Lions have the Tigers by the tail
The Tigers had a chance to uproot the proverbial thorn in its side on Friday night when Christ Presbyterian Academy (CPA) paid a visit to Dottie Kelso Memorial Gymnasium for the team's second district game of the young season.
The CPA boys team, every bit the power as its girls squad, have owned the Tigers since joining district four years prior.
The Tigers looked ready to put the past in the past in the last season CPA will compete in D-I, building a seven-point first quarter lead, but fell behind by one at the half and lost control of the game in the second half in the 66-52 loss.
"I think it's more of a mental thing because we have showed time and time again that we have the capability to beat them but mental mistakes kill us every time," sophomore guard KJ Johnson said.
Coming off two straight 2A state championships in the years prior to joining the district, the Lions are 90-17 (30-0) in 12-AA with two state semi appearances and a nine-game winning streak versus the Tigers including four times last season with a 29-point district championship win and a 20-point region championship win.
Johnson, who has scored in double figures in the past four games, led the Tigers in scoring with 17 points, rebounding with eight boards and assists with five dimes.
"I've just been going out and playing my game and going with the flow on the offensive end," Johnson, who is averaging 16.7 points over the past three games said. "Coach (Bodenhamer) always tells me to go play, have fun and not worry about anything and that's helped build my confidence a lot."
D'Andre Brown added 12 points, seven rebounds, and two assists and Jay Howard chipped in six points and five rebounds.
Tigers' leading scorer Caleb Fields was held to just two points due to foul trouble.
The Tigers also made just 11-of-22 foul shots, which has been a constant problem in close games.
Michael Mayernik led the Lions with 17 points, Bryce McCormick added 15 and Clay Washburn had 14 points.
The Tigers looked ready to run away with the game during a high scoring 20-point first quarter led by Johnson's seven points and two Keevon Maxwell triples.
The Lions started warming up in the second quarter as Mayernik drained three triples and Washburn, Drew Scott and Rine Dickinson all hit 3-pointers to take a one-point lead into halftime.
Johnson scored seven more points in the third to keep the Tigers close but the Lions had built a six-point lead heading into the final quarter behind nine third period McCormick points.
The Lions jumped out to an insurmountable lead during the final frame as CPA seemingly drove straight to the basket with little resistance to run away with a 14-point win despite being up just one at the break.
"I think we started getting beat mentally in the second half instead of just going out and playing our game," Johnson said. "One mistake led to another and we began to play unlike ourselves."
The Tigers will have a chance to correct its mistakes at the John Overton Christmas Classic versus Hillwood and Overton on Tuesday and Wednesday before competing in the BGA Christmas Tournament versus Christian Academy of Knoxville after the holiday.
Marshall County 20 11 12 9 52
CPA 13 20 17 16 66
Marshall County (52): K.J. Johnson 17, D'Andre Brown 12, Jay Howard 6, Keevon Maxwell 6, Cain McWilliams 4, Tre Crutcher 3, Quavion Harris 2, Caleb Fields 2
3-point goals (5): Johnson 3, Maxwell 2
CPA (66): Michael Mayernik 17, Bryce McCormick 15, Clay Washburn 14, Drew Scott 10, Rine Dickinson 6, Dean Cooper 2, Matt Dial 1
3-point goals (11): Washburn 4, Mayernik 3, Dickinson 2, Scott, McCormick
Halftime: CPA 32, Marshall County 31