Johnson scores 37 in rout over Huntland

Wednesday, December 13, 2017
KJ Johnson poured in 37 points for the Tigers, who routed visiting Huntland 78-54 Friday night at Lewisburg.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Marshall County Tigers continued their torrid start to the 2017 campaign on Friday night at Lewisburg as junior guard KJ Johnson poured in 37 points in a big 78-54 rout over Huntland.

“I was just letting it ride,” Johnson said. “Once I made a couple I was just shooting and shooting. It was crazy, everything was going in and just clicking.”

“We are just preparing for districts and playing the best we can and just keeping it moving.”

The Tigers, coming off a pair of losses after beginning the season at 6-0, took their frustration out on the Hornets from the opening whistle, beginning with a rim rattling dunk off a steal by Caleb Fields.

“We wanted to try to start off early and pick it up defensively and try to make it an up and down type game,” first-year head coach Lavon King said. “The past two games we had two big losses, so we were just trying to get back on the good side of things.”

By the time Huntland shook off the cobwebs, the Tigers held an 11-2 lead and never looked back.

Johnson was red hot from the get go, scoring 14 first quarter points, including four points on back-to-back steals and scores to end the first period with Marshall County doubling up Huntland, 24-12.

“We really try to put pressure on the ball and get some easy baskets because that’s what makes the team go,” King said. “When we have to setup in a half-court set the entire game it makes it a lot harder for us to score, so we want to get out and run.”

Fields did it again in the second quarter, slamming a breakaway dunk that started a 7-0 run and ending on a Johnson 3-pointer that made it a 31-12 contest.

Caleb Fields was honored at halftime for scoring his 1,000 career point last week at Lawrence County.

The Hornets spent the rest of the second period playing catchup and they managed to cut the Marshall County lead to 38-25 before Johnson stuck in an early dagger, draining a long three just before the halftime buzzer to give the Tigers a 41-25 lead.

Johnson went totally off in the third quarter, making everything he threw up towards the rim in another 14-point period that put the game on ice at 62-43, entering the fourth period.

“Spurtability,” King said. “He is just one of those guys when he gets hot, you just keep feeding him the ball.”

“That’s one thing my point guard Caleb Fields does, he finds them and they rack it up.”

King sent the starters to the bench for the fourth quarter and the fans continued to whoop it up as freshmen Silas Hurt, Kaamil Hazel (3-pointer) and Jaamil Hazel (3-pointer), A’Ky Howard and Parker Little (3-pointer) led the Tigers to a winning 16-11 period and the 24-point win.

“Those freshmen are going to be exciting when it’s their time,” Johnson said. “We always encourage them. During practice they guard us and try to make us as best we can be.”

Junior Keshun Gentry, who finished with 14 points in the game also banged home a trey in the final quarter for the Tigers.

“I just want to get consistent, I want us to do a better job on defense and blocking out,” King stated. “I want to continue to keep using everybody because once we get to the district everyone will have to step up and make some baskets and play on the defensive end also.”

Huntland 12 13 18 11-54

MCHS 24 17 21 16-78

Huntland (54): Alex Simmons 10, Sloan Garrett 10, Chris Schultz 9, Garrett Jernigan 8, Bryson Foster 7, Colton Ray 4, Blake McDonald 3, Dalton Mahhafey 3

3-point Goals: (4): Simmons, Foster, MacDonald, Schultz

Free Throws: (6-for-14): Garrett 2-for-3, Jernigan 2-for-6, Simmons 1-for-2, Mahhafey 1-3

MCHS (78): KJ Johnson 37, Keshun Gentry 14, Caleb Fields 10, Parker Little 3, Kaamil Hazel 3, Jaamil Hazel 3, Devontavious Wilson 2, Taylor Clark 2, Silas Hurt 2, Ak’y Howard 2

3-point Goals (11): Johnson 6, Gentry 2, Kaamil Hazel, Jaamil Hazel, Little

Halftime Score: MCHS 41, Huntland 25