPA the following evening.
'All about effort'
"Yeah it helped a little bit playing them twice before because we knew what they could do and what they couldn't do so we knew it would be all about effort for us if we wanted the win," Marshall County sharpshooting guard Malek Sain said. "We won the game by attacking. The first quarter was horrible and the second quarter was worse, so we just had to keep attacking and getting the ball inside."
Sain led all scorers with 23 points, including 10 points in the pivotal third quarter, to go along with five rebounds and four assists. DeAndre Brown gave his team a dominant force inside by scoring 17 points to go along with 12 rebounds and Caleb Fields added 13 points, all in the fourth quarter, along with four assists and four rebounds.
"Hard work, playing fast, getting them in foul trouble and boxing out were the keys to this win," Brown said. "We were working really hard in the post area. Once we started clicking offensively the defense came even easier for us."
Curtis Keiler gave the Tigers an early 12-9 lead with a layup and free throw and a Sain 3-point bomb that put Marshall County up 15-9 with just two minutes left in the opening frame.
The Bobcats countered with a Kobe Bledsoe triple and a flurry of driving layups by Stephen Wade to cap an 11-0 run to give Giles County the 21-17 lead with 6:30 left in the second quarter.
The Tigers played catchup throughout the second quarter before a Keevon Maxwell layup and two Brown free throws with 23 seconds left in the half cut the Bobcat lead to 31-30, heading into the break.
Sain picked up where his teammates left off in the first half by starting the third quarter with a triple and a driving layup to give the Tigers a 37-31 lead before the Bobcats had time to blink.
Sain ended the third quarter with an old-fashioned three point play to put his team up 48-39 heading into the final quarter as the Tiger defense allowed a minuscule eight Bobcat points in the period to finally gain a little breathing room.
Hungry for win
"First half we came out kind of slow and we let a couple mistakes get to us," Brown said. "Second half we came out super hungry and started doing everything coach tried to tell us to do in the beginning. We just started clicking as a team and gelling with each other and making the easy baskets."
If the third quarter belonged to Malek Sain, than the fourth quarter was the Caleb Fields show as the sophomore point guard scored all 13 of his points in the final period to squash any Giles County comeback.
K.J. Johnson scored four of his seven points in the frame and Sain added another four points to aid Fields in putting away the Bobcats for good and earn a spot in the championship game.
"We won the second half," MCHS coach Arnett Bodenhamer said. "We played two quarters. I asked for four and they gave me a half. I guess that was the most important half. We came out and won it. But I'm happy with the win. We are in the same place we were last year, hopefully we can do something a little different this time."
Marshall County 17 13 20 23-73
Giles County 16 15 10 21-62
Marshall County-Caleb Fields 13, Malek Sain 23, K.J. Johnson 7, Keevon Maxwell 4, Curtis Keiler 7, DeAndre Brown 17, Quavion Harris 2.
Giles County-Hayden Miller 11, Payton Hall 4, Kobe Bledsoe 4, Lamanuel Appleton 2, Jordan Gilbert 18, Aspen Bush 15, Stephen Wade 8.
3-point goals-Marshall County-Sain 5, Johnson1; Giles County-Miller 1, Bledsoe 1, Gilbert 1, Bush 1.
Halftime score-Giles County 31, Marshall County 30.