Tigers seize fourth straight district road win

Friday, February 2, 2018
KJ Johnson (3) flies through the air to the hoop for two of his game-high 33 points in the Tigers’ 73-72 win at Nolensville Thursday night.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

After a tough 76-65 loss at Forrest that began a five-game District 12-AA road trip, the Marshall County Tigers have reeled off four straight league wins, including a hard fought 73-72 victory at Nolensville Thursday night.

“It was a tough Nolensville game and I knew coming in we would have some issues as far as their post players, they are very aggressive and attack the boards,” MCHS coach Lavon King said. “It was one of those things where we just tried to get a little bit here, a little bit there.”

“I thought the second half defensively we stepped it up and got a lot of easy baskets off of steals and stuff and that’s to my guys, they really stepped it up when they had to.”

KJ Johnson continued his stellar junior season, pouring in a game-high 33 points with two 3-pointers and a solid 5-for-6 effort from the free throw line.

Jaleel Howard (15) goes up for the left-handed floater over Nolensville’s Nate Bloedorn.

Canelius Turner and Marcus Dodson were also in double figures with 10 points apiece, while Keshun Gentry and Jaleel Howard had 7 points apiece, and Andrew Gold added six markers.

Forrest (10-13, 6-1) leads the District 12-AA standings, followed by Marshall County (17-7, 5-2), Nolensville (10-12, 4-3), Murfreesboro Central Magnet (13-12, 3-4), Community (10-12, 1-5), and Giles County (4-13, 1-5).

The Tigers host the Rockets tonight at Dottie Kelso Memorial Gymnasium in Lewisburg for the big intra-county rivalry contest, while Nolensville travels to Pulaski.

“I am looking forward to it, it should be a fun game and a fun atmosphere,” King said. “The thing about it is we finally get to go back home after five away games in a row and we finished 4-1 and I’ll take that anytime on the road. Now we just have to just take care of our home court.”

Turner and Dodson scored an early bucket apiece to start the game at Nolensville, sparking the Tigers to a small lead for most of the first period.

With the Tigers leading 10-6, Nolensville scored six straight points to seesaw ahead by two points at 12-10 before a Gentry jumper tied the game at the end of the first eight minutes.

The second quarter was really a back and forth affair with the game either tied or the lead changing hands 11 times as the first half ended with the Knights holding a 32-31 lead.

Andrew Gold (20) puts in a reverse layup for the Tigers, who beat Nolensville by one point.

The Tigers came out of the locker room on fire as they put together an 8-0 run with a Johnson jumper, a Gold rebound and put-back, a Gentry swipe and score, and a Dodson bucket in the low post to make it 39-32.

“I thought we did a good job getting some easy baskets there,” King said. “Getting that momentum there in the second half was huge.”

The home team responded with a 12-4 run to take back the lead at 43-42 before Johnson went off, scoring 8 out of the next 10 Tigers’ points, including a cap off slam dunk to spur Marshall County to a 53-47 lead, entering the fourth quarter.

It all looked good for MCHS as they led by eight points twice in the period with the last one coming at the 51.4 second mark of the fourth quarter.

A Reese Gilbert basket for Nolensville made it 71-65 with 37.9 seconds left and the Knights called timeout.

Johnson was fouled out of the stoppage and drained both ends of a one-and-one opportunity at the free throw line before Garrett Reynolds knocked home a 3-pointer for Nolensville, cutting the Marshall County lead to two points at 73-71 with 12 ticks left.

The Knights called timeout again after the Reynolds bucket and this time they got a break when the Tigers were whistled for an inbounds violation.

The Tigers fouled Zach Campbell and he made the first free throw before King called timeout to ice the shooter.

It worked as Campbell barely hit the rim with his second shot and time ran out, sending the Tigers home victorious.

“That’s one of things where you have to give him as much time as you can to think about it,” King said. “We made some careless turnovers at the end, but that is something we have to work on. Our defense and blocking out there at the end was huge.”

Marshall County 12 19 22 20-73

Nolensville 12 20 15 25-72

Marshall County (73): KJ Johnson 33, Canelius Turner 10, Marcus Dodson 10, Keshun Gentry 7, Jaleel Howard 7, Andrew Gold 6.

Free Throws (6-for-8): Johnson 5-for-6, Howard 1-for-2.

3-Point Goals (5): Johnson 2, Turner 2, Gentry.

Nolensville (72): Brandon Wharton 17, Nathan Foutch 11, Nate Bloedorn 11, Zach Campbell 10, Jayden Watkins 9, Reese Gilbert 7, Andrew Neuhaus 4, Garrett Reynolds 3.

Free Throws (7-for-10): Wharton 4-for-6, Campbell 2-for-4, Bloedorn 1-for-1.

3-Point Goals (4): Reynolds, Watkins, Foutch, Wharton.

Halftime Score: Nolensville 32, Marshall County 31.