DRAFFENVILLE – Four times this year, Marshall County’s Lady Marshals basketball team has played shutout for a quarter, holding an opponent to zero points for eight minutes.
In Thursday night’s Fourth District tournament championship game, the Lady Marshals outscored formidable Murray 20-1 in the final eight minutes to roar from a slender 1-point advantage at the end of the third period to a 44-24 runaway victory.
The victory claimed a 26th district championship for the First Region’s most successful girls basketball program, and lifted Marshall County to a region-best 27-5 record.
Murray, with victories over Marshall County by 6 and 5 points in two regular-season meetings, slipped to second place at 26-5.
Marshall County coach Joseph Simmons appeared stunned after the horn sounded.
“Wow,” the fourth-year coach said. “Just wow.”
Then, he added, “You’ve got to give our girls credit. The first half was one of the worst we’ve played all year.
“In the second half, we just hung around. We just wanted a chance in the fourth quarter.”
Not only did the Lady Marshals seize their chance, but they gave absolutely no chance to Murray.
The Lady Tigers did not miss all that many shots in the final eight minutes. Over and over again, Marshall County disrupted their opponents before they got a chance to try a shot.
Again and again, the Lady Marshals converted the turnovers into transition layups.
Fifteen of the turnovers were caused by Lady Marshal steals. Senior Toni Fehrenbacher had a half-dozen of them.
Prior to the fourth quarter, neither team could hit the basket with any consistency. Murray finished with a dismal 18 percent field goal percentage and Marshall County was a lukewarm 40 percent.
Seven Marshall County players accumulated the 44 points. None scored in double figures.
Bailey Greer had 9, Alyssa Barnard and Hannah Langhi 8 apiece, Michaela Manley and Fehrenbacher 6 each, Allie York 5 and Melissa Ross 2.
Barnard pulled down 11 rebounds.
Slender eighth-grade center Maddie Waldrop led all scorers with 10 points for the Lady Tigers.
There were six lead changes, the last one coming at the beginning of the third quarter when Fenrehbacher stole the ball and drove downcourt for a layup that made it 16-15.
Murray never caught up. A last-second basket at the end of the period was originally called a 3-point goal, which would have tied the score at 24-24, but officials ruled it was a 2-pointer.
That set the stage for the remarkable fourth quarter.
Langhi, Fehrenbacher and Barnard tallied to push the lead to 30-23 in the first 3-1/2 minutes, then Greer added two baskets in a row to make it 34-23.
The Lady Tigers finally changed the scoreboard when Waldrop was fouled and went to the line for two shots with 2:46 left to play. She missed the first one, but averted the goose egg by sinking the second shot.
It was a bizarre finish to a contest between two teams who have battled each other on the closest of terms over the past severan seasons. Last year’s district championship went to Murray, 70-69 in overtime, and then the Lady Marshals won the First Region title over the Lady Tigers 41-39.
“We just knew this was it,” said York, who missed all last season after having to undergo knee surgery just before the start of practice. “It was our last game on our home court” for York and fellow senior Fehrenbacher.
“We started taking a little bit more risk,” Fehrenbacher said of the clampdown that produced all the steals and turnovers. “We started anticipating passes.”
The players fed off each other’s energy, Fenrenbacher said, and just kept the lockdown in effect to the end of the game.
Simmons said he sensed the shutdown was coming in the final period.
“You could see it in their eyes,” he said. “They were not going to let us lose this game.”
Marshall Co. 10 15 23 24
Caldwell Co. 7 14 24 44
MURRAY: Macey Turley 5, Maddie Waldrop 10, Kayleigh House, Julie Thiede 4, Elizabeth Grogan 3, Brittany Lawson, Bethany Armstrong, Morghen Turley, Christina Duncan, Haley Glynn, Sarah McDowell, Lily Ramey 2, Hannah Clark, Grace Campbell
MARSHALL CO.: Bailey Greer 9, Allie York 5, Toni Fehrenbacher 6, Michaela Manley 6, Alyssa Barnard 8, Nikki Fehrenbacher, Paige Henson, Melissa Ross 2, Lexie Miller, Briley English, Josey Powell, Amanda Bailey, Miyah Davis, Hannah Langhi 8
Marshall Co. 65
Caldwell Co. 51
Junior point guard Bailey Greer and senior forward Allie York each scored 20 points to lead Marshall County to a semifinal victory Feb. 25.
York also had six steals, and Toni Fehrenbacher pulled down 10 rebounds to lead the Lady Marshals to a 32-25 advantage on the boards.
It was the third win of the season over the Lady Lakers, who finished 14-13.
Calloway senior Summer Simmons, who scored 33 points and helped push the visiting Lady Marshals to a hard-fought 53-49 decision on Jan. 10, had a 28-point effort but could not keep the orange-and-white team within reach in the district tourney clash.
Marshall County rolled to a 69-49 win on Feb. 14, and after both teams sputtered at the start, the Lady Marshals cruised away steadily to move into the championship game against Murray, which earned the bye with its regular-season district title.
Marshall County scored first, on a pair of free throws by Michaela Manley, and although Calloway forged three tie scores in the early going, the Lady Marshals never trailed.
They broke a 9-9 tie with a 3-point basket by York at the 6:24 mark and after Simmons scored to make it 16-15 three minutes before halftime, Marshall County began to cruise.
After intermission, the Lady Marshall offense began to hum. The team scored 20 points in the third quarter and then both teams got in a groove in the final quarter, with Marshall County outscoring Calloway 23-20.
Calloway Co. 7 18 31 51
Marshall Co. 9 22 55 68
CALLOWAY CO.: Summer Simmons 28, Abbey Spann 4, Bailey Brown 6, Danielle Potts 2, Darien Maness 3, Kelsey Douglas 2, Alex Arnett 2, Alicia Hornbuckle, Ashlyn Stalls 4, Ashton Shelton, Hannah Scarborough
MARSHALL CO.: Bailey Greer 20, Allie York 20, Toni Fehrenbacher 5, Michaela Manley 4, Alyssa Barnard 10, Nikki Fehrenbacher, Paige Henson, Melissa Ross, Lexie Miller, Briley English, Josey Powell, Amanda Bailey, Miyah Davis, Hannah Langhi 6