Tide surge in second half dooms Rebels 

RIGHT TURN – McKenzie’s Zayden McCaslin makes a right turn toward the goal during the Rebels’ loss to Peabody in the state quarterfinals. Photo by Carol Nanney.
PUSHING THROUGH – McKenzie’s Zay Webber pushes past a Peabody defender. Photo by Carol Nanney.
UP HIGH – McKenzie’s Marquez Taylor goes up high for two against Peabody. Photo by Carol Nanney.

The McKenzie Rebels fought hard but had no solutions as they suffered a 63-48 season-ending loss to the Tide in the Class A quarterfinals in Murfreesboro Thursday.

The Rebels hung with Trenton-Peabody for a half and closed within seven to start the third quarter, 25-17.

From there, the Golden Tide sprinted to a 17-3, run and doubling McKenzie’s score, 42-21, midway through the third.

The Tide had too much length and athleticism for McKenzie. Rebel coach John Wilkins said as much in his post-game remarks. The Rebels struggled from the floor, shooting 27 percent, but they did have a decided rebounding edge, 46-36. The Tide, however, had an early 9-0 rebounding advantage on MHS.

“We just talked about that (the shooting woes), but I told them if we win the backboard, we win the game,” Wilkins said. “Trenton may be more athletic than us, but our kids work hard.”

Sadly for the Rebs, going 17-61 from the floor hurt. McKenzie had struggled with issues scoring all season long and needed a good offensive night to have a chance. The Rebels were right at their seasonal average when the horn sounded. 

McKenzie stayed right with the Tide in the first quarter. Marquez Taylor landed the first of his team’s two triples with 2:23 to play in the first, followed by a pair of free throws from Zayden McCaslin with :50 to play to knot the score at 10. Peabody’s Demarcus Kee scored with :06 in the first to nudge the Tide in front 12-10.

Peabody rolled to a 10-2 run to start the second quarter and led 22-12. McKenzie just couldn’t pry the lid off the bucket. Still, it was in the game. Taylor’s back-to-back buckets narrowed the divide to six points, 22-16. Jason Hunt’s three with 1:49 left lifted the Tide back in front by nine, 25-1.

The Rebels we’re just 3-13 from the field in the second. 

“We played hard and I knew we would, but it’s tough when you don’t finish,” Wilkins said. “I hate it. I hate it for the kids, I hate it for the fans, and I hate it for us … we were 2 for 17 from three and had wide-open looks and couldn’t knock them down. Then we were 15-45 or whatever from two. But these guys didn’t quit and I think they really believed they were going to come back. They played hard to the end and I think that says a lot about their character.”

Demarcus Kee led the Tide with 21 points. Hunt had 16 points and Derek Kee added 14 points and 13 rebounds. Peabody advanced to defeat Clay County 51-43 the semifinals on Friday and then settled for state runner-up with a 67-42 loss to East Robertson on Saturday, finishing with a  25-10 mark.

Taylor led the Rebels with 18 points. Bryson Steele had 10 points and 18 rebounds. Tate Surber scored eight points and pulled down eight boards. Lone senior McCaslin scored seven, Stafford Roditis tossed in three and Zach Aird finished with two.

The Rebels end their season at 21-8, having won both District 11A and Region 6A championships.

THE BENCH – McKenzie Head Coach John Wilkins and players watch the action from the bench at state. Photo by Ron Park.
DRIVING – McKenzie’s Zach Aird drives across the court against Peabody. Photo by Ron Park.
CONSOLATION – McKenzie Head Coach John Wilkins and Assistant Coach Hunter Herrin console Zayden McCaslin after the Rebels’ loss to Peabody. Photo by Ron Park.

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