Tigers beat Columbia in wild finish

Friday, December 15, 2017
Caleb Fields dunks the ball to open the scoring in the Tigers’ win over C-Town.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

Marshall County coach Lavon King coached at Moore County for a longtime and was part of many rivalry games in the Lynchburg area, but what he witnessed Tuesday night was a classic Lewisburg versus Columbia battle to the finish.

“It was huge and I was really proud of the kids,” King said. “They worked hard all week as far as getting prepared for this game, they did a good job and I’m just happy I got these guys.”

In the end it was a late illegal screen call on the Lions and some clutch heady last minute play by Marshall County junior Keshun Gentry that resulted in a 56-53 win for King’s crew.

Keshun Gentry buries the front end of a one-and-one to seal a 56-53 win over Columbia Tuesday night at Lewisburg.

“That is the thing, you never know what you are going to get, so you have to just go ahead and play through it,” King said. “The one thing I try to get my guys to understand is whether it is a good or bad call you just have to play through it and hopefully in the end it will all even out.”

For the second game in a row, Caleb Fields came up with a dunk seconds into the contest, sparking a 10-2 run that included a 3-pointer by Canelius Turner and a three-point play in the paint by Marcus Dodson.

Dodson scored nine points and his presence was huge for the Tigers in the low post throughout the game, something King was well aware of and intent to build upon.

“He (Dodson) does a good job down there, especially on the defensive side,” King said. “Offensively, we have got to continue working with him using his body to finish some layups and stuff, but defensively he is one of a kind.”

The Tigers also got another huge performance from KJ Johnson, who scored 27 points with three 3-pointers and a solid 8-for-10 performance from the free throw line.

The Lions managed to come back to within two points at 16-14 by the end of the first quarter thanks to a couple of 3-pointers by Devonte Jerrigan and Qua Kennedy.

With 5:05 remaining in the second quarter Johnson hit both ends of a one-and-one situation at the free throw line, giving the Tigers a 21-18 lead before the Lions went on a 13-4 run that was capped off by a Kris Armstrong 3-pointer and a 31-25 Columbia lead.

Fields hit two late free throws for the Tigers to make it a 31-27 ballgame at the half.

It was the Tigers’ turn for a surge to begin the second half and it started the best it could when Johnson nailed a 3-pointer and was fouled, converting the rare 4-point play.

A pair of Columbia turnovers turned into a Dodson bucket in the paint and another Johnson trey to give MCHS a 36-31 lead.

Columbia finally scored to snap the 9-0 run, but the Tigers continued to build their lead and Johnson made it a 12-point contest when he drained a long bomb near the end of the period.

Cameron Porter, who was the only Lions’ scorer in double figures with 14 points, scored in the low post to finish off the third quarter with the Tigers holding a 1-point lead at 49-39.

Columbia was not going away easy as they scored the first five points of the final period and from there the game was close until the final buzzer.

The Lions kept clawing their way back in the game, cutting it to three points on an Austin Woodson backdoor bucket after a Columbia timeout with 1:18 left in the contest.

An untimely Tiger turnover led to a Kennedy basket to make it a one point game before Johnson hit the front end of a one-and-one and Columbia rebounded the ball and called timeout with 6.7 seconds left.

The Lions called a second timeout after seeing the Marshall County defense and after the second stoppage, Porter was called for an illegal screen on the inbounds play, giving the ball back to the Tigers for two Dodson free throws with 4.1 second left.

Dodson missed the first and then the second, but Gentry came out of nowhere to grab the rebound and he hit his first foul shot and his missed second shot careened away and the clock ran out.

“It’s not a lot of pressure, we work on that every day in practice, I wanted that shot,” Gentry said. “It felt good, I was just out here trying to get my buddies the ‘W’ and I’m just glad we pulled it out.”

The Tigers (9-2) host MBA (4-1) Friday night before they play in the Zaxby’s Classic at Kenwood High School at Clarksville on Dec. 19.

“I’m very pleased and I’m looking forward to us getting back to work again and getting ready for MBA on Friday,” King said.

Columbia 14 17 8 14-53

MCHS 16 11 22 7-56

Columbia (53): Cameron Porter 14, Kris Armstrong 8, Qua Kennedy 7, Jaylan Hall 6, Devonte Jerrigan 6, Austin Woodson 5, Devin Reynolds 3, Dontavious Brown 2, Arcavious Goodman

3-point Goals (6): Jerrigan 2, Armstrong 2, Kennedy, Reynolds

Free Throws (1-for-3): Woodson 1-for-2, Porter 0-for-1

MCHS (56): KJ Johnson 27, Caleb Fields 11, Marcus Dodson 9, Keshun Gentry 3, Canelius Turner 3, Andrew Gold 3

3-point Goals (5): Johnson 3, Turner, Gold

Free Throws (19-for-25): Johnson 8-for-10, Fields 5-for-6, Gentry 3-for-4, Dodson 3-for-5

Halftime Score: Columbia 31, MCHS 27