Tiger comeback spoils Rockets’ upset bid

Wednesday, February 6, 2019
2017-2018 Class 2A Mr. Basketball KJ Johnson puts the exclamation point on the Tigers win with a slam dunk with less than a minute to go in MCHS’ 82-73 win at Forrest Friday night.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Forrest Rockets, buoyed by the girls win in double overtime, had Marshall County on the ropes Friday night at Chapel Hill before a big second half comeback turned in to an 82-70 win for the Tigers in the intra-county rivalry.

2017-2018 Class 2A Mr. Basketball KJ Johnson put on a show, wheeling and dealing his way to a game-high 37 points, including 15 points in a high-scoring second period.

Johnson was also deadly from the free throw line, canning 8-of-11 attempts from the charity stripe with six free throws coming in the third quarter Tiger comeback.

“It was great, the crowd was very hyped,” Johnson said. “There was a bunch of people here for the classic rival, it was just a lot of fun.”

“We had to get some revenge for our girls,” Johnson said. “It was bad that they didn’t take care of business like they should have.”

Keshun Gentry and Canelius Turner had nine points apiece for MCHS, Devonta Davis and Silas Hurt netted eight points apiece, Marcellus Campbell had five, Malik Thomison four, and Dagon Stacey added a deuce.

“My teammates helped out a lot when I got fatigued,” Johnson said. “They really stepped up and made big plays.”

Forrest had four players in double figures with Sam Ford leading the way with 20 points while Ty Hengesbach scored 18, Spencer McCown had 11, and Martin Stewart netted 10.

Lofton Yeager scored five points for the Rockets, Cameron Curtis had four, Mitchell Everett three, and Andrew Timmons posted two points.

With the win, Marshall County (12-12, 6-2) kept pace with first place Nolensville (15-9, 7-1), who went to Giles County (5-14, 2-6) and won big, 73-38.

The Tigers travelled to Nolensville last night and finish up the regular season at Giles County on Friday, while the Knights host Community in their last league game on Friday.

The Rockets were fired up out of the huddle Friday night at Chapel Hill as they took an early 6-0 lead before the Tigers responded with a 6-2 run to trail by two points.

Two Martin Stewart buckets gave Forrest a 12-6 lead until KJ Johnson scored on a floater in the lane.

Ty Hengesbach drains a 3-pointer in front of the Forrest student section in Friday’s senior night battle with Marshall County.

Forrest took off again on a 10-0 run with Hengesbach scoring on a three-point play the old-fashioned way to start the run and McCown coming up with a steal and score to end the burst, giving the Rockets a 22-8 lead.

Hurt and Johnson scored on back-to-back trips down the floor for MCHS before McCown ended the first quarter with a bucket for Forrest to make it a 24-12 contest.

The two squads battled toe-to-toe in the second period as Forrest maintained a late nine-point lead at 35-26 when the Tigers made a serious comeback bid, beginning on a drive to the hoop by Gentry.

A Hurt rebound and put-back made it 35-30 before one Everett free throw halted the MCHS burst, but it was just temporary as the Tigers came back to tie the game at 36-36 on a Turner long bomb, followed by a swooping move to rim by Johnson that resulted in a three-point play.

McCown and Turner exchanged buckets before Ford buried a 3-pointer at the first half buzzer to give the Rockets a 41-38 edge.

Stewart scored in the low post to kick off the second half to make it a five-point game, but Johnson led a 9-4 charge to tie the game at 47-47.

Marshall County freshman Silas Hurt (10) buries a first period jumper for two of his eight points in the game.

After a Rocket turnover, Hurt scored in the low post to give the Tigers their first lead of the game midway through the third period.

“We started off a little bit slow, but we finally got back into it,” Johnson said. “We have to figure out how not to come out so slow and stay steady with it the whole game and not get down, but we did a good job of bouncing back.”

Johnson scored off another Forrest miscue and it looked like the Rockets were in trouble, but they bounced back via a 6-0 mini-run on baskets by Yeager, McCown, and Curtis to seize back the lead at 55-53.

Spencer McCown (10) knocks down a jumper in the lane for two of his 11 points in the game.

Thomison knocked in basket in the paint and Johnson followed with two made free throws and Marshall County got the ball back again on a Forrest turnover.

Hengesbach swiped the rock back and scored to knot the contest at 57-57 before Gentry made one free throw to give MCHS a one-point lead headed to the fourth quarter.

The Tigers really asserted themselves at the outset of the fourth quarter as Gentry, Davis, and Johnson all scored before Timmons got Forrest on the board.

Hurt electrified his teammates with a deep three and Johnson added to the outburst with a steal, score, and three-point play to give Lewisburg a 70-59 lead.

Forrest never recovered and Johnson put the exclamation point on the Tiger victory when he stole the ball and soared in for a slam dunk with less than a minute to go in the contest to seal the season sweep over Forrest.

“This should help our confidence out a lot and should get us ready for the next game, so we just have to take it one game at a time,” Johnson said. “I know I have to keep my head up, so my teammates can keep their heads up and not lose confidence.”

MCHS 12 26 20 24-82

FHS 24 17 16 13-73

MCHS (82): KJ Johnson 37, Keshun Gentry 9, Canelius Turner 9, Devonta Davis 8, Silas Hurt 8, Marcellus Campbell 5, Malik Thomison 4, Dagon Stacey 2.

3-Point Goals (5): Johnson 37, Turner, Campbell.

Free Throws (13-for-25): Johnson 8-for-11, Gentry 3-for-8, Turner 2-for-2, Andrew Gold 0-for-4.

FHS (70): Sam Ford 20, Ty Hengesbach 18, Spencer McCown 11, Martin Stewart 10, Lofton Yeager 5, Cameron Curtis 4, Mitchell Everett 3, Andrew Timmons 2.

3-Point Goals (6): Hengesbach 3, Ford 2, Yeager.

Halftime Score: Forrest 41, Marshall County 38.