Tigers exit state tourney
The Marshall County Tigers knew coming into Thursday's opening round of the TSSAA BlueCross Class AA Basketball Championships that Fayette Ware was not going to be anything other than the West Tennessee brand of team that likes to run, gun and rebound.
"I'm proud of the guys, they should enjoy it all and live it up," Marshall County coach Arnett Bodenhamer said. "But as a coach, as a competitor, I got a bad taste in my mouth, it's good and all, but that's not our goal, it was to bring home the gold or silver."
For much of the first half Marshall County was winning that up-tempo style, leading by 11 points until the game turned into a free throw shooting contest that eventually went the Wildcats' way in a 78-72 loss.
"They do a good job of tricking you and making you go up and down and we didn't capitalize on easy layups and we were shying away from the ball and not rebounding," Bodenhamer said. "That's West Tennessee basketball baby, sometimes their best shot is throwing it off the backboard and going to get it, that's what they do."
Plenty of whistles
Fayette Ware was awarded 30 fouls and went to the free throw line 48 times in the contest and converted 37 of their attempts, while Marshall County was fouled 20 times and had 25 opportunities to convert charity shots, making 17.
"There is no team that is going to go to the line 48 times, I'm not saying we are Division I players, but these are 15 and 16-year old kids trying to enjoy the process and they can't do it going to the line 48 times," Bodenhamer said. "Come on now, let the kids enjoy it, loosen up a bit, we are not going to turn into football."
Tiger sophomore point guard Caleb Fields, celebrating his birthday at the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro, poured in 33 points to lead all scorers in the contest.
Fields went 16-for-21 from the free throw line, had six rebounds, two steals and three assists in 26 minutes of action.
Malek Sain (13) and Tre Crutcher (11) were also in double figures for the Tigers.
DJ Johnson led the Wildcats with 28 points, eight rebounds, two assists, four steals and turned in a solid 9-for-10 effort from the foul line.
Fayette Ware also won the rebounding battle, grabbing 36, including 13 on the offensive boards.
"If you look at my notes the first thing it says is, 'box out and limit to one shot'," Bodenhamer said. "We can't out jump these guys, we have got to box out because we are a little smaller than they are, they got some meat and they are going to try and bully you and they will come out here and do what they do."
Marshall County fell behind 4-0 early in the first quarter before going on a 7-2 run to take a 7-6 lead on Fields' layup with 4:22 remaining.
With the scored tied at eight, the Tigers went on an 8-0 burst to end the period as Fields scored five points and Tre Crutcher nailed his second 3-pointer of the game.
With 5:28 remaining in the first half, Curtis Keiler scored on a fast break layup, giving the Tigers a 23-12 lead and from that point on, the whistles began to blow and the Wildcats took advantage, making 9-of-12 from the free throw line as part of a 15-8 run to end the first half with the Tigers in front 31-27.
The third period was a battle as the lead exchanged hands four times before Jackson scored on a three-point play the old-fashioned way with 12 seconds left, tying the game at 48, entering the fourth quarter.
Tyran Gilcrease hit two foul shots to put the Wildcats in front and from there Fayette Ware converted 25-of-30 free throws in the period, but the Tigers hung in and only trailed by one point after a Keiler basket with 1:19 remaining in the contest.
End of the road
Moments later a technical foul was called on the Tigers when they tried to take a timeout they did not have and Fayette Ware used the two ensuing made free throws as part of a 6-0 run that gave them a 74-68 lead with 32 seconds remaining in the contest and that was the end of the magical season for the Tigers, who finished the campaign with a 16-15 record.
Marshall County 16 15 17 24-72
Fayette Ware 9 19 21 30-78
Marshall County: Caleb Fields 33, Malek Sain 13, Tre Crutcher 11, D'Andre Brown 8, Curtis Keiler 5, Donathon Tears 2.
3-point goals: Crutcher 3, Fields 1, Sain 1.
Free throws: Fields 16-21, Brown 0-2, Keiler 1-2.
Fayette Ware: DJ Jackson 28, C. Anderson 24, Mikkel Norment 13, Tyran Gilcrease 10, Kederrion Rosser 2, Steafon McNeal 1.
3-point goals: Jackson 1.
Free throws: Anderson 12-16, Jackson 9-10, Norment 9-12, Gilcrease 6-6, JC Mason 0-2, McNeal 1-2.
Halftime score: Marshall County 31, Fayette Ware 27.