Tiger comeback extends season
Marshall County (14-13) found itself in the exact same position as the previous season on Friday night by falling to CPA in the district championship and welcoming Camden (18-9) to Lewisburg in the first round of the Region 6-AA Tournament.
The barrage of fans that packed the bleachers in Dottie Kelso Memorial Gymnasium got every last cent of their money's worth as the Tigers won a nail biter, beating Camden 53-51 in dramatic fashion and will advance to the semifinals for the second consecutive season.
"We believe in what coach says, he's been preaching' it all week--believe," MCHS senior post Darius McKenzie said. "We got down but with our depth and our talent we knew if we kept a level head we would prevail and move on."
Malek Sain led the Tigers with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Caleb Fields came up huge with 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists, but little used Marcus Dodson came up huge with six points and seven rebounds in his first start of the year and McKenzie came up with two consecutive steals and a big free throw with seven seconds remaining to clinch the win.
"I was a little bit nervous (getting the start) but then coach told me to loosen up, so I loosened up," Dodson, a sophomore, said. "I gave the team my all and I helped us out. I crashed the boards and made a couple of points. I just did my job."
The Tigers started out hot, building an early 14-9 lead after a triple from Sain but a Tanner Johnson 3-pointer closed the gap to 14-12 with a minute left in the first quarter.
Darrian Fountain led the Lion charge in the second quarter with eight points, nailing a triple to start the period before a Hunter Vick three and another Fountain three gave Camden a 20-16 edge with 5:42 left in the quarter.
The Tigers found themselves down by 10 points with a minute left in the half, but a Fields layup and a Dodson offensive rebound and basket cut the Camden lead to 30-24 at the break.
"We were just anxious," Sain, who was held to three first half points explained. "We were just jacking up shots, we weren't driving and we started off sloppy. We just had to drive the ball and that opened things up."
Keevon Maxwell started the second half off with a layup before Sain took over the third period with a steal and feed to Fields for a layup to give the Tigers a 31-30 edge with five minutes left in the third quarter. Sain wasn't finished as the sharp shooting wing knocked down another mid-range jumper for the 37-33 lead and after a Fields pull-up jumper, Sain buried a long jump shot at the buzzer and the Tigers seemed in control with the 43-33 lead heading into the fourth period.
"We were 3-for-16 (from 3-point range) in the first half," MCHS coach Arnett Bodenhamer said. "I told them guys---we practiced driving the ball all week. We were rushing our shots. I said, 'just be patient.' We came out, drove the ball and cut the lead down."
The Tigers went cold in the fourth, scoring just two Fields points before Camden came roaring back midway through the quarter.
Alex Satterfield nailed two threes, Fountain nailed a jumper and Colton Smith scored a layup to bring the Lions to within two points at 45-43 before Vick brought the Camden crowd to its feet with a triple to take the lead at 46-45.
On the next possession Satterfield hit his third 3-pointer of the game with just two minutes left to push the Lion lead to 49-45 and after a Tiger turnover, Smith scored a layup on a full court outlet pass to seemingly finish off Marshall County with a 18-2 fourth quarter run and a 51-45 lead with 1:20 remaining before Bodenhamer called a timeout to settle his players down.
"I told them to believe we can come back," Bodenhamer said. "I've seen things happen. Crazy things like Duke -J. Williams hit those shots, I don't know how long ago. Reggie Miller did that stuff versus the Knicks. Man, anything can happen."
"That was a big thing I said-you got to believe," Bodenhamer added. "You just gotta settle down and believe you can't be defeated. You can't stop until the horn goes (off). I don't care if we're down 20 points, we're gonna keep fighting."
Sain takes over
Like he has done all season long, Sain came through in the clutch and refused to let the Tigers lose.
The senior guard drove to the basket and hit a free throw line jumper and after a Lion missed shot, Sain drilled just his second, but arguably biggest, 3-pointer of the night with 48 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 51-50.
On the next play, instead of going for the foul and putting the Lions on the free throw line the Tigers pressured the ball relentlessly causing the Camden ball handler to make a tough pass down the middle which was picked off by a quick thinking McKenzie, who found Sain streaking down court.
Sain drove right at the Camden defender and was fouled hitting a layup which one referee called good and another called on the floor. After some discussion the basket was called off, but Sain calmly stepped to the line and nailed both free throws with 25.3 seconds remaining to against all odds, regain the lead at 52-51.
On the next possession, McKenzie once again stepped in front of a Camden pass for the steal and subsequently stepped to the line and nailed one of two free throws with seven seconds remaining.
The Lions would have one last chance and Satterfield got a look from 3-point range for the win, but the ball ricocheted harmlessly off the rim and the Tigers lived to see at least one more game for the second year in a row.
"It would have been nice if I would have made both free throws," McKenzie stated with a grin. "I felt the moment was right. I was dreaming about this moment all day and I got the chance. I got the steal and I got the free throw and it just feels good to help the team."
The Tigers traveled to Spring Hill on Tuesday night for round three against Cascade, a team Marshall County split the season series with as each team won one game on each other's floor by seven points.
"I'm proud of my guys, we wanted this one," Bodenhamer said. "This isn't gonna last long, this celebration isn't gonna last long. This is one game. We gotta come in here tomorrow and get ready for Cascade."
A Marshall County win versus Cascade would put the Tigers in the Region final against the winner of the CPA/Stewart County game and guarantee a trip to the sectionals for the first time since the 2010-11 season when Marshall County lost to East Nashville by one point. That loss ended a three year sectional run that saw the Tigers advance to the state semifinals before losing to Bolivar Central 64-58.
Marshall County 14 10 19 10-53
Camden Central 12 18 3 18-51
Marshall County-Caleb Fields 12, Malek Sain 18, J.D. Chavours 2, Keevon Maxwell 5, Curtis Keiler 2, DeAndre Brown 7, Darius McKenzie 1, Marcus Dodson 6.
Camden Central-Darian Fountain 11, Hunter Vick 7, Alex Satterfield 15, Colton Smith 10, Tanner Johnson 6, Jared Baugus 2.
3-point goals-Marshall County (3) - Sain 2, Brown 1. Camden Central (9) - Satterfield 5, Fountain 2, Vick 1, Johnson 1.
Halftime score-Camden Central 30, Marshall County 24.