Tigers reach the top with win at Nolensville

Friday, February 8, 2019
Devonte Davis was all smiles before the game and after as the Marshall County freshman scored 17 points in the Tigers’ 72-68 win at Nolensville Tuesday night.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Marshall County Tigers remained undefeated in District 12-AA play away from Dottie Kelso Memorial Gymnasium in Lewisburg after the road warriors came away with a huge 72-68 comeback win at Nolensville Tuesday night that pulled them even with the Knights at the top of the district standings with one league game remaining for both teams.

It was sweet revenge for the Tigers, who lost by 44 points at home to the Knights on January 18.

“A lot of people thought we would never be here at 7-2,” freshman Devonte Davis said. “It felt really good after them beating us at home by 40 something and to come over here and beat them on their home floor to tie it up for first. We were all focused and ready to play, we knew what we were coming over here to play for.”

Marshall County (13-12, 7-2) travels to longtime archrival Giles County (5-15, 2-7) tonight while Nolensville (15-10, 7-2) hosts Community (16-10, 5-4).

“Giles County is going to give it a good game for sure, but we are going to come with our best that we got,” Davis said.

The Tigers have clinched a first-round bye in the District 12-AA Tournament next week at Forrest and a win over the Bobcats and a Vikings’ triumph over the Knights would secure Marshall County’s first regular season district title since the 2010-2011 season.

“That was a big win, we still have one more obstacle to take care of as far as Giles on Friday” MCHS coach Lavon King said. “I really don’t know about the tiebreakers myself, so we just have to take care of our business and even we finish tied for first, I’ll take what we can get there.”

“The biggest thing here was they embarrassed us at home and we wanted to come over here and take care of business on our side.”

That scenario did not look likely early on at Nolensville Tuesday night as the Knights led by as many as 13 points early in the second quarter, mostly due to the inability to stop Nolensville standout center Nate Bloedorn, who scored 14 out of his team-high 24 points in the first half.

Keshun Gentry had seven points, including this 3-pointer in the first half.

The Tigers trailed 29-16 when they made a charge, beginning with back-to-back 3-pointers by KJ Johnson and Keshun Gentry that sliced the Knights’ lead to seven points.

The Knights responded on a bucket by Zach Campbell before MCHS made a bigger dent in the Nolensville lead as Andrew Gold, Davis, and Cornelius Turner scored in succession with the Turner bucket coming on a 3-pointer off of a home team turnover that made it a two-point game at 33-31.

A basket by Nathan Foutch at the end of the first half and four straight points by Nolensville to begin the second half gave the Knights a six-point lead.

The Tigers dug in and continued to stay on pace with the Knights in the third period, even without any points by Johnson as the hot shooting Davis scored eight points in the stanza, including a pair of 3-pointers.

“They were just daring us to shoot, so I took the opportunity and it helped us out a lot,” Davis said. “When KJ has other scorers around him it makes it easier on him when he gets tired.”

Gentry added four points in the third quarter and Turner also nailed a 3-pointer to keep the Tigers alive entering the fourth period, trailing by just two-points at 49-47.

“I’ve been telling him (Davis), you have got to knock that shot down, it’s one of those things where we have been working on what we call sweet spots and the top of the key is one of his sweet spots,” King said. “I told him you have to have confidence in yourself because I believe in you and your teammates believe in you and he knocked down some very key shots from the top of the key. When he gets his feet set, he is pretty consistent.”

A Turner jumper followed by a Johnson slam dunk off a Nolensville turnover at the beginning of the fourth quarter gave the Tigers their first lead of the game at 51-49 and they would never trail again in the contest.

The Knights kept kicking back and trailed by one point on a single occasion and by two or three points most of the period.

A Campbell basket with 55.6 seconds left in the game made it 65-62 contest when Johnson put the Tigers on his back, sealing the deal from the free throw line.

KJ Johnson seals the game from the free throw line late in the fourth quarter.

After making the front end of a one-and-one opportunity from the charity stripe, Johnson missed the second shot but came up with the rebound and was fouled again.

This time he drained both shots and seconds later the 2017-2018 Class 2A Mr. Basketball winner calmly nailed both ends of a one-and-one to put the game away and put the Tigers in position to be district champs.

“That’s the wrong guy to foul there,” King said. “That kid has ice water in his veins.”

Johnson finished with a game-high 29 points, including a stellar 8-for-9 effort from the free throw line.

Davis finished with 17 points, Turner added a dozen, Keshun Gentry had seven, Campbell scored four, Gold netted a deuce, and Malik Thomison had one made free throw.

The bottom four teams in the district will kick off the District 12-AA Tournament with a pair of play-in games on Tuesday with the third-seed hosting six and the fourth-seed hosting five before the remainder of the tournament moves to Chapel Hill.”

Marshall County 13 18 16 25-72

Nolensville 23 12 14 19-68

Marshall County (72): KJ Johnson 29, Davonte Davis 17, Canelius Turner 12, Keshun Gentry 7, Marcellus Campbell 4, Andrew Gold 2, Malik Thomison 1.

3-Points Goals (9): Johnson 3, Davis 3, Turner 2, Gentry.

Free Throws (9-for-11): Johnson 8-for-9, Thomison 1-for-2.

Nolensville (68): Nate Bloedorn 24, Zach Campbell 17, Nathan Foutch 15, Reese Gilbert 9, Jayden Watkins 2, Davin Watkins 1.

3-Point Goals (4): Foutch 3, Gilbert.

Free Throws (4-for-6): Foutch 2-for-2, Campbell 1-for-2, Davin Watkins 1-for-2.

Halftime Score: Nolensville 45, Marshall County 41.