Marshall County Tigers steal win over FRA

Friday, December 29, 2017
Canelius Turner (5) steals the ball with 15 seconds remaining in the game to seal the win for the Tigers.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Marshall County Tigers played Thursday night’s game at the Franklin Road Academy (FRA) Christmas Tournament versus the host Panthers without senior point guard Caleb Fields, who left the team for undisclosed reasons.

It didn’t matter as the rest of the squad stepped up in a huge 74-71 win that went down to the last possession.

“That was a big win, it really was,” MCHS coach Lavon King said. “I came over here and watched them a couple of times at home and this is a tough environment to play in, so that was big.”

Canelius Turner stole the ball on an inbounds play after an FRA timeout with 16.9 seconds remaining in the game to seal the win for Marshall County (12-3), who played Alcoa (7-4)in the tournament semifinals.

“We are looking forward to playing Alcoa,” King said. “They are a real athletic team, so I’m going to try to get some film tonight to watch real quick.”

“I’m going to be up late tonight, but it is always worth it when you can play for a championship.”

Alcoa beat Central Bucks West, PA 64-43 in the other game in Marshall County’s bracket.

Antioch and Rossview Christian played as well as Pearl-Cohn and Harding Academy in the other side of the bracket, but no scores were reported at press time.

“We know it’s tough coming in here without Caleb, but if we keep playing as a team I know we can keep moving forward and win this,” KJ Johnson said.

Johnson was on fire for Marshall County, scoring a career high 46 points and the junior sharpshooter rained home all nine of the Tigers’ 3-pointers in the game.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we knew if we just stuck together and played how we were supposed to we would come out and get the win,” Johnson said. “We definitely missed him (Fields) tonight, buy we knew what we had to do and how to take care of business while he is gone.”

Marcus Dodson picked up the slack in the low post with 15 points, including the go-head bucket with 2:15 remaining in the game.

“Marcus did a good job getting some tough rebounds,” King said. “He is a big time player and always steps up when he needs to.”

KJ Johnson was on fire Thursday night at FRA, pouring in 46 points with nine 3-pointers in a nail biting 74-71 win over the Panthers.

Johnson kept Marshall County in the game early, scoring an incredible 17-out-of-19 points that the Tigers posted in the first period and he scored nine more in the second quarter to keep Lewisburg close at the half, trailing 37-34.

“He (Johnson) is a big time player,” King said. “That was special, he is a special kid and I’m glad he shot the ball well and we had some other guys step up and make some big plays too.”

The Panthers began to pull away midway through the third quarter when a Brooks Price rebound and put-back gave FRA its biggest lead of the game at seven points, 54-47.

The Tigers dug in as Johnson scored on back-to-back trips down the floor and after an FRA missed shot, Keshun Gentry knocked down a floater in the lane to make it a one-point contest.

The Panthers broke the MCHS run on a Riley Speed bucket before a Johnson 3-pointer tied the game at 56.

Price responded with a 3-pointer for FRA on the final possession of the period, setting up a wild fourth quarter.

The Panthers managed to hang on to slim lead as they went up by four points twice in the period with the last time coming on a three point play in the paint by Tyrus Bayhum with 3:51 left in the game, forcing an MCHS timeout.

Marcus Dodson grabs a rebound on his own miss and gets ready to go up strong, putting the Tigers in front 72-71 with 2:15 left in the contest.

Johnson rained home a deep 3-pointer after the stoppage to cut the FRA lead to a single point and one minute later, Dodson scored in the paint to put the Tigers in front for good, but getting to the end was not easy.

The Tigers had two chances down the stretch to put the game away at the free throw, but could not convert, setting up the final FRA inbounds play after a timeout with 16.9 seconds left.

The pass came in and Turner sped to the ball outside of the three-point line and swiped it to seal the win and the travelling Marshall County fans went wild.

Bayhum had 25 points to lead FRA and Watson Tansil scored 18.

“We always talk about making defensive stops and we got a big stop at the end,” King said. “Canelius did a great job of stepping up and getting that big steal---that was huge.”

“We had four team fouls, so it was one of things where we knew that if we got beat off the dribble we could foul and make them throw the ball back in. That was one of the big things where the guys listened and stepped up and made a big play.”

MCHS 19 15 22 18-74

FRA 18 19 22 12-71

MCHS (74): KJ Johnson 46, Marcus Dodson 15, Keshun Gentry 10, Jaleel Howard 2, Canelius Turner 1

3-point Goals (9): Johnson 9

Free Throws (7-for-13): Johnson 3-for-4, Dodson 3-for-4, Turner 1-for-2, Taylor Clark 0-for-2, Andrew Gold 0-for-1

FRA (71): Tyrus Bayhum 25, Watson Tansil 18, Brooks Price 8, Kyle Crudele 7, Kineston Gardner 6, Sean Casey 3, Riley Speed 2, Mason Chambliss 2

3-point Goals (8): Bayhum 2, Tansil 2, Price 2, Crudele, Casey

Free Throws (4-for-6): Bayhum 3-for-4, Crudele 2-for-2

Halftime: FRA 37, MCHS 34