Tigers take down CAK in Battle of Franklin
The Tigers traveled to Franklin for the inaugural Battle of Franklin Tournament at Battle Ground Academy and faced a tough competitor in Christian Academy of Knoxville (CAK) in the first round of the winner take all tournament.
CAK, who joined Marshall County in last season's 2A state tournament came into the contest with a 6-7 record and were looking for a signature win before heading back into the District 4AA schedule.
And after falling to Overton and barely beating one-win Hillwood in the Overton Christmas Classic, the Tigers refused to lose and beat CAK 65-59 despite heading into halftime down by five points.
"We had to rebound, play hard defense and get up in their shooters," D'Andre Brown, who finished with 14 points and five rebounds, said. "Our ball movement, the good shots, playing smarter and basically listening to coach and what he had to say instead of doing our own thing led to the win."
The Tigers got strong performances from point guard Caleb Fields who finished with 16 points, nine assists, five steals, and five rebounds and K.J. Johnson, who led the Tigers with 23 points, four rebounds, and three steals.
Jay Howard led the Tigers with eight rebounds and two blocks to go along with five points.
"Defense gave us this win," Fields said. "First half we really don't play defense, I don't know why but when we pick up the intensity can't nobody beat us."
"Everybody says we don't listen to coach," Fields added. "When we start listening to him it's a different outcome. We play smarter."
Like usual, the Tigers came flying out the gates behind Brown's seven points and when Fields grabbed an errant CAK pass and thundered home a tomahawk dunk with 1:31 in the first quarter, Marshall County led 17-12 before taking a 20-14 lead heading into the second quarter.
The following period belonged to CAK, who outscored the Tigers 25-12 behind 15 points from Hunter Reynolds, who nailed six triples in the first half en route to a 39-32 halftime lead.
Reynolds ran into a Keevon Maxwell problem in the second half as the senior defensive leader held the hot shooting guard scoreless for the rest of the game.
"Keevon Maxwell, I'll give it to him, first half didn't have a good ball game, second half came out, locked up, and played his role," MCHS coach Arnett Bodenhamer said. "What did (Reynolds) have in the first half? First half he had a whole lot. 23 points in the first half, zero in the second. That's all Keevon."
With Reynolds held in check in the second half and Fields and Johnson combining for 25 points in the third and fourth quarters the Tigers ran away with the game as Fields scored nine of the final 10 points of the game despite a valiant effort from the Warriors.
"Resiliency and again our motto, 'Believe' (won us the game)," Bodenhamer said. "We did a great job defensively in the second half and that's something we've got to get back to."
The Tigers lost to last season's Division II state champion Harding Academy 74-64 in the semi-final contest before beating 3A Lebanon 59-54 to take home third place in the tournament.
The Tigers are back on the court Friday night at Cascade at 7:30 p.m.
Marshall County 20 12 19 14 65
CAK 14 25 9 11 59
Marshall County (65): KJ Johnson 23, Caleb Fields 16, D'Andre Brown 14, Jay Howard 5, Keevon Maxwell 3, Donathan Tears 2, Keshun Gentry 2
3-point goals (5): Johnson 3, Maxwell, Brown
CAK (59): Hunter Reynolds 23, Turner Helton 14, Isaiah Swack 11, Mike Debusk 4, Bill Bower 4, Luke Etherton 2, Hayden Tanner 1
3-point goals (6): Reynolds 6
Halftime: CAK 39, Marshall County 32