|JCHS plays close game with Bearcuts|
It was a fierce, high-energy battle all the way from tip-off through the final buzzer last Tuesday night in Johnson County’s first round of the annual John Battle High School Tip-Off Tournament. Playing the extremely talented Virginia High Bearcats, Johnson County not only held their own but actually controlled the game most of the evening. With nearly twice as many players on the bench, Virginia High eventually began to pull away late in the third quarter. Yet the Bearcats still had no easy victory as the Longhorns remained well within range of an upset all the way to the last minute of play.
“The effort was there,” explained Head Coach Austin Atwood. “You know you look back and you could do things different ways. I just think if we had made a couple of those late buckets it would have been a different story. We could have fouled earlier. It got down to about the 2:28 mark and I was asking myself ‘am I going to start fouling or keep this going?’ I just decided that we were going to make a couple plays, and we did, but we couldn’t finish those shots. If I had to go back we would have fouled a little earlier but when you’re just eight deep it’s tough.”
Although maintaining the effort throughout all four quarters proved a huge challenge, the Longhorns still came out in the first quarter on fire. In spite of a very vocal fan base for the Bearcats, Chase Phillips helped his team take first possession of the ball and very quickly was in a position to put the Longhorns on the board with a three pointer. A second quick shot by Dalton Timbs pushed Johnson County to a 5-0 lead, but Virginia High was just as quick to catch up. Regardless, using a fast pace and some extremely long passes Johnson County put up basket after basket through the first quarter, often in the hands of Timbs, but also with assistance from Brian Dempsey and Cody Bailie. More...
Longhorns leave Clintwood in the dust, winning 67-41
The Longhorns were still riding the high of their narrow conference win over Sullivan East as they made a triumphant return to John Battle High School in Virginia Friday night to take on the Clintwood Green Wave. Having played two consecutive nights of extremely high-speed action, Johnson County was already geared up and ready to fight when they came out against a largely unsuspecting Clintwood. As a result the Green Wave failed to match the intensity of the Longhorns’ starting line up, quickly giving way to a three pointer from J.R. Speed followed by shots from Cody Bailie, Brian Dempsey, and Chase Phillips.
“After last night we had a great effort,” exclaimed Coach Austin Atwood. “We just came out of an overtime game last night and played Tuesday night in another high tempo game. Considering we came out in three games in one week, starting off the way we did I was proud of them. I thought they played hard.”
Clintwood managed to keep up only for the first four minutes of the game, actually taking a very short lived lead 9-10 only to be completely swept away by a combined effort from the Longhorns starting line that resulted in a 23-10 lead by the beginning of the second. The Green Wave struggled on through the half, almost reaching 20, but by then players like J.R. Speed and Dalton Timbs were nearly breaking double digits individually. More...
Lady Horns give valiant effort but fall to Patriots
Although they were playing against one of their toughest opponents in the conference, the Lady Longhorns showed some renewed spirit and energy at home last week against Sullivan East. The final curtain ultimately fell in favor of the Lady Patriots, but even Coach Todd Whittemore acknowledged it wasn’t from a lack of effort.
“We did have some energy tonight,” Whittemore said. “I know that the last three games are not a true reflection of this team, but at times compared to the last two games we did handle the pressure a little bit better. I think our conditioning is a factor. Brooke Brown as a freshman played eight quarters a night every minute of every game and I remember when I played I did the same thing. We have three varsity starters playing JV and they should be thriving. There’s nothing wrong with having to play eight quarters a night when you’re a kid. If you’re in shape that’s fun because on JV you should be wearing people out. Right now our conditioning isn’t where it needs to be but there is no excuse to say that well I played in the JV game and didn’t have enough energy for the varsity.”
The conditioning issues aside, the Lady Longhorns did stick with East throughout most of the first quarter. Kourtney Tolley was first to get on the board, and even though the Lady Patriots quickly doubled with two buckets of their own, senior Brionna Reece was able to help even things out 4-4. The biggest problem for Johnson County was shutting down East’s long range shooters, an issue that quickly presented itself and forced the Lady Longhorns to play a game of keep up. With both Tolley and Reece continuing to land baskets, along with a little assistance from freshman Michala Cretsinger, by the 53-second mark Johnson County was only trailing by 10-12. In those last few seconds East gained several points on fouls, but those mistakes aside, the Lady Longhorns performed very well through the first period. More...
Horns win over Sullivan East 77-73 in a high energy game to remember
In what could be a turning point for this season, the Longhorns played one of the best and most exciting games that Shoun Gymnasium has possibly ever seen Thursday night against the visiting Sullivan East Patriots. Games against East are always high energy, especially considering the long history with current Patriots and former Johnson County Coach John Dyer. Yet last week’s game proved to be something truly special, starting out as an evenly matched, overly physical battle from start all the way to an explosive overtime finish. After weeks of facing narrow losses against extremely tough teams like Science Hill and Daniel Boone, the Longhorns first conference win against the Patriots finally proved that Johnson County is a very serious contender in any match up.
Even more importantly, the victory was one that every member of the team could say they truly earned. From top scorers like Brian Dempsey all the way down to rising stars like Brandon Vannoy, everyone on the roster played their part, including a returning J.R. Speed who has repeatedly overcome challenges both on and off the court to lead his team. “Having J.R back is great,” said Coach Austin Atwood. “He’s a little out of shape but I tell you he’s tough. You’re not going to meet a kid any tougher than him that’s got as big a heart. I can’t say enough good about J.R. He’s kind of the picture of what I want us to be like. We want to be the toughest, more physical team. That’s what John Dyer did. He came in here and knocked us around at our own game. In a heavyweight fight he won the first two rounds. They out rebounded us, out shot us, made all those free throws. He came with a great game plan.”
As Atwood pointed out, there was no point during the game that Johnson County could catch an easy break. From the very first quarter the two teams remained remarkably close on the scoreboard, first getting off to a good start with a basket plus one by Brian Dempsey only to be offset by two back-to-back Patriot buckets. Dalton Timbs and Chase Phillips helped Johnson County pull back out front, but within less than a minute East had caught up to tie 7-7. At this early stage Johnson County managed to keep control most of the period, eventually closing the first 17-12 with a last second shot by Brandon Vannoy. More...