By CHIP CIRILLO
MURFREESBORO – Independence’s seniors waved to the student section as they left the court for the final time.
Even in defeat, the Eagles realized they accomplished a lot by making it to the final four.
Independence’s season ended with an 83-71 loss to Southwind, as Tennessee-Martin signee Carlos Marshall scored 27 points in a Class AAA semifinal at MTSU’s Murphy Center on Friday.
“This senior group, they left a legacy,” Eagles coach Greg Glass said. “They (averaged) 20 wins a season, won two district titles, a region title and a state semifinal. It’s a special group.”
Independence (24-11) couldn’t contain Marshall, a 6-foot-6 guard who hit 11 of 15 from the field, including two 3-pointers. He grabbed seven rebounds and dished out four assists.
Eagles guard Grayson Murphy, a Belmont signee who scored 24 points and hauled down 11 rebounds, will have more battles with Marshall during the next four years in the Ohio Valley Conference.
“He’s big, really big,” Murphy said. “Very physical and it’s hard to box him out. He hit about six or seven mid-range shots and he’s a bully down low, so he’s hard to guard.”
Sixth-ranked Southwind (33-6) shot 62.5 percent from the floor, including nine 3-pointers.
“My teammates got me involved early playing inside and everybody’s shots were falling,” Marshall said. “We were scoring a lot, but we weren’t really playing good defense at one point, but we just got it together.”
Southwind guards Christian Jones and Mark Freeman both added 15 points.
Kameron Jones, a 6-8 sophomore forward, scored 10.
“We’re a pretty good shooting team,” Jaguars coach Paul Edwards said. “Usually, when we start playing inside-out we are more successful with our jump shot. But hats off to Independence. They played a great game.”
Independence’s Corbin Daugherty, a 6-7 senior forward, scored 14 points and had seven rebounds in his final game.
Mac James added 12 and Jeremiah Barr added 10.
Barr’s jumper narrowed the deficit to 43-41 with 5:53 left in the third quarter, but Southwind closed the period with an 11-2 run.
Independence never got closer than nine the rest of the way as its 13-game win streak ended.
“We were getting good looks – it just wasn’t falling,” Glass said. “Sometimes the ball just doesn’t fall for you. We kept attacking and it just seemed like there was a lid on the basket.”
Both teams shot over 80 percent from the foul line as Southwind hit 14 of 16 and Independence connected on 15 of 18.
All of the Jaguars’ foul shots came in the last four minutes.
The 6-2 Murphy exits as Independence’s career leader with over 2,100 points and 500-plus assists.
“He’s a really good player,” Edwards said. “If you watch him on film, he’s so quick, he’s so big, he’s smart. He gets everybody involved and that’s big when your best player is getting everybody involved.”
Southwind gets a rematch with top-ranked Memphis East (35-3) in the championship at 1 p.m. Saturday.
East beat Southwind 73-62 in the Region 8-AAA final on March 2.