Tolley tabbed as JCHS’ new head girls’ basketball coach

By Tim Chambers
One of the areas most respected and successful high school basketball coaches spent the 2016-17 season as an assistant coach and observer on the sidelines for Johnson County. That role changed dramatically on Tuesday.
Leon Tolley was selected by school officials as the new girls’ head basketball coach according to Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox . He replaces Thomas Wampler who will remain in the system as a teacher.
Tolley was a standout player at Hampton High School where his team reached the championship games during his sophomore and senior seasons.
He was named MVP of the state tournament in 1983, the only time a player has ever been selected from the losing team.
He averaged 15 points per game and was tabbed to the All District, All Region, All Conference and All Northeast Tennessee teams.
His coaching resume is just as impressive.
Tolley averaged 21 wins per season in his seven years as head coach at Hampton. His Lady Bulldogs compiled an overall record of 156-81.
He took the Dogs to a pair of state tournaments in 2009 and 2013 and his 2009 team recorded the school’s first ever win in girls basketball at the state.
During his seven seasons he won three conference titles, two Districts, one Regional and appeared in two sub-states.
His quest is to try and rejuvenate a program that hasn’t made the Regional tournament in almost 15 years.
He’ll start the rebuilding process with some promising players. The incoming sophomore class is talented. The juniors and senior players will have gained some valuable varsity experience and a few freshmen could surge into the lineup.
But things will be different according to Tolley when he sits down and makes out his itinerary.
“It definitely helps me to have watched all the kids play,” said Tolley. “But things are going to be a little bit different next year. Right now we don’t need to scrimmage anybody. We’ve got to get in the gym and work. They are going to learn their expectations and how I want things done. They’re going to learn how to play the right way. If we can get to the point where we can scrimmage somebody then we’ll find us a camp or two and go.”
Tolley overhauled a Hampton program that struggled after the departures of head coaches Doug Phillips and Leslie Campbell. He shared some things he’ll be trying to implement.
“We are going to play fundamentally sound and with effort,” said Tolley. “You can have a bad day shooting but you should never have a bad day effort wise. I am sure they can all play harder than they did this year. I think they all will admit to that.”
The new head coach observed the varsity players but he also saw some budding junior varsity and freshman players too. Some of those never got an opportunity to play at the varsity level. He noted that all that is about to change.
“Everyone will be on an equal playing field when we start,” added Tolley. “I don’t see freshman, sophomore, junior or senior when kids take the floor. I’m looking at players and athletes because we are trying to build a successful program. Everything will be earned and not given.”
Tolley touched on what he’s looking for in a player.
“I want somebody who wants to be coached and that’s going to give me all that they’ve got. If you are not a scorer then you can be a defender or a rebounder.  No two kids are the same but everyone can play hard.”
The Lady Longhorns defeated only two TSSAA schools during Wampler’s tenure. They knocked off Sullivan North twice and Sullivan South on homecoming night. North never won a conference game and the Lady Rebels placed fifth.
“You are going to play good teams night in and night out,” said Tolley. “That’s a given, but our first goal is to be competitive. We want to make teams have to prepare for us. When we become competitive then we can start trying to win these ball games. But it just doesn’t happen overnight.”
Tolley added he was thankful for the opportunity that had been passed down to him. He vowed to give his best.
‘I look at this as the ultimate challenge,” said Tolley.  “I’ve always wondered if building a good girl’s program here could be done. We will give it our best shot and I promise that no team will outwork us. It’s definitely going to take a lot of hard work from all of us.”

Tim’s Tomahawk Talk – Time to ‘toss’

By Tim Chambers

Baseball and softball season is just around the corner and the teams have been “tossing” for over a month. It’s safe to say that boys head basketball coach and athletic director Austin Atwood have been “tossing” to.
The 2016-17 basketball campaign was one of frustration and heartbreak on the boys’ side. Who could blame Atwood for losing sleep? I would have been tossing in my sleep too after losing a slew of close conference games.
The Longhorns had more bad luck than Howdy Doody had freckles this year.  Let’s recap the road to misery.
It all started with a 71-70 loss to DeKalb County in a tournament at Cannon County High School. The Horns had the lead in the final seconds but couldn’t hang on.
Next was a 64-60 barnburner home loss to Hampton. It’s another contest where they held the lead only to watch it slip away in the final minute.
The same can be said at Happy Valley where the Horns led by nine going into the final quarter but lost 63-59. They shot 22 percent in the final period.
But there’s more.
They led late in the third quarter at Unicoi before falling 48-37. The trailed by only one point at Sullivan East at the end of the third stanza but ended up losing by 10.
Overtime home losses to Happy Valley (73-68), Unicoi County (58-50) and Sullivan East (77-68) were games that the Horns could have pulled out a victory. They stubbed their toe at Sullivan South, a costly 45-36 loss that placed them as the sixth seed in the District tournament.
Their reward was playing Unicoi County in the first round that happens to be playing for the championship on Tuesday after upsetting Elizabethton. The Longhorns shot 52 percent against the Blue Devils and still lost. The Blue Devils shot seven percent better than the Horns and three percent better than that against the Cyclones.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s

Longhorns bounced by Unicoi Blue Devils 67-54

JC’s Sean Lewis #24 fires a pass that resulted in a layup

By Tim Chambers

ERWIN—Johnson County found out that chasing Unicoi County’s early lead was like Wile E Coyote trying to chase down the Roadrunner. At times they got close, but never close enough to overtake it.
Unicoi County (17-13) ended the Longhorns’ season with a 67-54 win on the Devils home court in the District 1-AA tournament played on Friday.
The Longhorns finished the year with an 11-16 mark.
The Blue Devils scored the first five points of the game and led 18-15 after one. Johnson County tied the game in the second quarter at 23-all but never could surge in front.
They trailed 35-27 at the half.
“We never could get the stops when we needed them,” said Johnson County head coach Austin Atwood. “We were never out of the game but we couldn’t pull ahead either. We had chances to take the lead in the second quarter but turned it over. Give them credit because they kept knocking down shots. They’re very tough to beat playing at home.”
Not only did the missed shots hurt but turnovers too. The Longhorns had three straight with the game tied at 23 all. The Blue Devils converted off all three miscues.
“That was a critical moment in the game,” added Atwood. “It might have forced them to play a little different had we scored off a couple of those. That was a momentum changer for them.”
The Longhorns rode the first-half play of Bud Icenhour in this one.
He hit four of his game high seven treys in the first half, two in each quarter. The rest of the team could muster only 14 points.
That wasn’t the case for Unicoi County who gathered several contributions up and down its lineup.
Dylan Putman tied Icenhour for game high honors with 18. He scored 14 in the first half that sparked the Blue Devils’ offense.
“To reach our goal we had to win,” said Putman. “We want to win the whole thing on Tuesday.”
Johnson County stayed close behind seven points from Jordan Edes in the third quarter but still trailed 49-39.  And they cut that in half to start the fourth.
Icenhour’s long trey and a basket by Edes trimmed the deficit to 49-44 with six minutes remaining. Hensley and Simpson stopped the run with back-to-back deuces that pushed the advantage back to nine.
Hensley was a thorn in Johnson County’s side for the entire game. He finished the night with 15, points, nine assists, seven rebounds and three steals.
Troy Podvin added 14 points and eight rebounds. Clay Simpson chipped in with eight points, four rebounds, three blocks and three steals.
The Blue Devils out-rebounded Johnson County 28-16.
Austin Houser had nine in his last game as a Longhorn.
“Austin was at a size advantage but he played hard and rebounded well,” added Atwood. “He’s meant a lot to our program. He gave us some excellent play tonight.”
Icenhour finished with 18 points, hitting six treys. Edes added 14 points, four rebounds and two steals. Atwood accounted for six points, six assists and two steals.
There is a silver lining at the end of the rainbow for the Longhorns. All five starters will return next season in addition to its top reserves.
Johnson County is expected to be tabbed as the frontrunner for the 2017-18 season.

Happy Valley Warriors eliminate Lady Longhorns 79-41

JC’s Courtney Brooks #20 tries to evade HV’s Tiana Long #00

By Tim Chambers

ERWIN— Johnson County looked like a team that was ready to pull off a possible upset, but their shot selection after the first four minutes dug them a hole that they never would get out of. The Warriors took advantage of some Longhorn miscues and won handily 79-41 in the first round of the District 1-AA girls’ tournament played at Unicoi County High School.
It was classic basketball played by the Horns in the early going. A pair of baskets by Courtney Brooks tied the game at four-all and two more buckets from Britain Peele whittled a six-point deficit to 11-9 at the midway mark.
From that point it was all Warriors.
They led 19-12 after one and proceeded to go on a 16-3 run that extended their advantage at 35-15. During the run Johnson County made only 1-of-11 shots and four never hit the rim.
Happy Valley held a 20-point advantage at the half. Head coach Larry Abel said the play was to step it up on defense.
“We turned up the defensive pressure and forced them to take some bad shots,” said Abel. “We were a little sloppy on our offensive execution but our defense allowed us to get some easy baskets.”
Abel was correct on his assessment to a tee.
Time after time the Warriors worked the ball and got shots inside the paint or were able to penetrate and kick it back out for wide-open threes. That wasn’t the case for the Longhorns.
They began the third quarter on a 7-2 run, getting a three-ball by Brittany Brooks and four points from her sister Courtney that helped whittle the deficit down to 44-31, but that’s when the final rock slide occurred.
Kaitlyn Roberts began the avalanche with a trey and it ended with Emily Whitaker and Adrienne Henegar knocking down threes. Happy Valley outscored the Horns 21-3 in the span and extended their mammoth advantage at 65-34.
“We’ve experienced this all year,” said Johnson County’s head coach Thomas Wampler. “When things are going good we have a tendency to try and do things individually and that was the case tonight. We missed some open shots that were good shots, but we played a little selfish at times on some misses. The conference tournament atmosphere might have had a little something to do with that.”
The atmosphere was nearly perfect for Happy Valley.
Four Lady Warriors reached double figures. Henegar, Whitaker and Roberts tallied 17 points each. Freshman Shayln Whitson added a double-double, 10 points and 10 rebounds. Bayley McGee had a monster game with eight points, seven assists and five steals.
Henegar, Roberts and McGee are all sophomores.
Happy Valley out-rebounded Johnson County 31-15. Tianna Long and Whitaker provided seven apiece.
Courtney Brooks was the only Johnson County player in double figures with 16. Senior guard Michala Cretsinger was held to two points and took only four shots from the field in her final game.
The Longhorns shot a frigid 13-of-50 (26 percent) from the field.
Wampler touched on the season as a whole.
“We had 12 wins, the most the girls have had in quite some time. We beat a good Holston team twice and had a conference win against South. I feel like the team has made some progress.”

Completed application required for hunting and fishing guide licenses beginning in 2017-18

NASHVILLE — Tennessee sportsmen and non-residents, who work as hunting and fishing guides in the state, will now have to complete an application for their licenses beginning with the 2017-18 license year.

Resident and non-resident guide licenses will only be available by application effective Feb. 18, 2017, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Guides wishing to apply can go online at to get an application. Once filled out, the application can be sent by fax or mail (number and address are included on the application) or the application can be taken to a TWRA regional office. Regional offices are located in Jackson, Nashville, Crossville, and Morristown.

The agency will immediately issue a 30-day temporary license and then send by mail, a hard copy license before the temporary period ends. The size of a credit card, this year’s guide licenses features a rainbow trout.

The cost for guide licenses is $150 for Tennessee residents. The cost is $650 for non-Tennessee residents.

2017-18 Tennessee hunting and fishing licenses go on sale February 18

TWRA logo for NRNASHVILLE — The 2017-18 Tennessee hunting and fishing licenses will go on sale Saturday, Feb. 18.

Licenses are available at Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) regional offices, license agents, on the TWRA website,, and at the TWRA “On the Go App” and charged to a credit card.

The 2017-18 licenses are valid through February 2018. License sales provide the primary funding for the TWRA, which does not receive any funding from the state’s general fund (i.e. state sales tax). The 2016-17 licenses expire Feb. 28.

Resident licenses may be purchased by persons who possess a valid Tennessee driver’s license; persons who have lived in Tennessee for 90 consecutive days with the genuine intent of making Tennessee their permanent home (but do not hold a driver’s license in another state); military personnel on active duty in this state and their immediate families, who reside with them, regardless of resident status; students who are enrolled in a Tennessee school, college, or university for at least six months. A Social Security number is required to purchase a Tennessee hunting or fishing license.

Through the internet, charges are $4.25 for licenses mailed and $3 for self-print or emailed.

In case of a lost license, duplicate licenses can be obtained from any TWRA license agent for an $8 fee. Also, valid duplicate licenses can be printed online at no cost by selecting the reprint my licenses button on the customer information screen.

Resident and non-resident guide licenses will only be available by application as of Feb. 18, 2017. Replacements will only be available by application as well.

Beginning this license year, customers have the option to purchase a hard-copy collector’s card for any annual license. The size of a credit card, the license features recreated paintings by famed Tennessee artist Ralph McDonald. Specific license information is on the back of the card.

Lady Longhorns stave off Sullivan North 40-34

JC’s Taylor Parsons #22 out jumps North’s Kaitlyn Vaughn #15 for  a rebound

JC’s Taylor Parsons #22 out jumps North’s Kaitlyn Vaughn #15 for  a rebound

By Tim Chambers

Winning ugly can be a good thing and that was the case with Johnson County’s victory over Sullivan North. The Lady Longhorns overcame 37 turnovers and prevailed 40-34 inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium on Tuesday.
Neither team could get a “bear claw” on the basketball which turned the tiny dome into a bakery. North ended the game with 28 as the two teams combined for 65 turnovers, but the only thing sweet in the end was a Lady Longhorns’ victory.
It appeared as if the tempo would be fast paced in the early going. Michala Cretsinger swished a three-ball and added a deuce, giving the Horns a 5-0 advantage. But the offense would fizzle out from there.
Their only other points came on two short jumpers by Taylor Parsons in the paint, but still they led 9-6. North made only 2-of-12 shots in the frame.
“We played scrappy,” said Cretsinger. “It’s that way anytime we play Sullivan North. The game was ugly, but fortunately we hit a few more shots than they did. We definitely didn’t play our best but Taylor Parsons did. Putting her in the starting lineup has given her some confidence. She’s played great the past two games.
Her assessment about Parsons was spot on, but she failed to mention herself as being a key component.
The senior guard tallied 20 points including a pair of treys in the third quarter when North was making a run. She also tacked on seven rebounds and a game high five steals in addition to nine points in the second period.
The Longhorns outscored North 19-11 in the second quarter and led 28-17 at the half. Britain Peele had a couple of key buckets in the frame, but the play of Parsons factored heavily on the outcome.
She ended the game with 18 rebounds, eight blocked shots and eight points. She had 19 rebounds in her previous start versus South.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk on sale now.


Johnson County Middle School benefit breakfast for softball

The Johnson County Middle School softball team will host a benefit breakfast on Saturday, February 18 from 6 am till 9:30 am at the Crewette Building.
Menu items will feature eggs, meat, biscuits and gravy, potatoes, grits, preserves, coffee and juice.
Adults can purchase a ticket for $6. Elementary ages 6 and under eat free.
Head coach Greg Reece is hoping for a great turnout.
Come early, come hungry and come all.

Sullivan East Lady Patriots pulverize Longhorns 68-29

By Tim Chambers

One blink of the eye and it was over. East scored early and often in their 68-29 win over the Lady Longhorns on Friday night inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium.
The Patriots scored the games’ first 14 points and led 25-2 after one.
Alyssa Hare hit three treys in the period and Kaylee Wolfe provided another in addition to six points from Megan Ollis.
The trio combined to score 45 points in the game with Hare collecting 17 and Wolfe and Ollis adding 14 apiece in limited action.
Michala Cretsinger led the Longhorns with 12 points. Abby Cornett added a half dozen hitting two treys and Courtney Brooks had five. Taylor Parsons collected seven rebounds and Brittney Brooks added six.
Head coach Thomas Wampler pretty much summed up the entire night.
“We didn’t show up to play,” said Wampler. “At no time were we ever in the game.”
The Lady Longhorns led East the entire first half at the Patriot Palace in their last meeting and trailed 24-23 at halftime. This time it was over before fans could get comfortable in their seats.

Junior Varsity
Johnson County 51
Sullivan East 38
There was a positive side in the afternoon junior varsity tilt.
Taylor Cox fired in 17 points helping Johnson County earn a 51-38 win over the Lady Patriots.
Cox, Taylor Parsons and Abby Cornett scored four points each in the first quarter helping the Longhorns gather a 15-5 advantage.
The Longhorns used seven points from Adrian Hall in the second quarter to build a 29-17 halftime advantage.
The Longhorns led 39-29 after three and maintained that advantage with the help of Cox who hit two treys in the final quarter.
Hall and Parsons finished with 10 points each and Cornett scored seven to compliment Hall’s output.
Cox, Hall, Parsons and Cornett are all freshmen.

Sullivan East edges JCHS Longhorns in overtime 77-68

Edes SE.cmyk

JC’s Jordan Edes #21 scores with East’s Cole Green #54 defending.

By Tim Chambers

Johnson County’s best performance of the season against co-champion Sullivan East wasn’t quite good enough to get the win, but it definitely caught the eye of Sullivan East head coach John Dyer.
It took overtime for the Patriots to prevail 77-68 inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium before a capacity crowd on Friday.
The final quarter had the home crowd standing on their feet after Johnson County had overcome a double-digit deficit.
East had a chance to salt the game away in the final seconds leading 63-60 with leading scorer Gavin Grubb on the foul line.  A rare miss by the senior standout left the door open for Johnson County to tie.
The Longhorns elected to try an errant three-ball from the corner but missed badly.  A hustling Nathan Arnold ran down the rebound near the top of the key and launched a three-ball as time expired.
It banked in nicely sending the crowd into frenzy and the game into overtime. But it was all East from that point.
Grubb showed his savvy by hitting a remarkable off balanced layup that resulted in a three-point play to put East in front to stay at 68-65. It was those types of plays that left Dyer shaking his head.
“Both teams played hard for 36 minutes,” said Dyer. “Johnson County had a rough stretch there in the middle of the season, but they didn’t quit and here they are back playing well. They have a great team with some really good shooters. They are as good as anyone in the league right now and I’m expecting them to play that way in the tournament.”
Johnson County used six points by Sean Lewis and five apiece from Bud Icenhour and Dawson Snyder to take a 21-19 first quarter lead.
East recovered in the second quarter to outscore Johnson County 19-8 and took a 38-29 halftime advantage.
Cole Green scored 10 first-half points after Aaron Frye had tallied eight for the ‘Pats in the first period. Edes had 10 for Johnson County at intermission and he continued to light it up in the second half.
The Longhorns managed to chop the deficit down to five, trailing 55-50 heading into the final quarter. Lewis scored five straight points in the final two minutes and Edes converted a deuce at the buzzer. Icenhour’s two treys got the ball rolling early for the Horns who trailed at one point by a dozen in the period.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk on sale now.


Four champions crowned in Johnson County Youth Tourney

By Tim Chambers

The Johnson County Youth Basketball League came to a close on Saturday with four championship games being played. Three took place inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium while Roan Creek Elementary School hosted the C-Division title.

C-Division Championship
Mountain City #2 (20)
Mountain City #4 (7)
The biscuits and gravy hadn’t had time to settle when MC 2 and MC 4 took the court. The early bird special was played at Roan Creek Elementary due to the need of nine-foot goals.
MC #2 rode the play of Carter Atwood to a first place finish and won easily 20-7.
He staked his team to an 8-0 lead by sinking four field goals in the first period.
Hunter Paisley got MC #4 on the board in the second period scoring three points, but Atwood hit a couple of shots to make it 12 -3 at halftime.
Atwood scored MC 2’s first 14 points before Dylan Reece hit for two in the fourth quarter.
Atwood ended the game with 16 while Reece had the other four.
Paisley tallied six points for MC #4. Eli Stamper had the other point.
Atwood and Paisley were awarded MVP for their respective teams. Gage Grissom was all conference for MC #2 while Rylee Henson gathered that honor for MC #4.
MC #2 finished the season undefeated in league and tournament play.

B-Division Championship
Mountain City #2 (19)
Mountain City #4 (16)
The first upset of the day was pulled off by Mountain City #2. They overcame a 13-7 halftime deficit to knock off league champion Mountain City #4 by the score of 19-16.
Jace Stout, Noah Brown and Ethan Ward all had baskets in the first quarter helping MC #4 take a 7-3 lead.
Andrew Long had MC#2’s only field goal.
MC #2 tried to edge closer on a bucket by Kaden Blevins to start the second quarter but two baskets by Stout and one from Noah Brown offset that.
Carson Jennings had a late basket for MC #2, but they trailed at halftime 13-7. They slowly began to chip away at what once was an eight-point deficit.
MC #4’s only basket in the third period came from Dylan Warren. Carson Jennings scored three points for MC #2 who trailed 15-11 going into the final quarter.
That’s when MC #2 made its move.
Back-to-back baskets by Carter Rhudy and Jennings tied the game at 16 all. Derek Baird’s bucket gave MC #2 a two-point lead in the final minute. Long added a free throw to seal the deal.
Jennings led MC #2 in scoring with seven. Baird added five, Long scored three with Rhudy and Blevins collecting two apiece.
Stout topped MC #4 with seven points. Brown tossed in four and Warren provided three. Ethan Ward closed out their scoring with two points.
Baird and Stout were tabbed as the MVP’s for their teams Jennings and Warren were selected to the All Conference team.

Girls Championship
Mountain City #1 (30)
Roan Creek #2 (23)
The girls from Roan Creek put up a good fight, but MC #1 was too strong in the end.
MC #1 jumped on top 10-2 in the first quarter, getting six points from Peyton Gentry and four by Braden Eastridge.
Roan Creek battled back to pull within one in the second quarter. Brookanna Hutchins had five points that helped cut the lead at 12-11. Gentry’s basket in the final seconds gave MC #1 a 14-11 halftime advantage.
MC #1 extended their advantage to 20-13 in the third quarter on a pair of buckets by Gentry and one from Eastridge.
Autumn Lewis and Amy Gunter had two huge buckets that got Roan Creek back within three at 20-17 going into the final period.
MC #1 got a huge lift from Chloe Bryant in the fourth stanza. She tallied eight points which included a pair of baseline jumpers and two putbacks. Roan Creek cut the lead to one twice in the quarter, but each time Bryant answered the call with a basket.
Gentry scored a game high 14 points for MC #1. Eastridge and Bryant provided eight apiece.
Lewis topped Roan Creek #2 with 10 points. Hutchins added seven points, Gunter tossed in four and Warren tallied two.
Hutching was selected as the MVP for Roan Creek with Lewis making All Conference.
Gentry was the MVP on MC #1 championship squad. Sierra Green was tabbed as All Conference.

A-Division Championship
Doe #1 (47)
Mountain City #1 (32)
Undefeated Doe fell behind early but rallied back to earn a 15-point victory.
Austin West connected on a pair of treys to get Doe going in the first quarter, but MC #1 was a bit better.
Five points by George Grill including a trey and Peyton Pavusek’s bucket put MC #1 in front 11-6.
Doe trailed 13-10 after one but found its offense in the second quarter.
Conner Pierce blistered the nets for nine points including a trey at the buzzer helping Doe to a 29-19 halftime advantage.
Doe continued to expand their lead in the third quarter. Caleb Pierce scored six points, getting a pair of nice feeds from Graham Reece. And they continued to do damage in the final period. Doe’s lead soared to 45-21 midway through the fourth quarter but MC #1 went on a 11-2 run to end the game.
Conner Pierce led Doe with a game high 17 points. Caleb Pierce added 14 and West tallied 12. Reece scored two points but played a great floor game with six assists. Sebastian Adams closed out their scoring with a deuce.
George Grill and Pavusek had nine points each for MC. Chris Grill added six, Gaylen Dugger four and Evan Dollar and Daniel Stout had two apiece.
Graham Reece was selected as Doe’s MVP while Caleb Pierce was tabbed as All Conference.
Grill earned MVP honors for MC #1. Pavusek was tabbed for All Conference.

Longhorns stampede past Unaka Rangers 79-39; ladies lose 46-26

By Tim Chambers

Three Longhorns were sent out in style on senior night inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium. Austin Houser, Daniel Cunningham and Joe Lawson played a big role in their 79-39 win over Unaka on Monday.
The trio took advantage of their complimentary start by providing some quality minutes and a combined 27 points.
Houser led the team in scoring with 16 points and grabbed five rebounds. Cunningham added six points and seven rebounds. Lawson rang up five points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Head coach Austin Atwood was all smiles after the game.
“These three guys have been a huge part of this program,” said Atwood. “They have attended every practice and they go all out every day. Tonight they stepped up and played their hearts out. Houser had one of his better games while Daniel and Joe made things happen while out on the floor.”
They definitely made things happen and so did the other starters when they entered for the first time.
Blake Atwood scored 11 points in the opening frame by hitting 4-of-5 from the field including two treys.
Unaka was leading 7-6 when Nathan Arnold stepped up to knock down a go-ahead trey.
Johnson County closed the period on a 15-0 run capped off by Atwood’s three-ball. The Horns led 21-7 after one.
The Horns stayed hot in the second quarter getting great production by several different players. They amassed a total of 30 points and led 51-17 at the half.
Bud Icenhour swished two long-range treys in the second quarter that continued the run. Jordan Edes scored 10 first-half points. Zack Eller had a couple of strong moves that led to his four points. Arnold provided another trey to aid the four points scored by Atwood and Snyder.
The Horns led 51-17 at the half.
The seniors got in on the act in the third quarter with Houser leading the way. He finished the half with 10 points and scored 17 for the game. One was a slam dunk that brought the crowd to its feet. Cunningham had four points in the third and another basket in the fourth. Lawson rang up a three-ball in the fourth quarter after hitting a deuce in the third.
Tyler Lewis scored a game high 24 points while the rest of his team combined for only 15.
Atwood completed his short stint with 15 points. He hit 5-of-6 shots from the field. Edes added 10 points and seven boards. Icenhour sank three treys for nine points. Arnold, Cunningham and Snyder scored six apiece before sitting nearly the entire second half.
“We’ve been playing pretty well for the past four or five games,” said Atwood. “We need to be at our best on Friday. I want Houser, Cunningham and Lawson to enjoy this win tonight. We’ll come back in tomorrow and begin working on a game plan for Unicoi County.

Unaka 46
Johnson County 26
The Lady Longhorns didn’t fare as well on senior night for Michala Cretsinger and Lexi Forrester. Johnson County held a 7-5 lead with 2:21 remaining in the first when the Horns decided to sub in some fresh players.
It backfired because Unaka went on a 15-0 run before Cretsinger could stop it with a deuce.
The Rangers held a comfortable lead the entire way.
Myah Parlier led the way with 16 points. Erica Potter had a strong game with 10 points.
Courtney Brooks led the Longhorns with nine points. Cretsinger added six points and three assists. Brittany Brooks and Taylor Parsons collected 10 rebounds each to pace Johnson County.
Parlier collected a game high 14 for Unaka.
The girls will play in the District Tournament on Thursday at Unicoi County. They face Happy Valley at 6:30 in an elimination first-round game.

Tim’s Tomahawk Talk: Neutral site needed for tourney

By Tim Chambers

It’s been an up and down roller coaster ride for Johnson County basketball this season but both teams still have a lot to play for.
The District Tournament begins on February 15 at Unicoi County High School, the same location of the regional tournament.
I have hated this format from day one and my argument will always be the same.
The District Tournament should always be held at a neutral site where no team has an advantage. The first place team is awarded a bye and seeds determine the other six slots.
A neutral site would create a tournament type atmosphere where possible upset could occur. That’s not likely to happen if you draw the Blue Devils in the first round.
Let’s look at the advantages gained by Unicoi County.
The boys will likely enter the tournament as a No. 3 seed and the girls have pretty much locked down a No. 4 spot.
The boys will be pitted against the No. 6 team in the conference that likely will be Johnson County, Sullivan South or Sullivan North.
The Longhorns can avoid that scenario if they defeat Sullivan North on Tuesday. A win would have them playing Happy Valley in a first round game.
Upsets have always been a part of tournament play but it’s less likely to happen if you draw the Blue Devils.
The girls should enter as the No. 4 seed, but things could get interesting in the semifinals.
Sullivan East and Elizabethton appear to be the clear-cut favorite, but could Unicoi County possibly spring off an upset on their home court?
Sullivan South has suddenly turned it on as of late and will likely nail down the No. 5 spot. They can secure it with a win at Sullivan North on Friday.
Happy Valley is currently third but that could change as well. The Warriors will play at Elizabethton on Tuesday and host Unicoi County on Friday. A pair of losses would drop them into the No. 4 seed on the girls’ side.
Johnson County’s girls can sew up the six seed with a win over North on Tuesday. They could possibly face Unicoi County in an elimination game if the Lady Warriors should stumble.
Here’s the part I hate most.
The Blue Devils could possibly make the state tournament without ever leaving their home gym. If they win the regional, then the sub-state game would be played there too.
I wouldn’t count out Unicoi County regardless of where they are seeded. They’re right where they want to be.
In Erwin, home sweet home.
Tim Chambers is the sports editor at The Tomahawk. You can email him at

Lady Longhorns hold off Holston 53-50

Michala Cretsinger had a game high 20 points against Holston.

Courtney Brooks tossed in 11 points in JC win over Holston.

By Tim Chambers

DAMASCUS, VA — The short trip from Damascus, Virginia through Laurel Bloomery into Mountain City was a sweet one for Johnson County on Thursday. The Lady Longhorns rallied from a 31-24 halftime deficit and won 53-50 over neighboring Holston. They had defeated the Lady Cavs 63-48 in their previous meeting.
It was their 11th win of the season with seven coming against schools from Virginia. And unlike last time, this win would not come easy.
“We did what we needed to do in the second half,” said JCHS’ head coach Thomas Wampler. “It wasn’t our best performance, but we pulled out a good win over a rival school.”
Johnson County trailed 16-9 after one and it could have been a lot more had it not been for the play of Courtney Brooks. She scored all nine points including a trey and 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
It was almost the same type of event in the second quarter, only this time the leading cast was different. Michala Cretsinger tallied 10 points including two treys that allowed Johnson County to remain in the hunt.
They trailed 31-34 at the break, but all that would change during the third quarter.
A pair of baskets by Destiny Cole and one each from Taylor Parsons, Abby Cornett and Bella Miller would factor heavily in Johnson County outscoring the Lady Cavaliers 13-7. They trailed by a slim 38-37 margin going into the final quarter.
The game was nip and tuck in the final period with neither team able to pull away. Holston rode a well-balanced scoring attack from multiple players while the Horns hung their hats on Brittney Brooks and Cretsinger.
Brooks had five points in the period including a three. Kaitlin Nichols stepped up by hitting four key free throws in the frame. None was bigger than Cretsinger who ended the quarter with six points including a key trey that ended up being the game winner.
“They were a much better team at their place than when we played them the first time,” said Cretsinger. “This is a game that we never want to lose. We know some of them so you always want to do well against schools close to you. We didn’t play well but we still got the win.”
Cretsinger scored a game high 20 points to lead the Longhorns. Courtney Brooks added 11 points. Parsons had a big night collecting 11 rebounds. Brittney Brooks provided seven points and six boards.
Brianna Vannoy, Santanna Amburgey and Madison Garrett scored 10 points apiece for Holston.

Junior Varsity
Johnson County 42
Holston 10
Taylor Cox fired in 17 points and Adrian Hall added nine leading Johnson County to a sweep in the junior varsity contest. Natalie Winters finished the night with eight points as did Chloe Arnold.
Manuel had seven for Holston.

JCHS Longhorns clip Abingdon Falcons 61-50 on Monday

By Tim Chambers

ABINGDON, VA.— Johnson County was in need of a breakout game and they found it just across the state line in Abingdon. The Longhorns swished a dozen 3-pointers en route to their 61-50 win over the Falcons on Monday.

The Longhorns hit six in the final quarter, spoiling any hopes of a comeback by the Falcons.

“This is what we’ve been looking for,” said Johnson County’s head coach Austin Atwood. “We shot the ball very well and our scoring was balanced. This was a big step in the right direction going into our game with North on Tuesday. That’s a must win game for us.”

Johnson County set the tone in the first quarter by taking a 12-7 lead after one. Bud Icenhour and Sean Lewis each had a trey to compliment the four points tallied by Blake Atwood.
Icenhour, Atwood and Dawson Snyder would toss in three’s during the second quarter that were aided by a bucket from Nathan Arnold.

The Longhorns led 25-15 at the half only to watch Abingdon battle back to make it a game.

Ean Bassham led the charge, scoring six points in the third quarter, but he didn’t get enough help from his teammates.

Snyder made sure Johnson County’s lead stayed in sync by sinking a pair of trifectas. Icenhour added five points, including a trey in the final seconds helping the Horns maintain a 38-30 lead heading into the final frame.

The Falcons shot well in the fourth quarter, scoring 20 points. Thomas Francisco bagged a pair of treys and Bassham added one, but the Longhorns were one better.

Icenhour buried three consecutive ones and Atwood provide the other. Four free throws from Lewis and a pair of baskets by Jordan Edes were more than enough to get the win.

Icenhour led the Longhorns with 20 points while Atwood added 11 points and five rebounds. Snyder had nine points after shooting 3-4 from behind the arc. Lewis and Edes finished with eight points apiece. Arnold had five to close out the door scoring.

Francisco and Bassham each scored 11 points to lead Abingdon.

JCHS Longhorns take Three Rivers JV Tourney

Johnson County shows off its championship plaque after winning the Three Rivers Conference JV Tourney.

Johnson County shows off its championship plaque after winning the Three Rivers Conference JV Tourney.

By Tim Chambers

KINGSPORT—The boys’ basketball team needed a pick-me-up on Saturday and they got one by winning the Three Rivers Conference Junior Varsity basketball tournament. The Longhorns picked up two victories in “Bounty” like fashion, defeating Happy Valley 59-55 and Sullivan East 55-48.

Johnson Co. 55
Sullivan East 48
The Longhorns opened up the championship game in style by knocking down some big shots from the outside.  Dawson Snyder and Blake Atwood widened their one-point cushion after sinking treys.
Snyder finished with seven points while Atwood added five clutch ones.
The Longhorns led 14-7 after one.
Snyder continued to light it up in the second quarter, scoring nine more points. His two buckets and one by Arnold enabled the Horns to build a 31-20 advantage.

“Sullivan East and Happy Valley are really good teams,” said JV coach Trent Snyder. “Anytime they made a run our defense would step up and make a crucial stop or two during the game. I’m really happy with the win, but I’m really happy about the way we defended.”
Cory Chapman and Hunter Standbridge helped close the deficit early in the third quarter with a trio of baskets but theHorns were quick to respond.
Snyder drained a pair of treys and Atwood buried a three-bagger. The Horns led 46-36 heading into the final quarter.
The Pats’ would mount one final surge, but two buckets by Zack Eller prevented that from happening.
Snyder scored a game high 20 points for JCHS. Atwood finished with 18 and Eller accounted for 11.
Chapman had 10 points to lead the ‘Pats in scoring.
Johnson County 59
Happy Valley 55
This game was close the entire way with neither team able to pull away from one another.
The Horns had their inside-outside game working with Dawson Snyder and Troy Arnold leading the way. Snyder knocked down 13 points in the half including a three-ball from the corner. Arnold countered with 11 points, helping them build a 31-20 halftime deficit.
Happy Valley kept chipping away at the lead and got it down to five behind two baskets apiece from Isaiah Rhodes and Bryce Carter.
Carter finished with 20 points and 11 boards. Rhodes added 19 points and nine rebounds.
“We wanted to play in the championship but it wasn’t meant to be,” said Rhodes. “Johnson County is a very good team with lots of players who could score. Anytime we got close they would hit a shot or two. We never could get the lead.”
Rhodes was correct in his assessment. They did the same thing to East in the first game.
It all reverted back to the defense that Coach Snyder talked about earlier.
“I thought players like Gavin Reece, Gabe Reece and Lane Isaacs played well defensively,” added Snyder. “They didn’t score a lot of points but they sure did play well defensively. Snyder, Atwood, Arnold and Eller all played well. I thought that Phillips gave us some good minutes.”
Arnold led the Longhorns with 21 points. Snyder provided 18 and Lucas Phillips collected 10.
The team was award the first place plaque before departing home.

Blue Devils rally past JCHS Longhorns 58-50

By:  Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor

Johnson County’s first half play on Friday against Unicoi County was a thing of beauty. Their third quarter performance was like watching a new horror movie, “Nightmare on Fairground Hill.”
The Blue Devils erased a 25-19 halftime deficit by outscoring the Longhorns 21-6 in the third quarter to win 58-50 inside of a packed Ray Shoun Gymnasium. It was a costly loss for the Longhorns in many ways.
The Horns have dropped four straight league games, falling to 2-7 in league play and 9-13 overall. They find themselves needing a win at South on Friday or at home against North on Tuesday to avoid dropping out of the No. 5 seed in the District Tournament.
This loss was a hard pill to swallow for head coach Austin Atwood coming off Tuesday’s overtime loss to Happy Valley.
“They (Unicoi County) went in at halftime and decided they were going to get up into our guards and speed us up,” said Atwood. “They did that the first four minutes, then we take some poor shots, four or five that we’re not looking for. I felt like if we could have got back in our half court stuff and executed our offense, then we could have stayed in the game. We couldn’t have played a better first half.”
Those who watched the game would have to agree.
Their first quarter play was a thing of beauty.
Blake Atwood fired in a half dozen points as all five starters scored in the quarter. The Longhorns led 14-9 after one with all seven baskets coming from inside the paint in layup fashion.
They shot 7-of-11 from the field in the quarter and continued to shoot well in the second.
Baskets by Trevor Hensley and Troy Podvin pulled the Devils within one to start the second frame, but Johnson County responded. Atwood had a bucket and so did Austin Houser that kept them in front by four.
The Longhorns took their largest lead of the game at 25-17 on a pair of baskets in the paint by Jordan Edes.
But a costly turnover to end the half would shift all the momentum Unicoi’s way.
Johnson County had a chance to get off the final shot but turned the ball back over to Unicoi with five seconds remaining. Hensley took the basketball the length of the court and scored as time expired to get them within six at the break.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.Edes 21 UC.cmyk

Unicoi Blue Devils bury Lady Longhorns 71-38

By:  Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor

The lopsided losses continue to pile up for the Lady Longhorns. Unicoi County’s 71-38 win on Friday in Ray Shoun Gymnasium deflated thoughts of getting a victory over the Blue Devils after a close encounter in the previous meeting at the Devil’s Den.
Johnson County trailed 41-40 with a minute remaining in that contest. This time the game was over after the first quarter.
“Hats off to Unicoi,” said Johnson County’s head coach Thomas Wampler. “They hit everything they shot. It didn’t matter if we contested shots or had a hand in their face. They made them. Plus we failed to pick them up at times on defense. They just played a much better game this time than last.”
It didn’t help that Johnson County’s leading scorer, Michala Cretsinger, was trying to play with the flu and guard Destiny Cole didn’t suit up with the same symptoms.
Johnson County got six points from Courtney Brooks in the opening quarter and trailed by only five at 14-9 with 2.49 remaining. Cretsinger went to the bench and Unicoi closed the frame on a 9-0 run.
They Horns never recovered from the blow.
“When you play teams like Unicoi, and the other top three (Sullivan East, Elizabethton, Happy Valley) there is less margin for error,” added Wampler. “The mistakes and mental errors you make get magnified so much. Those teams are better equipped to take advantage of them.”
The Brooks twins (Brittney and Courtney) tried to keep Johnson County within striking distance during the second quarter, scoring five and four points respectively but to no avail.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.Parsons 22 UC.cmyk

Lady Horns’ frosh upend Bulldogs 46-41

By:  Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor

The cookie didn’t crumble this time for Johnson County. The freshman Lady Longhorns played well down the stretch and defeated Hampton 46-41 on Monday inside of VanHus-White Gymnasium.
Johnson County was almost in the same situation the last time they hooked up but lost their lead in the fourth quarter. This time it happened early in the game and they were able to overcome it.
The Longhorns got four points by Abby Cornett and a bucket apiece from Adrian Hall and Taylor Cox to build an 8-3 lead.
Hampton followed that up with a 9-2 run after the Horns had substituted in a new five.
The Dogs led 12-10 after one.
Hampton was able to increase their lead to six before Johnson County surged back to tie the game.
Hall converted a reverse lay-up followed by four straight points from Natalie Winters. The lead changed twice after the 16-16 tie with Hampton holding a slim 23-20 advantage.
The Lady Longhorns turned up the defense in the third quarter and held Hampton to only three points. Abby Cornett supplied the offense by hitting a pair of treys en route to eight points.
The Longhorns took a 30-26 lead heading into the final quarter.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.Winters Hamp.cmyk

JV and Freshmen Tidbits

By:  Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor

Many times the high school junior varsity and freshmen teams play without very little fan fare or press publicity.  Some players participate in junior varsity and varsity contest which makes for a long day.
Junior varsity players who play varsity know what it’s like to log long hours on a school day with very little to show for it. Today we tip our caps to you by offering up our first ever Junior Varsity and Freshman Tidbits.
Below is a sampler of all the JV and freshman games that Johnson County has played this week.

Girls Junior Varsity
Johnson County 48
Unicoi County 36
The Longhorns overcame a first quarter deficit to earn a 12-point decision.
Destiny Cole led the way with 14 points. Adrian Hall chipped in with 10.  Taylor Cox and Abby Cornett scored five points each. Taylor Parsons was credited with four blocked shots and six rebounds.
Kaylia StreLewis.cmyket topped the Lady Blue Devils with 11.

Johnson County 52
Happy Valley 31
Three Lady Longhorns reached double figures allowing the Longhorns to knock off Happy Valley 52-31.
Taylor Parsons paved the way with 14 points. Taylor Cox added 12 points and Adrian Hall tossed in 10. Natalie Winters had four points, three steals and four assists.
Shaylyn Whitson ‘s 11 points were tops for the Lady Blue Devils.

Johnson County 65
Happy Valley 34
Troy Arnold and Zack Eller scored 12 points apiece leading the Horns to a lop-sided victory over Happy Valley. Gavin Reece played well by scoring 10 points. Lucas Phillips had a solid game with nine.
Isaiah Rhodes led the Warriors with 10 points.

Johnson County 79
Unicoi County 62
The Longhorns blistered the nets for 33 fourth quarter points in their win over Unicoi County on Friday.
Lucas Phillips amassed the crowd by scoring 32 points. Troy Arnold added 19 points and 11 rebounds. Gavin Reece and Zac Eller provided 10 points each.

Freshman Boys
Hampton 59
Johnson County 41
The Bulldogs took the lead in the second quarter behind the play of Jordan Bentley and Colton Crumley and never looked back while knocking off the Longhorns.
Bentley scored a game high 22 points for Hampton. Crumley added 14 points and four steals. Matt Hughes muscle his way for 10.
Lucas Phillips and Michael Oxendine led the Longhorns with 12 and 10 points respectively. Will Henson just missed the double digit mark with eight points.