Raiders no match for Tigers in D12AA opener
Marshall County opened up post-season play on Friday night at Lewisburg against Spring Hill, but despite the Raiders (2-24) having just two wins on the season, one of those wins came against an ultra-competitive Giles County team that beat the Tigers earlier in the season.
The Tigers (16-10) refused to play down to its competition, jumping on the Raiders 21-0 after the first period and holding its Maury County rival to its season-low point total in a 64-26 win.
"Coach said it's hard to beat a team three times in a season, so you can't just come out here and just expect to win," forward LaMarcus Dodson, who scored six points and grabbed seven rebounds, said. "We have to bring it every game from this day forward if we want to go back to Murfreesboro."
Caleb Fields led a balanced Tiger scoring attack with 11 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists while Tre Crutcher added nine points and Jay Howard finished with seven points and two steals.
Keevon Maxwell chipped in five points, two rebounds, an assist, and a steal and Donathan Tears grabbed a team-high eight rebounds and scored four points.
Justin Oden scored half (13) of the Raidersí points.
The Tigers were all business from the opening tip as Fields and Crutcher scored five points each to lead seven Marshall County players in the scoring column, culminating with a Maxwell 3-pointer at the buzzer as the home team started the district tournament off with an impressive 21-0 lead.
"We were able to come out so well because everyone was locked in and focused," Dotson explained. "Coach said we were gonna see how bad do we really want this game. Are we gonna let Spring Hill come in and take away our season? We want to go one step further than we did last year."
The Raiders finally showed up on the scoreboard at the 7:18 mark via an Oden bucket, but Dodson made his mark with five second quarter points and Fields and Crutcher each scored two baskets to push the Tiger lead to 38-10 at the half.
The Tigers showed some cracks in its armor in the third period as Alex Harrison scored five points for the Raiders and Trent Wiltfong added four points to go along with a Nathan Pipkin bucket as Spring Hill matched Marshall County point-for-point, heading into the final frame.
"We've just got to do a better job of finishing," MCHS coach Arnett Bodenhamer said. "We handled it in the first and second quarters. First half we played lights out, I can't complain. But we left maybe six to eight points right there at the end of the second quarter that were easy, easy buckets we should have gotten."
The Tigers second half struggles continued as Bodenhamer replaced his starters and the second unit struggled to find its groove on offense, managing just five fourth quarter points.
Luckily for the Tigers, the Raiders experienced their own offensive struggles, scoring just five points in the final period, but after such a successful opening half for Marshall County the two district opponents played an even 16-16 game during the second half.
"I was impressed by the start but it's not how you start, itís how you finish," Bodenhamer emphasized. "We left too many points out there and I think the game could've been probably 80 to 30 or 20-something."
"They guys gotta understand, they've got to stay focused," Bodenhamer said. "They can't just give up. I'm proud of the way they started because they did everything I asked them to do in the beginning. But we've got to finish. Guys that I put in have got to finish the deal."
Spring Hill 0 10 11 5- 26
Marshall County 21 17 11 5-52
Spring Hill (26): Justin Oden 13, Alex Harrison 7, Trent Wiltfong 4, Nathan Pipkin 2
3-point goals (1): Harrison
Marshall County (52): Caleb Fields 11, Tre Crutcher 9, Jay Howard 7, LaMarcus Dotson 6, Keevon Maxwell 5, Donathan Tears 4, Quavion Harris 4, D'Andre Brown 4, Dayveontae Brown 2, K.J. Johnson 2
3-point goals (2): Maxwell, Crutcher
Halftime score: Marshall County 38, Spring Hill 10