DRAFFENVILLE – Marshall County’s boys’ basketball team added three more victories, pushing its record to 17-1 last week.
The victories included a rare easy road victory at Paducah Tilghman, a typical hard-fought win at home against rival Graves County and a 27-point cruise over visiting Crittenden County.
All three games were against non-district opponents, with the wins over Tilghman and Graves pushing the Marshals’ record in First Region play to 8-0.
Tuesday night’s win was only the third against the Blue Tornado for Marshals coach Gus Gillespie in his tenure at MCHS. Last year’s team took a 69-68 loss on a buzzer-beating shot, but then went on to come from behind to beat Tilghman in the region tournament championship game.
Gillespie’s only wins over Tilghman on their Tornado Alley home court came in his first season, 2005, and in the 2008 championship game of Tilghman’s Christmas invitational tournament.
“It’s tough to win over here. I told the kids you better appreciate this,” Gillespie said.
In the 100th game between the two schools, the Marshals inched closer to an even record with Tilghman, the only First Region team with a winning record against Marshall County. The Tornado has a 56-44 edge.
The Marshals are idle until the weekend and the Gunner’s Magic Train Shootout Friday and Saturday. The team, ranked 18th by Kentucky.com’s Dave Cantrall this week, increased its winning streak to seven games since the only loss of the year, Dec. 29 against Montgomery County.
The Marshals ranked just outside the top 20 in last week’s Litkenhous Ratings. The Lit Ratings are updated each Tuesday.
Marshall County 73
Pad. Tilghman 58
PADUCAH – Marshall County made quick work of Tilghman, riding a 30-point third-quarter offensive explosion to an easy win Tuesday night at Dinning Gymnasium.
The Marshals jumped from a 2-2 tie to a 16-5 lead at the end of the first quarter. Tilghman’s last gasp was to close the deficit to eight points at 31-23 by halftime, with three-point baskets by Olajuwon Harmon, Michael Smith and Cody Schultz helping the Blue Tornado fight back against the Marshals and overcome a technical foul assessed against Tilghman coach Brad Stieg.
Tilghman hit four of nine shots from long range in the first half while connecting on only two other field goals.
But in the second half, the Marshals blistered the nets at a 70 percent clip to pull away. They finished with a 52.6 percent rate for the game, compared to Tilghman’s 36.7. The winners also were sharp from the free-throw line, hitting 28 of 35 for 80 percent. Tilghman hit 15 of 24 from the line.
Junior forward Chase Clark led the attack with 24 points, hitting eight of 13 shots from the floor and all eight of his free-throw attempts. Chase Clark and Cole Nelson added 14 and 13 points to the barrage.
J.D. Harmon led the Blue Tornado with 11 points, followed by Schultz and reserve guard Donald Overstreet with 10 apiece.
Tilghman dipped below the .500 mark with the loss, slipping to 6-7 overall and 5-2 in First Region play.
Marshall County 72
Graves County 64
DRAFFENVILLE – Friday night against Graves County, Gillespie predicted “a typical Marshall-Graves game,” meaning a tough, physical contest. The game was exactly what Gillespie anticipated.
Junior guard Tyler Starkey burned the Marshal defense for 25 points, scoring from the perimeter and on drives to the basket.
But the Marshals hit 11 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter to inch away to an eight-point win.
Steady play by veterans Chase Clark, Cole Nelson and Chase York carried the winners. Clark, a junior forward, had 17 points,Nelson 15 and York 14.
The trio hit a combined 19 of 25 free throws, including 10 of 12 for Clark and seven of eight for Nelson.
York, who hits at better than 80 for the season from the line, hit only two of five, but was five-for-nine from the floor, including a pair of three-pointers on four tries.
Clark also pulled down eight rebounds to lead the Marshals.
Marshall County led most of the game, but never was able to pull away to a comfortable advantage until the final minutes.
Starkey gave the Eagles their final lead in the game with two minutes, 33 seconds left in the third quarter. His basket, combined with a three-point shot by Jake Williams, erased a four-point Marshal edge and put Graves on top 41-40.
The Eagles forged two more ties after that, but never regained command.
Nelson hit a pair of free throws early in the final period to make it 49-47, then stole the ball and was fouled, hitting two more free throws for a 51-47 edge. Graves never got closer than three the rest of the way.
Marshall County 69
Crittenden Co. 64
DRAFFENVILLE – The Marshals jumped to an early 18-6 advantage and coach Gus Gillespie used his starters sparingly in a victory over the visiting Rockets, a youthful squad with no seniors.
Eleven of 14 players put points on the board for the winners, with starting center Austin Rentfrow leading the way with 11 points. The 6-6 Rentfrow hit five of six shots from the floor and one of three free throws.
None of the starters played more than approximately half of the game’s 32 minutes. Chase Clark, the Marshals’ leading scorer at 15.1 points per game, had nine points.
Thomas Scott, a 6-5 junior who played everywhere from the point to the post, took game scoring honors with 16 for the Rockets. Bobby Knox added 12.
The Rockets won the rebounding battle 41-32, with center Devin Clark hauling down 15.
First-year Crittenden coach brought his team to fill in an open date in both teams’ schedules. The Marshals lost a game originally scheduled early in the season against Fulton County, which canceled the game.