Lions tame Tigers at Dottie Kelso

Tuesday, November 27, 2018
KJ Johnson (3) drives to the hoop for two of his game-high 41 points versus Columbia Central Monday night.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Marshall County Tigers (1-5) suffered their fourth defeat in a row and five of six to start the season as the Columbia Central Lions outlasted MCHS 80-74 Monday night at Lewisburg.

“We had a lot of opportunities, but we just couldn’t finish and make shots when we needed to,” Marshall County coach Lavon King said. “That was one of the things they did a good job at was making shots, especially at key moments and we didn’t do that, we didn’t take care of business like we normally do.”

The loss broke a three-game winning streak for the Tigers in the longtime rivalry.

Reigning Class 2A Mr. Basketball KJ Johnson continued his hot streak to begin the season as the David Lipscomb University signee scored a game-high 41 points.

Keshun Gentry was also in double figures for the Tigers with 12 points, while Canelius Turner had eight, Malik Thomison scored seven, and Kaamil Hazel and Bryson Hughes netted three points apiece.

Columbia Central had four players in double figures with Q. Martin leading the way with 28 points, including 11 points in the pivotal fourth quarter.

Elijah Beasley netted 16 points, Dontavius Brown and Jay Davis scored 10 points apiece, while Keshawn Frierson had six, Devin Reynolds and Eli McCoy tallied four, and Cam Johnson rounded out the scoring with a deuce.

The Lions led 13-12 after a relatively low scoring first quarter before Johnson scored on a three-point play the old-fashioned way to begin period number two.

The lead seesawed back and forth for most of the second quarter with Johnson nailing another 3-pointer midway to give Marshall County a 30-27 margin.

With just under three minutes to go in the first half, Martin scored four straight points to give the Lions the lead back at 33-31 before Johnson bookended a pair of drives to the hoops around a Davis trey for a one-point Lions’ lead at 36-35.

A Frierson tip-in started an 8-0 run for the Lions to end the first half as the Tigers were in a 43-36 halftime hole.

Martin scored on a drive to the hoop to start the second half as the Lions opened up their biggest lead of the game at 45-36 and they held a seven-point lead at 48-41 on a Brown bucket with just over four minutes left in the stanza.

A couple of Johnson baskets eventually sliced the Columbia lead to five points at 50-45 before the Lions took off again, outscoring the Tigers 6-2 the remainder of the third period to take a 56-47 lead to the final eight minutes.

Keshun Gentry (1) bangs home a 3-pointer in front of the Marshall County student section.

Columbia made it a 10-point game early in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers clawed back once again, cutting the lead to four points on a Gentry 3-pointer with just over three minutes to play in the game.

Martin made it a six-point game at 70-64 with a 3-pointer before Thomison converted a three-point play on a drive to the hoop.

The two teams traded baskets to make it a 72-69 contest until McCoy drained a long bomb with 1:40 left in the game and Columbia called timeout after the hoop.

From there on, the Lions held firm as both teams scored five points apiece until the final buzzer sounded in the game.

“We have to make sure we stay team oriented and keep working to get better, because this is a totally different squad than we had last year,” King said. “Nobody wants to start out 1-5, so we are playing to get ready for district play in January.”

“The only way we can go is up and as long as my guys keep their heads up and keep working, we’ll get there.”

Columbia Central 13 30 13 24-80

Marshall County 12 24 11 27-74

Columbia Central (80): Q. Martin 28, Elijah Beasley 16, Dontavius Brown 10, Jay Davis 10, Keshawn Frierson 6, Devin Reynolds 4, Eli McCoy 4, Cam Johnson 2.

Free Throws (16-for-32): Martin 7-for-10, Beasley 3-for-8, Brown 3-for-6, Johnson 2-for-2, McCoy 1-for-2, Davis 0-for-1, Brady McCandless 0-for-3.

Three-Point Goals (6): Davis 2, Beasley 1, Brown 1, McCoy 1, Martin 1.

Marshall County (74): KJ Johnson 41, Keshun Gentry 12, Canelius Turner 8, Malik Thomison 7, Kaamil Hazel 3, Bryson Hughes 3.

Free Throws (15-for-25): Johnson 11-for-15, Thomison 3-for-7, Gentry 1-for-3.

Three-Point Goals (9): Gentry 3, Johnson 2, Turner 2, Hazel 1, Hughes 1.

Halftime Score: Columbia Central 43, Marshall County 36.