Horns battle hard but ultimately lose to Hampton
By Jonathan PleasantThe Longhorns began a tough week on the road against the Hampton Bulldogs last Monday night. With Hampton fans packing both sides of the gym, the atmosphere was anything but what Johnson County needed. Yet, despite that fact the Longhorns did very well in the first half, pulling a nine point lead by the end of the first quarter and trailing by just one point at half time.
A combined effort from Dalton Timbs, Brian Dempsey, Chris Poteet, and J.R. Speed was what kept the Longhorns in the game so long, while a very successful defense was able to press enough turnovers and win out on the rebound enough times to keep the Bulldogs at just five points for the whole first period
A three pointer by Chris Poteet helped keep Johnson County in the game during the second, along with another long range shot by J.R. Speed, but even with these advances and a significant lead coming into the quarter, Johnson County could not hold back the increasingly energized team of Bulldogs. Landing a whopping 21 points for the quarter, Hampton made up for their earlier setback and squeaked by just one point ahead at halftime 25-26.
Playing an extremely high-energy game, Coach Austin Atwood noted the toll the first half took on his team. “We did a good job in the first quarter,” Atwood said “We got up by 12 at one point and then we got a little tired, and they just killed us on the boards. When you don’t rebound you don’t win many. Hampton did a good job of attacking the boards.”
The Longhorns took back the lead early in the third quarter with a bucket from J.R. Speed, but a string of three Hampton Buckets midway through the period left Johnson County scrambling to catch up at 31-38. Things got even worse as the Bulldogs managed to land a couple of critical three point shots to push them well into the 40’s while the Longhorns were stranded at 33. A last bucket by Speed cut the deficit to six, but a last second shot right at the buzzer closed out the third with Hampton ahead by nine at 39-48.
The one bright spot for the game was that it gave some of the other players on Johnson County’s team the chance to get some valuable experience. In the case of senior Chase Kleine, the opportunity to knock off some of the rust coming from an earlier injury. “Kleine does some good things,” said Atwood. “He’s just got to figure his role out, which will be tough for him. He did some good things, plays hard. He just isn’t 100 percent yet. He made one bad pass from out of bounds and you can’t do that. He’s just got to realize what his role is on this team and play the best he can and hopefully he will.”
A quick bucket from Brian Dempsey started off the fourth on a good note, but for the next three minutes of game time the Longhorns could not get on the board. Three fouls in a row did not help the situation, and with just one minute on the clock, the score had gone from a realistic 41-48 at the beginning of the period to a dismal 41-61 by the end. With little hope of pulling out a win, Atwood began putting in some of his younger players who did a surprisingly good job.
In a single minute of game time, Morgan Eggers and River Cazire were able to gain the Longhorns 11 points, with most of Cazire’s coming from free throws as the Bulldogs fouled him while worked his way under the net. Even with this last minute burst of luck, it was simply too little too late to overcome the big Hampton advances earlier in the period.