Tigers spoil Forrest upset bid with fourth quarter comeback

Friday, January 18, 2019
Marshall County senior KJ Johnson was honored for scoring 2,000 points as a Tiger in between the games Tuesday night. From left are MCHS coach Lavon King, mom Crystal Gillum, KJ Johnson, Nanna Gwendolyn Carmichael, and Kevin Armstrong.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Forrest Rockets came into Tuesday night’s huge intra-county, District 12-AA contest needing a win in the worst way and they looked like they were going to pull off an upset at Lewisburg before the Tigers roared back in the fourth quarter to take a 77-68 win.

“In a county rivalry you will always get their best shot and it’s one of those things where they came out with both fists up and we took a lot of shots, even some low shots in the stomach,” MCHS coach Lavon King said. “But we found a way, KJ really stepped up and made some huge shots and defensively I thought Canelius (Turner) did a great job locking down their point guard.”

Reigning Class 2A Mr. Basketball KJ Johnson turned in another spectacular effort with 38 points split perfectly between the two halves.

Johnson was wheeling and dealing the entire contest as he dished out several assists, drilled three treys, and made nine free throws.

“He (Johnson) always steps up and I was glad to see Keshun and Canelius both had double figures and both stepped up and made some free throws in crucial parts of the game and that’s huge because you know free throws will win or lose you a ballgame, especially the close ones,” King said.

Canelius Turner also continued his torrid outside shooting with 19 points and four 3-pointers, while going a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line.

Keshun Gentry (1) pulls up for a floater versus the Rockets.

Keshun Gentry was also in double figures for MCHS with 10 points, including a trio of treys and 3-for-4 from the charity stripe.

Rounding out the Tigers’ scoring was Devonte Davis with six points and Silas Hurt, Malik Thomison, and Andrew Gold all netted a deuce.

Cameron Curtis led the Rockets with 24 points and a game-high five 3-pointers, while Ty Hengesbach tallied 16 points and a pair of treys.

Spencer McCown, Martin Stewart, and Sam Ford all had eight points apiece, and Lofton Yeager and Andrew Timmons tossed in a two points each.

The Rockets took an early 8-4 lead before the Tigers tied it up on back-to-back Johnson drives to the hoop.

A Sam Ford bucket and a Hengesbach 3-pointer seesawed the lead back to Forrest at 13-8, but MCHS scored five in a row to re-knot the contest.

Andrew Gold gave Marshall County the lead at 15-13 with 2:20 remaining in the first quarter and the game was tied a couple of more times with the last at 19-19 until Curtis drilled a 3-pointer in the final seconds to make it a 22-19 game in favor of the Rockets.

Forrest’s Cameron Curtis finishes off a steal and score for two of his team-high 24 points versus Marshall County Tuesday night.

Forrest took a five-point lead on a Curtis steal and score to start the second period only to see the Tigers come back again via an 11-2 run to take the lead at 30-26 on a Turner 3-pointer.

From there the Rockets took off on a big 14-6 run to end the first half with a 40-36 lead.

A Curtis drive to the hoop and a Martin Stewart bucket in the paint early in the third quarter gave Forrest its biggest lead of the game at 12 points.

Forrest continued to hang tough and led 55-45 when the Tigers began their comeback as Turner and Johnson hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to four points at 55-51.

Ty Hengesbach (5) drives down the lane for two of his 16 points in the Rockets’ 77-68 loss at Lewisburg Tuesday night.

Forrest punched back with a Hengesbach drive to the dish and another Curtis 3-pointer, but Johnson got the last blow of the third period when he drilled a long bomb to make it 60-54 game, entering the fourth quarter.

The Tigers began to whittle down the lead and eventually tied the game at 60 on a Devonte Davis bucket in the paint.

McCown staved off the Tigers with a drive to the hoop before Johnson put Marshall County in front 63-62 with a 3-pointer.

Four more points gave Lewisburg its biggest lead of the game at 67-62 and Forrest cut the lead to three points twice more before Marshall County sealed the deal with an 8-4 run to end the game.

The Tigers (9-10, 3-0) host Nolensville (11-8, 3-0) tonight in a battle for first place in the District 12-AA standings.

After three straight wins over the Knights, MCHS has dropped two in row to Nolensville, including a season-ending 72-64 loss in the last year’s Region 6-AA tournament semifinal.

“That’s going to be a tough test, because they are supposed to be the kings of the hill and we want to see where we fit on that hill right now,” King said.

FHS 22 18 20 8-68

MCHS 19 17 18 23-77

FHS (68): Cameron Curtis 24, Ty Hengesbach 16, Spencer McCown 8, Martin Stewart 8, Sam Ford 8, Lofton Yeager 2, Andrew Timmons 2.

3-Point Goals (9): Curtis 5, Hengesbach 2.

Free Throws (3-for-10): Ford 2-for-2, Curtis 1-for-2, Hengesbach 0-for-3, Timmons 0-for-2, McCown 0-for-1.

MCHS (77): KJ Johnson 38, Canelius Turner 16, Keshun Gentry 11, Devonte Davis 6, Silas Hurt 2, Malik Thomison 2, Andrew Gold 2.

3-Point Goals (9): Turner 4, Johnson 3, Gentry 2.

Free Throws (16-for-26): Johnson 9-for-15, Turner 4-for-4, Gentry 3-for-4, Thomison 0-for-2, Gold 0-for-1.

Halftime Score: Forrest 40, Marshall County 36.