Turners’ career night sends Tigers to D12-AA title game

Monday, February 18, 2019
Marshall County junior Cornelius Turner is laser focused at the free throw line as he buried 8-of-8 attempts from the charity in the final two minutes and scored a career high 30 points in Marshall County’s 68-59 win over Murfreesboro Central Magnet School in Friday night’s District 12-AA Tournament semifinal at Chapel Hill.
Tribune photos by Anthony S Puca

Cornelius Turner had a night hoopsters dream of Friday night at Chapel Hill as the junior sharpshooter poured in a career high 30 points to lead the Marshall County Tigers past Murfreesboro Central Magnet School 68-59 in the second of two District 12-AA semifinal games.

“They (MCM) do a good job as far as defending us,” MCHS coach Lavon King said. “Tonight they left some of our guys with wide open shots and we took advantage of it.”

Turner also had five 3-pointers in the contest and in the final two minutes of the game, ice water rain through his veins as Turner drained 8-of-8 from the free throw line to finish off Central Magnet.

The Tigers shot a perfect 14-for-14 from the charity stripe in the game.

“I was just feeling pretty good,” Turner said. “I knew I had to knock them down for us to win, they were counting on me.”

Nolensville (17-10) easily handled Community 65-41 in the first game and vie off with Marshall County (15-12) in the district title game Tuesday night at Forrest.

“They are ready to go and get back to practice next week and take care of business on Tuesday,” King said.

The Tigers have played in five consecutive district championship games and are going for the district title three-peat after winning back-to-back crowns over Central Magnet last year and Giles County in the 2016-2017 season.

Marshall County lost in the title game to Christ Presbyterian Academy in 2013-2014 and 2015-2016.

With the win, the Tigers also secured a spot in the Region 6-AA Tournament and will host a first round satellite game on Saturday night at the Dottie Kelso Memorial Gymnasium in Lewisburg with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.

“That’s very huge, I always like playing in front of our home crowd, so I’m looking forward to it,” King said.

Class 2A Mr. Basketball finalist KJ Johnson scored on a driving layup to open Friday night’s game before Murfreesboro Central Magnet (MCM) managed to go in front 7-6 midway through a low scoring first quarter.

Tiger freshman Silas Hurt (10) grabs a rebound and puts it back in the basket in the first quarter.

At the 3:05 mark of the period, MCHS freshman Silas Hurt converted a three-point play the old-fashioned way after a tough rebound and put-back in the paint and the Tigers never trailed again in the contest.

Johnson came up with a steal after the Hurt bucket and fed Turner, who buried his first long bomb of the night.

“I get a lot of good looks on KJ’s dribble and drives,” Turner said. “The way he gets them to come off and collapse in and get us good looks is why we like playing with him.”

Turner went downtown again moments later to double up the score at 14-7 before Patrick Norman scored for MCM to end the first period.

Keshun Gentry opened the second quarter with a bucket for Marshall County and after an MCM missed field goal, Turner scored on a three-point play on a rebound and put-back to open up a 10-point lead for the Tigers.

Keshun Gentry (1) buries a second period 3-pointer for three of his 11 points in the game.

MCM fought back to cut the Marshall County lead to 21-15, but the Tigers responded with a Malik Thomison bucket in the paint and a long bomb by Turner to make it 26-15.

A Steph Laird basket in the paint for MCM was followed by a Johnson 3-pointer and the Tigers took a 29-19 halftime lead.

Central Magnet scored a quick five points to open up the third period, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Turner offset the MCM spurt as the Tigers maintained a double-digit lead.

KJ Johnson (3) drives to the hoop in the third quarter for two of his 18 points in the contest.

MCM fought back, cutting the Marshall County lead to seven points with less than two minutes remaining in the third period before Johnson scored five straight on a long 3-pointer and drive to hoop, making it a 12-point game.

One Laird free throw ended the third quarter as the Tigers were eight minutes away from the playing in the title game.

Central Magnet was not ready to concede just yet as they opened the fourth quarter with an 11-3 run, eventually slicing the Marshall County lead to 52-49 on a Jayden Hernandez basket midway through the stanza.

Johnson and Gentry came up with a pair of big baskets for the Tigers to stave off the MCM charge and extend the lead back to seven points with three minutes to go and force a Central timeout.

Laird kept Central Magnet in the game when he scored to make it 58-53 and after a Marshall County miscue, Norman went to the free throw line, but missed both attempts, setting the stage for Turner’s heroics from the charity stripe.

Turner converted on a one-and-one and after another MCM turnover, Johnson opened up the fatal wound with a three-point play on a drive to the dish to extend the Tigers’ lead to 62-53.

Will Carver scored for Central Magnet to make it 62-55 before the laser-focused Turner made three trips to the free throw line in the final 90 seconds and converted both ends of one-and-ones from the charity stripe every time without ever hitting the rim to seal the win.

“That’s special right there,” King said about Turner’s heroics. “The thing about it is we put a lot of pressure on each other during practice and think of games and creating things we will face.”

“It’s nothing, they just kind of go ahead and think about it and go to the free throw and do it, so that’s good.”

MCM 9 10 19 21-59

MCHS 14 15 20 19-68

MCM (58): Will Carver 18, Steph Laird 13, Patrick Norman 9, Jayden Hernandez 5, Gage Swanson 5, Jack Smith 4, Micah Harris 3, Jamerson Spivey 2.

3-Point Goals (2): Swanson, Carver.

Free Throws (12-for-23): Carver 8-for-10, Laird 1-for-6, Norman 1-for-4, Hernandez 1-for-2, Harris 1-for-1.

MCHS (68): Canelius Turner 30, KJ Johnson 18, Keshun Gentry 11, Silas Hurt 7, Malik Thomison 2.

3-Point Goals (9): Turner 5, Johnson 3, Gentry 1.

Free Throws (14-for-14): Turner 9-for-9, Johnson 4-for-4, Hurt 1-for-1.

Halftime Score: Marshall County 29, Murfreesboro Central Magnet 19.