COOKEVILLE – Macon County found some of the lost swagger it had earlier in the season, using a fourth quarter surge to race by York Institute this past Tuesday night that locked up third place in the District 7-AA tournament with a 55-46 win.
After York Institute used an 8-1 run to tie the game at 37 at the end of the third frame, Macon County out scored the Dragons 18-9 over the final eight minutes with seniors Austin Kemp and Jeremy Phillips leading the way, scoring seven points each in the final period.
“We needed to come out tonight and get this because that will put us going into region tournament with a win and a lot of confidence,” said Phillips who scored seven of his nine points in the fourth. “We held it together out there and it’s what we needed to do so we could get his win.”
Macon County claimed a nine-point lead early during the third when junior Coty Harris pulled down an offensive rebound and laid it back in for two points with 4:29 remaining in the quarter, giving the Tigers a 32-23 lead.
However, the Dragons’ combo of Perry Atkinson and Jacob Allred stepped up during the final minutes of the third quarter.
Atkinson netted two quick baskets after the Boone basket and Allred scored four of the eight points during the 8-1 run and his buzzer beater tied the contest going into the fourth.
Allred, York Institute’s second leading scorer, was held to only six points, all of which coming during the latter half of the third.
Atkinson had game highs in points and rebounds, dropping in 17 while pulling down 13 boards.
A free throw from York Institute forward Tyrel Asberry gave the Dragons an early lead in the fourth quarter at 38-37, but from there it was all Macon County.
After the Asberry free throw, Phillips knocked down a trey from the right wing, giving the Tigers a 40-38 lead with 6:52 remaining in the final period of play.
Back-to-Back buckets from junior Brandon Tuttle and Kemp extended the lead to six and Tuttle’s basket with 1:18 left gave the Tigers a 48-41 advantage.
Kemp netted five points over the last 22 seconds to help Macon County pull away.
During his previous two games in the district tournament, Kemp had struggled from the floor. However, during the second half against York Institute, Kemp scored 13 of his 15 points during the second half. Kemp’s 15 points led all Macon County scorers.
“In the fourth quarter, we just said we had to win the last eight minutes and just play – just turn it loose and play,” said Macon County Coach Jason Welch. “We played really good and got the lead to six and went four corners and managed the game from there.”
Macon County forced 15 turnovers during the first half, but thanks to a 37 percent shooting effort during the first 16 minutes, the Tigers only held a 22-15 lead going into the break.
York Institute was limited to 31 percent shooting and 37 percent for the game. The Dragons were hampered by the absence of leading scorer Douglas Delk, who was hampered with an injury from the game before against Livingston Academy.
Macon County shot over 50 percent during the second half to seal the win, despite being out rebounded 45 to 26 by York Institute.