Tigers suffer big home loss to Nolensville
Going into Tuesday nights boys game against Nolensville (12-12, 6-3), the Marshall County Tigers needed a win to stay in a tie with first-place Forrest, who was taking on Community,
Unfortunately, the Tigers did not come out of the gate like first place was on the line, going down 20-9 after one quarter before the Knights went on a 16-1 second quarter run to push the lead to 36-10 with three minutes to go in the first half.
Marshall County (18-8, 6-3) finally went on a K.J. Johnson led run in the third quarter and fourth quarters, cutting the lead to six points with under two minutes remaining, but a series of turnovers put the game away for the Tigers and the Knights left Lewisburg with a huge 72-63 win.
"They had a kid (Stromen) that stepped up and made five 3-pointers and they came out in the first quarter and just took it to us," MCHS coach Lavon King said. "I think we were definitely expecting to get some feed off of the crowd after that huge game with Forrest when (the gym) was packed and our guys weren't giving enough effort I thought.
"But the first half we were just kind of going through the motions, just waiting for the other shoe to drop."
The Tigers were led by Johnson, who turned in a masterful performance with 49 points and six rebounds, with 38 coming in the final two frames, but just three other Marshall County players scored, with Marcus Dodson turning in 11 points and Canelius Turner adding two and Keshun Gentry adding one point.
"When we came out, our intensity was down," Johnson said. "We weren't really talking on defense and we knew that we had to come out and get a quick jump on everyone to stay competitive."
The Knights were led by a balanced inside and outside scoring attack with 18 points from Hudson Stromen and 13 points from Nate Bloedorn, while Nathan Foutch added 15 points on the inside and eight more from Brandon Wharton.
Six different Knights’ players scored in the first quarter as the visitors took a 20-9 lead after one period and the Tigers scoring woes continued into the second half as the home team added just one point during the first five minutes of the second quarter to go down 36-10 with three minutes remaining.
Johnson scored seven points in the final minutes of the quarter to cut the Nolensville lead to 40-22, going into the half but the Tigers still had work cut out for themselves if they wanted to make a push at the lead in the second half.
"At halftime I said we just want to cut the lead in half by the start of the fourth quarter," King said. "And we did that. We cut the lead to six in the fourth quarter and had the chance to win but just couldn't finish the game."
Johnson knocked down a triple two minutes into the third to cut the lead to 41-27 and two minutes later, another 3-pointer trimmed the deficit to 43-33.
Johnson was fouled on a 3-point attempt at the 3:40 mark and after making all three shots, the lead was finally down to single digits at 45-36.
The Tigers could not seem to break within the eight-point mark until a final push with two minutes remaining in the contest.
Johnson scored a triple with 2:10 remaining in the game to cut the lead back down to eight at 64-56 and followed with a steal and a layup, but the Tigers followed up with two straight turnovers and the would be comeback fell shot in Dottie Kelso Memorial Gymnasium.
"Every individual player is gonna have to do their role and do what they're supposed to do," Johnson added. "Everyone is going to have to do their part every game."
With a Forrest win at Community, the Rockets locked up first place in the district despite an overall losing record.
The Tigers still have a chance to lock up the number two spot with a win in tonight’s senior night matchup when they host Giles County.
Marshall County 9 13 21 20-63
Nolensville 20 18 14 20-72
Marshall County (63): K.J. Johnson 49, Marcus Dodson 11, Canelius Turner 2, Keshun Gentry 1.
3-Point Goals (6): Johnson 6.
Nolensville (72): Hudson Stromen 18, Nathan Foutch 15, Nate Bloedorn 13, Zach Campbell 11, Brandon Wharton 8, Reese Gilbert 7.
3-Point Goals (5): Gilbert 5.
Halftime Score: Nolensville 38, Marshall County 22.