MURRAY - When it comes down to crunch time against a team that won't go away, free throws loom to be very important.
Luckily for Austin Rentfrow and the Marshall County Marshals, they were nearly perfect from the stripe and that effort allowed them to hold off a never-say-quit Mayfield Cardinals squad 50-42 Monday night in a boys First Region semifinal game at Murray State's CFSB Center.
Rentfrow, who scored a game-high 20 points, did his part by hitting two pair from the free-throw line with 1:22 and 1:13 left in the game, with the latter pair giving the Marshals a comfortable 46-39 advantage.
"Those free throws were very important," said Rentfrow, who went 6-of-6 from the line. The Marshals went 17-of-20 for the game, including 13-of-16 in the second half and 6-of-8 in the game's final 1:22.
"We were just on tonight, with a good team and good teammates, and we can all score the ball really well so that helped us win."
Marshall County (23-10) will take its spot in tonight's First Region championship game and will play McCracken County at 7 p.m. in the CFSB Center. McCracken County toppled Graves County 58-51 in Monday night's first semifinal.
"McCracken County is a very good team with very good post play," Marshall County coach Gus Gillespie said. "They are a handful in transition. For them to beat a very good Graves County team three times speaks volumes."
In Monday's game, after Rentfrow, Mason Wooten had 11 points for the Marshals. Rentfrow also had a game-high 15 rebounds.
Mayfield (13-16) was led by Haley Ballard's 15 points, Nick Felts' 11 and Taye Love's 10. Ballard and Lane Kennemore both pulled down six boards for the Cardinals.
Mayfield, which trailed by 12 early in the second period, was able to get within two points twice in the fourth, 35-33 with 7:06 to go on a Love layup and 39-37 with 2:11 to play on Felts' three-point play.
"We did fight all the way to the end, and I'm proud of my guys for that," Mayfield coach Chris Guhy said.
"We stuck with our game plan and knew we had to do something with their big kids and that zone. We got down early because of offensive rebounds, but we also had a couple of shots not fall our way and we still had a chance to win the game, which is all we could ask for."
Marshall County 15 23 35 50
Mayfield 7 19 31 42
MARSHALL COUNTY - Taylor 7, Pigg 4, Wooten 11, Warnick 4, Travis 4, Rentfrow 20.
Field goals 16/37. 3-pointers 1/12 (Taylor). Free throws 17/20. Rebounds 31. Fouls 13. Record 23-10.
MAYFIELD - Love 10, Guhy, Ballard 15, Kennemore 6, Felts 11, Downing.
Field goals 15/49. 3-pointers 4/17 (Kennemore, Felts). Free throws 8/12. Rebounds 28. Fouls 17. Record 13-16.
Call James D. Horne, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8661 or follow on Twitter @psunsports.