Tigers drop close one

Friday, January 4, 2019
Tiger senior Dagon Stacey knocks down a late free throw for one of his five points versus Independence.
Tribune photos by Mike Inglsbee

The last time Marshall County participated in the Above the Rim Christmas Tournament at Hickman County High School the Tigers lost a close contest to Ravenwood in the championship contest.

The Tigers would face another 3A school with a championship berth on the line after taking out Harpeth in the opening round.

Independence advanced all the way to the state semifinals in 2016 at the 3A state tournament, but had won just three games in 2018 following an opening round two-point win over Lewis County.

And despite 43 points for the second night in a row from Lipscomb signee and 2017-2018 Class 2A Mr. Basketball K.J. Johnson and holding a lead the entire first half and portions of the fourth quarter, Independence persevered from the free throw line where the Eagles made a healthy 90 percent from the charity stripe (28-for-31), while the Tigers missed nine (19-for-28) free throws, including four misses of the front end of a one-and-one situations.

“We dug ourselves in a hole in the first quarter and played pretty well after that,” Tiger coach Lavon King said. “But we’ve got to come out and play well from the start because everyone is out to get us and no one is going to lay down for us.”

The Eagles jumped out to an early lead, but the Tigers rallied behind 11 first quarter Johnson points along with two points each from Malik Thomison, Keshun Gentry, and Dagon Stacey for a 17-13 advantage heading into the second quarter.

Johnson knocked down a triple for a 31-24 Tiger lead with 2:45 remaining in the half, but the Eagles countered with a three of their own to trim a lead to 31-27.

Canelius Turner added two of his four second quarter points on a nice floater in the lane to push the lead to 33-27 and after an Eagle bucket, Johnson ended the first half with a bang, knocking down a long 3-pointer with 46 seconds remaining as Marshall County looked firmly in control with a 36-29 lead at the half.

The third quarter effort by Independence ultimately shifted game to the Eagles’ side.

Independence came out of halftime on fire and a Gardner triple just two and half minutes into the period tied the game at 40-40 and an offensive layup and put back by St. Charles capped off a 15-4 Eagle run for a 44-40 lead with 4:12 remaining in the third quarter.

K.J. Johnson calmly steps to the line and knocks down the second of two technical foul free throws in the fourth quarter of the Tigers’ 73-71 loss to Independence.

But the Tigers did not die with Marcellus Campbell driving and scoring to give Marshall County back the lead with 5:48 remaining at 57-56.

The lead seesawed back and back forth before the Eagles pulled away at the free throw line to advance to the championship game.

“They’re a really good team that we won’t play anymore this year and this game gets us ready for our district contests,” Campbell said. “We took this as we can lose to them by two but they’re a much bigger school than us but we have heart and we take that as a positive and just go with it.”

The Tigers advanced to the consolation game and pulled off a win over a different 3A club in Clarksville, Northwest to claim third place at the tournament.

Marshall County 17 19 17 18 71

Independence 13 16 27 17 73

Marshall County (71): K.J. Johnson 43, Keshun Gentry 11, Canelius Turner 6, Dagon Stacey 5, Marcellus Campbell 4, Malik Thomison 2.

Three-pointers (6): Johnson 5, Gentry.

Independence (73): Sisson 19, St. Charles 18, Morrison 15, Gardner 8, Connor 6, Hrishi 4, Graham 3.

Three-pointers (5): Gardner 2, St. Charles, Morrison, Sisson.