Tigers mount comeback over Vikings in district opener

Friday, January 11, 2019
2017-2018 Class 2A Mr. Basketball KJ Johnson had 27 points and went a perfect 12-for-12 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter to lead the Tigers to 70-65 win Tuesday night at Unionville in the District 12-AA opener.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Marshall County Tigers came into Tuesday night’s District 12-AA opener at Community with a 6-10 record, but came away with the most important mark, 1-0 in league play after recording a 70-65 come from behind win.

“We will take what we can get right now, it is one game at a time, that is kind of the way we look at it,” MCHS coach Lavon King said. “Every game is going to be tough and as long as we come out of each game 1-0, I’ll take that.”

Only four Marshall County players found the scoring column, but they all had double figures with 2017-2018 Class 2A Mr. Basketball KJ Johnson leading the way with a game-high 27 points, including a pivotal 12-for-12 effort from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.

“I had a huge free throw shooting game, usually I’ll miss like three or four, but I really keyed in on it tonight because they were big for us,” Johnson said. “It feels great to start off the district 1-0, we had a tough start to our season, but now our record is basically zero-to-zero tonight and this will boost our confidence being 1-0.”

“We will do anything to get a win and this one is big to us.”

Canelius Turner had a huge game with five 3-pointers and 19 points, while Devonte Davis scored 13, and Keshun Gentry added 11.

“It means a lot for them to step up like that and take some weight off,” Johnson said. “When they are making shots it’s going to be hard to play us because they can’t guard everybody.”

As a team, Marshall County shot 16-for-20 from the free line and that was key down the stretch for the Tigers.

Kobe Pride led Community in the scoring column with 21 points, while Alex Mitchell had 14, Corde Lane 12, Tyrese Eady 10, and Will Reed added eight.

Marshall County’s Canelius Turner had 19 points with 15 coming on five 3-pointers.

Marshall County trailed 13-8 late in the first quarter when Davis brought them back with a 3-pointer and a steal and score to tie the game at 13 at the end of the period.

The second period belonged to the Vikings, who outscored MCHS 21-15 with Mitchell scoring nine out of his 12 points in the contest.

Community held off a Marshall County charge in the third quarter and led 48-44, entering the fourth quarter.

Johnson went to work as he decided to take the ball to the rim almost every time he had a chance and he made two free throws on the Tigers first possession of the period after being hacked on his way to the hoop.

With just over five minutes to play in the game Johnson scooped up a loose ball and went in for a dunk, but was fouled again and he drained both shots to finish off an 8-2 Marshall County run that gave the Tigers a 52-50 lead.

Both squads kept scratching and clawing at each other with the lead changing hands several times.

Keshun Gentry (1) fakes out Community’s Jackson Bailey (23) before taking the rock to the hoop to tie the game at 59 with 2:42 remaining in the contest.

Gentry scored his lone field of the game at the right time when he faked out a Community defender in the corner and pulled up for a short jumper to tie the game 59-59 with 2:42 remaining in the contest.

King called timeout after the Gentry bucket, but it was the Vikings who surged ahead again on a Pride bucket in the paint and a steal and score by Mitchell to give Unionville a 63-59 lead.

Davis scored for the Tigers and King called timeout again before Tyrese Eady scored for the Vikings out of the stoppage.

Community did not score again.

Johnson lit the final spark with a long 3-pointer and followed it up one possession later with a drive to the rack that resulted in two more made free throws to put Lewisburg in front 66-65 with 43 seconds left in the game.

Community coughed the ball up and Davis was fouled and he made both attempts from the charity stripe to increase the MCHS lead to three points.

The Vikings turned the ball over again and Johnson finished off Community as he calmly drained two more foul shots with 15.3 seconds remaining in the contest.

“That’s what it is all about, you know that’s one of the things you have to win at the end is defense and knocking down free throws,” King said. “They wanted that, they thrive for those kind of things and I’m glad they both (Johnson and Davis) stepped up and made those free throws.”

The Tigers (7-10, 1-0) travel to Murfreesboro Central Magnet School (11-6, 0-1) tonight before a big Tuesday night matchup at home with intra-county rival Forrest (5-12, 1-0).

“Every team has something different to give and it’s like I said, it’s one game at a time and we have to prepare for Central Magnet,” King said. “That’s who we played in the district championship game last year and they have a lot of kids returning, so it’s going to be a tough matchup.”

Marshall County 13 15 16 26-70

Community 13 21 14 17-65

Marshall County (70): KJ Johnson 27, Canelius Turner 19, Devonte Davis 13, Keshun Gentry 11.

3-Point Goals (8): Turner 5, Gentry 2, Johnson 1.

Free Throws (16-for-20): Johnson 12-for-12, Davis 3-for-4, Gentry 1-for-2, Silas Hurt 0-for-2.

Community (65): Kobe Pride 21, Alex Mitchell 14, Corde Lane 12, Tyrese Eady 10, Will Reed 8.

3-Point Goals (2): Reed 1, Mitchell1.

Free Throws (5-for-11): Eady 2-for-2, Reed 1-for-2, Mitchell 1-for-2, Pride 1-for-3, Lane 0-for-2.

Halftime Score: Community 34, Marshall County 28.