Tigers get out of Unionville with two-point win

Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Canelius Turner knocks down one of his two 3-pointers in the game for the Tigers, who beat Community 80-78 Friday night.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Marshall County Tigers needed every one of KJ Johnson’s 43 points to put away a scrappy Community squad Friday night at Unionville, 80-78.

“They (Community) definitely were not going to go home easy,” MCHS coach Lavon King said. “It was one of those things where we still have to learn what that killer instinct is.”

“It is one of those things where these kids are still learning, so by the time we get to the district tournament we should be good to go.”

Johnson scored nine out of the 14 points for the Tigers in the first quarter, including a buzzer beating 3-pointer that gave MCHS a one point lead.

Community continued to hang in, taking the lead three times in the second quarter by one point and tying the game twice with the last time coming on a Thomas Buchanon 3-pointer to knot the game at 28.

Johnson matched the 3-pointer at the other end and Marcus Dodson made it a 33-28 game on two free throws, but the Vikings answered with a Kobe Pride bucket.

The Tigers reeled off six straight points on a Dodson bucket in the low post, a Keshun Gentry drive to the hoop, and a Johnson jumper to make it 39-30.

The home team did not let the visitors run away as Alex Mitchell banged home a 3-pointer for the Vikings, who trailed by five points at the half.

Marcus Dodson knocks in a layup in the low post for two of his 16 points in the game.

After Dodson scored on Marshall County’s first possession of the second half, Community went on an 11-2 run to take a 47-45 lead with 2:55 remaining in the third period.

Johnson made one free throw and after the Tigers gained possession of his second free throw attempt for an out of bounds play, Johnson threw it off the defender and scored.

A Community missed shot led to a Canelius Turner 3-pointer, but Mitchell matched the three-bomb.

Johnson came up with a 3-pointer and after a Viking turnover, Jaleel Howard soared in for a dunk to make it 56-50.

Taylor Clark’s four free throws and two more by Johnson gave the Tigers a 62-53 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

KJ Johnson, who scored a game-high 43 points, goes up for a dunk after stealing the ball in the fourth quarter.

At the beginning of the period it looked like the Tigers were going to put Community away as the opened with an 8-0 run, including a monster dunk by Johnson off of a Community turnover.

The Vikings slowly chipped away at the 17-point lead as seven Community players scored in the fourth quarter in part of a huge 21-7 run to trail 77-74 with just over a minute to play in the game.

“We come out in the first half and we always dominate, but in the second half we got kind of sloppy and just made mental mistakes,” Johnson said. “I feel like we should have closed them out in a better way and it should not have been as close as it was.”

Johnson was whistled for a questionable offensive foul, giving the ball back to Community until Dodson came up with the defensive play of the game when he poked the ball away and Johnson made one of two from the free throw line at the other end with 18.8 seconds left in the game.

“That was a big play by Marcus,” King said. “He steps up and makes plays and uses his body well as far as defensively in clutch times like that. He did a good job of getting his hand in there and making the steal, that was huge.”

The Vikings (9-11, 0-4) countered with a Mitchell basket with 9.5 seconds left and after a Community timeout, Johnson was fouled and he stepped to the line and buried both foul shots to seal the deal.

“That was big, after that we got a little sigh of relief knowing that they could not make a three to tie and go to overtime,” King said. “He (Johnson) steps up and thrives for things like that.”

The Tigers (16-7, 4-2) beat Murfreesboro Central Magnet Monday (13-11, 3-3) night 66-52 to begin a tough three-game district contest week as they resume play Thursday night at Nolensville (10-10, 4-1) before returning to Lewisburg Friday night for a re-match with Forrest (9-13, 5-1).

“Those are a big three games, especially Central Magnet because I felt like we let that one get away from us earlier,” King said. “In reality, any one of these six teams can go out and win the district tournament, so I’m just hoping we keep getting better and we are the one that can come out on top.”

Marshall County 14 27 21 18-80

Community 13 23 17 25-78

Marshall County (80): KJ Johnson 43, Marcus Dodson 16, Canelius Turner 7, Keshun Gentry 6, Jaleel Howard 4, Taylor Clark 4.

Free Throws (19-for-29): Johnson 14-for-19, Clark 4-for-4, Turner 1-for-2, Dodson 0-for-1, Howard 0-for-3.

3-Point Goals (6): Johnson 4, Turner 2.

Community (78): Dillon Whitaker 23, Alex Mitchell 16, Kobe Pride 11, Thomas Buchanon 10, Tyrese Eady 8, Corde Lane 6, Grayson Garette 4.

Free Throws (15-for-21): Whitaker 7-for-8, Eady 4-for-6, Buchanon 2-for-2, Pride 1-for-2, Mitchell 1-for-1, Garrette 0-for-2.

3-Point Goals (7): Mitchell 3, Buchanon 2, Pride 2.

Halftime Score: Marshall County 41, Community 36.