A pair of victories last week pushed Marshall County’s winning streak to seven, the season total to 20 wins and the Marshals to the top of the First Region basketball standings, but did little to sort out the matter of which team is the best in the Jackson Purchase.
The Marshals needed overtime Friday to get a 55-52 win over Graves County, which took a 42-40 win over Marshall County on Jan. 11 on their home court.
The losses to each other are both teams’ only defeats in region play. The Marshals are 20-4 while Graves is 19-6.
Last year, the two teams met in the first round of the region tournament and Marshall County took a decisive win on the way to its second straight Sweet Sixteen berth.
This year, they may very well meet again deeper in the region tourney, and the outcome is not nearly as easy to predict.
But for now, things are rosy for coach Gus Gillespie’s team. A Saturday night victory at Murray gave them a 4-0 record in Fourth District play, and with two district games on the card for this week, seedings for the district tournament will be determined.
Community Christian (6-17 overall, 1-6 in district play) visits Reed Conder Gymnasium tonight. The Marshals travel to Calloway County on Friday to close out district play. With a 72-62 win over Calloway (16-7, 4-1), the Marshals need only to defeat CCA to clinch at least a tie for first place.
On Saturday, the Marshals play at St. Mary in a non-district game.
After that, only two games remain in the regular season – at Mayfield Feb. 12 and at home to Christian County on Feb. 14.
Calloway County’s Jeffrey Gymnasium is the site of this year’s Fourth District tournament.
Marshall Co. 55,
Graves Co. 52 (OT)
Some turnovers and ill-advised shots down the stretch gave Graves County an opportunity to slice into a Marshall County lead, and the opportunistic Eagles did just that.
They outscored the Marshals 10-2 in the first 2-1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter, making it 43-40 at the 5:37 mark.
The Marshals got the lead back to five points at 47-42 midway in the period and 49-44 with 1:45 left in regulation, but Graves battled back.
Graves’ Justin Hayden completed the comeback with a three-point shot that knotted the score at 50-50 with 35 seconds to go, and a shot by Marshall’s Chase Clark went awry and out of bounds. Clark appeared to be fouled by Payton Puckett on the shot, but no foul was called. Noah Steele missed a desperation heave as the Marshals inbounded the ball with with less than half a second left.
Marshall County took a 51-50 lead after a minute and a half of scoreless play in the extra period and never trailed after that. Landon Turner hit the go-ahead free throw, and Clark blocked Zach Kimbler’s shot and then fired in a jump shot for a 53-50 lead. The Eagles cut it to 53-52 on a pair of free throws by Hayden, and Clark and Steele each hit one of two free-throw chances in the final 42 seconds to seal it.
Clark led the way with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Mason Beale had 15 for Graves before fouling out with 45 seconds left in regulation
Graves Co. 8 21 30 50 52
Marshall Co. 8 24 39 50 55
GRAVES CO.: Mason Beale 15, Tyler Starkey 5, Peyton Puckett 5, Jake Williams 6, Zach Kimbler 11, Andrew Smith 5, Justin Hayden 5, Eli Wilson
MARSHALL CO.: Noah Steele 9, Nathan Solomon 3, Mason Wooten 5, Chase Clark 20, Austin Rentfrow 7, Landon Taylor 9, D.J. Pigg, Nolan Nichols, Dalton McCoy 2
Marshall Co. 64, Murray 51
Murray took a 5-2 lead in a slow-starting game, but the Marshals eventually pulled ahead and were never seriously threatened after taking a 15-10 lead at the end of the first period.
Chase Clark scored 23 points to pace the Marshals. Austin Rentfrow added 13 points and 12 rebounds and Mason Wooten also scored 12.
Jamie Gilland, seeing his first action of the season after recuperating from a knee injury suffered during football season, contributed two points, a rebound, a blocked shot and a steal in just over seven minutes of action.
Andre Phillips and Tre Hornbuckle led the Tigers (10-14, 3-4) with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Marshall Co. 15 31 46 64
Murray 10 25 34 51
MARSHALL CO.: Noah Steele 9, Nathan Solomon, Mason Wooten 12, Chase Clark 23, Austin Rentfrow 13, Landon Taylor 3, D.J. Pigg, Beau Phillips, Jamie Gilland 2, Collin Travis, Dalton McCoy 2
MURRAY: Andre Phillips 11, Tre Hornbuckle 10, Daniel Nisbit 5, Dylan Boone 2, James Boone 5, Logan Foster 8, Dylan Upchurch, Taynden Sheppard 3, Des Jahvonni Miles 7, Adam Stubblefield