Tigers take down Bobcats in regular season finale

Wednesday, February 13, 2019
2017-2018 Class A Mr. Basketball and one of three finalists for this year’s award, KJ Johnson led all scorers in the game with 34 points, including a solid 14-for-16 effort from the free throw line as the Tigers beat Giles County 78-72 at Pulaski Friday night.
Tribune file photo by Anthony S. Puca

The finale of Friday night’s doubleheader at Pulaski saw the MCHS Tigers facing off against the hometown Giles County Bobcats in a District 12-AA matchup.

The Tigers looking for a first-place district finish, out-gunned the Bobcats 78-72.

Before a near capacity crowd celebrating Senior Night, this long-time rivalry highlighted the best of high school basketball.

Mr. Basketball finalist KJ Johnson did his part, scoring 34 points but the play of number five, Cornelius Turner, who burned the nets up with six 3-pointers and 25 points, proved too much for the Bobcats.

“I had a good warm up and we had a good practice and we won.” Turner said.

The first quarter began with Giles County controlling the tip, but unable to convert on their first possession and that left the door open for Silas Hurt who dropped in a free-throw.

KJ Zeigler countered with a basket for GC and KJ Johnson added a free throw for MCHS.

GC’s Dekorbian Bellefort scored on a put-back before Turner canned the first of his six 3-pointers with an assist from Johnson.

Zeigler made a three as did Zac Yarborough for GC and Turner responded with another three for MCHS.

Two free throws by Johnson and a basket by Devonte Davis kept the Tigers close.

Baskets by Zeigler and JC Brown padded the lead and at the end of the first quarter the Bobcats led the Tigers 16-12.

The second quarter saw both teams heating up as the teams swapped baskets, Brown for GC, Johnson for MCHS, Zeigler for GC, and a 3-pointer by Johnson.

Fouls began to mount as each team raced up and down the court with Giles County feeling the heat first as they committed their seventh team foul putting the Tigers in the bonus.

MCHS committed their seventh foul soon after and both teams were shooting one-and-one.

At the 3:25 mark of the second period, the Tigers closed to 25-23 before a Turner basket tied it 25-25.

GC’s Walker Dunn, untied it with an assist from Zeigler, and then added another basket to give the Bobcats a four-point lead.

Dale Garrett popped a jumper and Johnson answered with a 3-pointer and was fouled.

Johnson converted the rare four-play point.

A dunk brought the home crowd to their feet and with the addition of free throws by Garrett and Yarborough extended the lead the Giles County lead to 36-31.

MCHS’s Andrew Gold nailed a jumper and Johnson saved the best for last as he nailed a three from downtown and the score was tied at the half, 36-36.

The third quarter saw action just as hot as Keshun Gentry tossed in a three and Turner off a steal, scored a basket.

Turner kept his hot shooting going with another three as Giles County countered with baskets by Bellefort and Brown, on a super effort that included two put-back attempts and a score on the third offensive rebound.

Marcellus Campbell found the three-point range and Johnson scored a three the old fashioned way with a basket and a free throw.

Johnson canned two free throws and a basket before GC answered with a basket from Zeigler.

Johnson ended the third quarter with a two-pointer to give the Tigers a five-point lead at 55-50.

The fourth quarter action was hot and heavy as Zeigler scored on an NBA type move in the lane, but Johnson and Dagon Stacy countered with free throws for Marshall County.

Brown drained a three and as free throws became numerous for both sides and at the 5:06 mark of the fourth period, the Tigers’ lead was down to one point at 60-59.

With 4:11 left in the contest, the score was 64-59 with Turner again raining down a three, but Giles County stayed close after a basket by Zeigler.

With 2:28 left the score was 70-62 and Giles County with Zeigler and Brown leading the charge, came running back with baskets and one minute later, the score was 71-66.

Devonte Davis dropped in a free throw for MCHS to make it 72-66 and Giles County’s Josh Marshall drained a three to make it 72-69.

Johnson, showing why he is a Mr. Basketball Finalist scored the last six points for MCHS and added a steal on top, as the Bobcats could only manage three points, a basket by Zeigler and a free throw from Brown.

The Tigers roared on their arch rival’s court and Johnson said, “We fought it out and we kept our composure even as things got hostile as they fought back in the game.”

Your final score from Pulaski, MCHS 78, Giles County 72.

The second-seeded Tigers play in the District 12-AA semifinals at Forrest on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. versus the winner of the Forrest/Murfreesboro Central Magnet School first round satellite game last night at Murfreesboro.

MCHS 12 24 19 23-78

Giles County 17820 14 22-72

MCHS (69): K J Johnson 34, Cornelius Turner 25, Devonte Davis 5, Keshun Gentry 4, Andrew Gold 4, Marcellus Campbell 3, Silas Hurt 2, Dagon Stacy 1.

3-Point Goals (11): Turner 6, Johnson 2, Gentry, Campbell, Davis.

Free Throws (20-for-27): Johnson 14-for-16. Hurt 2-for-4, Turner 1-for-1, Gentry 1-for-2, Stacy 1-for-2, Davis 1-for-2.

Giles County (72) K.J. Zeigler 26, J.C. Brown 16, Walker Dunn 10, Dale Garrett 8, Zac Yarborough 5, Dekorbian Bellefort 4, Josh Marshall 3.

3-Point Goals (5): Zeigler, Dunn, Yarborough, Brown, Marshall.

Free Throws (18-for-24): Zeigler 5-for-5, Brown 5-for-7, Dunn 4-for-5, Yarborough 2-for-2, Garrett 2-for-5.

Halftime Score: MCHS 36, Giles County 36.