Tigers’ season comes crashing down
The KJ Johnson era on the hardcourt at Marshall County High School came to a close Wednesday night as the Tigers suffered a 66-48 season ending loss to Murfreesboro Central Magnet School (MCM) in the Region 6-AA Tournament semifinals at East Hickman High School.
“The second half we struggled getting some points on the board and that was huge,” MCHS coach Lavon King said. “We just couldn’t find the hole.”
“For the younger guys we kinda live and learn and for the older guys, I told them as far as putting a stamp on this program, we didn’t finish where we wanted to, but this will always be their family.”
Johnson, the school’s all-time scoring leader and reigning Class 2A Mr. Basketball, scored a team-high 18 points and went 8-for-9 from the free throw line.
Johnson has signed with David Lipscomb University and is also one of four finalists this season for the Class 2A Mr. Basketball Award that will be presented to the top girls and boys in five classifications of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association on the floor of Murphy Center on the campus of MTSU on Tuesday, March 5 at 7 p.m.
Senior Keshun Gentry had 15 points in his last game as a Tiger and Devonte Davis was also in double figures with 10 points.
Canelius Turner and Malik Thomison had two points apiece and Silas Hurt had one marker.
Central Magnet came up with a balanced scoresheet with Steph Laird leading all scorers in the game with 20 points.
Jack Smith had 12 points and three fourth quarter bombs while Jaden Hernandez was also in double figures with 10.
Will Carver and Patrick Norman added nine points apiece, Micah Harris had four, and Jamerson Spivey netted a deuce.
MCM (20-11) meets Nolensville (20-10) tonight in the Region 6-AA title game at East Hickman and both squads earned a state sectional berth on Monday.
Nolensville beat Camden 70-53 in the first semifinal Wednesday night.
The Tigers (16-14) came out in good form Tuesday night, taking an early 13-4 lead as they went on to hold a 22-14 edge at the end of the first period.
Davis had all 10 of his points in the game in the first quarter and Gentry also scored 10 in the stanza, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Central Magnet put the defensive blanket on Johnson with two and sometimes three defenders, but he managed to find some daylight in the second quarter with 11 out of the Tigers’ 13 points in the period.
“There were times where there were three guys on him and it’s one of those things where you have to do that,” King said. “He is not one of those guys that you can guard one-on-one and I haven’t seen anybody all year that can guard him one-on-one.”
“He is one of those once in a lifetime players as far as coaching and I’m glad I had the opportunity to coach him for two years because he is a special young man and Keshun too, he is one of those guys, a defensive specialist, who sometimes goes unnoticed and he really sparked us tonight.”
MCM also had 13 points in the second quarter and the Tigers took a 35-27 lead to the locker room.
Central Magnet made a strong push for the lead as they scored the first six points of the second half to cut the lead to just two when the Tigers had to call a timeout trapped with the ball.
Hurt came up with one free throw two possessions after the stoppage before Laird made it a one-point game with a rebound and put-back.
Gentry drained a 3-pointer to stave off MCM, but it was only temporary as they reeled off 10 straight points to end the third quarter with a 45-39 lead.
MCM wasted little time putting the game on ice as Smith drained three 3-pointers from the corner and Hernandez added a three-point play the old-fashioned way while the Tigers scored just once during the Central streak and trailed 56-41 with five minutes left in the game.
MCM managed the end of the game to claim the win and end Marshall County’s season.
“It was one of those things where I thought Central Magnet did a great job with their game plan and they came out on top,” King said.
MCM 14 13 18 21-66
MCHS 22 13 4 9-48
MCM (66): Steph Laird 20, Jack Smith 12, Jaden Hernandez 10, Will Carver 9, Patrick Norman 9, Micah Harris 4, Jamerson Spivey 2.
3-Point Goals (6): Smith 3, Hernandez, Carver, Norman.
Free Throws (6-for-10): Norman 2-for-4, Hernandez 1-for-3, Smith 1-for-3, Laird 2-for-2.
Marshall County (48): KJ Johnson 18, Keshun Gentry 15, Devonte Davis 15, Canelius Turner 2, Malik Thomison 2, Silas Hurt 1.
3-Point Goals (3): Gentry 3.
Free Throws (9-for-11): Johnson 8-for-9, Hurt 1-for-2.
Halftime Score: Marshall County 35, Murfreesboro Central Magnet 27.