Cloudland-JCHS final score close, but Longhorns come out on top
By Jonathan PleasantWith four late game three pointers in a row, Dalton Timbs helped lead the Johnson County Longhorns to one of their biggest yet closest wins of the season against the visiting Cloudland Highlanders last week. Playing a tough first half, Timbs and other high scorers like Brian Dempsey, Chris Poteet, and J.R. Speed had managed a whopping 15 point lead by the third quarter only to have their victory nearly taken from them thanks to a series of tough foul calls early in the fourth. The Longhorns were able to hold on, closing out the night two points ahead of the Highlanders at 71-69.
With a long streak on the road, Coach Austin Atwood attributed much of the win to being back on familiar turf. “The biggest thing, number one, was getting back here to play,” Atwood said. “We haven’t played at home in about nine games and with this being the first game back they were anxious. We really went into this game to see how far we have come since we played at Cloudland. We played at Cloudland like playing at Alcatraz. It’s a tough place to go in, and for us to come in and do what we did tonight, for our kids to battle, they just did a really good job.”
The Longhorns were able to set the pace of the game, getting the first few baskets thanks to J.R. Speed, and with help from several strong lay-ups by Brian Dempsey, Johnson County was looking at a 12-6 lead with just under three minutes on the clock. Not to be counted out, Cloudland went into a strong run at the very end of the period that allowed them to close out with a 16-16 tie, setting the Longhorns back at the beginning of the second and creating a tooth and nail fight for the ball all the way to the half. With neither side going more than four points ahead at any point, the second quarter finally ended in Johnson County’s favor 33-30.
Back to back shots from Dalton Timbs and Chris Poteet helped push Johnson County’s advantage at the beginning of the third, but with Timbs going on his huge three point spree midway through the period, Cloudland was far from satisfied with the way the game was going. Landing each shot from the same position on the left corner of the court, Timbs attributed his accuracy more to luck than anything else.
“I just kept shooting,” Timbs said. “I didn’t even score the first half but it really clicked in the second. This is huge. The last time we played them we lost by 30 and then come here and win by two. This will get us back on top again.”
Timbsl steak continued into the beginning of the fourth quarter, when the Longhorns could finally claim a 15-point lead at 58-43. With both Timbs and fellow Junior Brian Dempsey carrying many of the Longhorn’s points in Chase Phillip’s absence over the past few games, Coach Atwood continues to be optimistic about the team’s end of the season run. “If there is any positive about having Phillips out it is Timbs seeing how good he can be, and that’s along with Brian Dempsey,” Atwood said. “That’s kind of been a blessing, because if these two can keep the mindset that I believe they have, then those two kids are just getting ready to really pour it on.”
Yet, as much as long-range shots helped Johnson County, late game fouls were just as harmful. In one single minute of game time early in the fourth, Johnson County racked up five consecutive fouls against them. With Cloudland rarely missing a shot, a 15-point lead quickly turned into a five-point lead, making the last couple of minutes a nervous race to the finish.
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