MURFREESBORO – Marshall County sophomore Caleb Fields scored 33 points, and the Tigers led for more than 19 minutes of Thursday’s Class AA quarterfinal matchup against Fayette Ware at MTSU’s Murphy Center before fading late.
Fayette Ware, making its state tournament debut, strung together a 30-point fourth quarter and knocked down 37 free throws to advance behind a 78-72 victory.
“I believe we got away from what got us here,” Marshall County coach Arnett Bodenhamer said.
Fayette Ware (25-8) jumped out to an early 6-2 lead, but Marshall County (17-15) finished the quarter with a 16-8 advantage after ending the first on a 14-2 run highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers for junior guard Tre Crutcher.
“I was just really feeling my shot early on,” Crutcher said.
Crutcher hit another 3-pointer early in the second quarter to help extend the Marshall County lead, but Fayette Ware was able to narrow the gap to 31-27 at halftime behind a 13-point second quarter from junior Maharitth Jackson.
The halftime break couldn’t cool down Jackson, who helped tie the game at 48-48 heading into the fourth with an 11-point third quarter.
He finished with a team-high 28 points.
“We came together and the ball started moving more,” Jackson said. “We started getting it out of our hands and once we started doing that my game started rolling — shots started falling.”
Fields scored 16 points in the fourth quarter.
“I guess I was feeling it,” Fields said.
“I want to introduce you to Caleb Fields,” Bodenhamer added. “A lot of people didn’t know about Marshall County. They do now.”
Despite Fields’ individual effort, Marshall County was no match for Fayette Ware’s ability to ice the game from the free throw line.
The Wildcats scored 23 of their 30 fourth-quarter points from the charity stripe.
Their 37 made free throws were just two shy of the state tournament-record 39 Kenton sank in 1957.
“It has probably been our Achilles heel this year — free throws in the last minute,” Fayette Ware coach Marcus Stokes said. “But we work on them every day in practice. Just thank God we made them.”
Reach Sam Brown at 615-259-8232 and on Twitter @SamBrownTN.