JCMS Lady Longhorns tame Mary Hughes Lions 16-6

By:  Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor

tomahawksportseditor@gmail.com

 

A steady rain over the first couple of innings couldn’t dampen the outcome of JCMS’ softball home opener on Friday. Mary Hughes jumped on top early only to watch the Lady Longhorns “storm” back and win 16-6 on Bob Kirksey Field.
Mary Hughes took advantage of three walks, a hit batter, three base hits and one error that allowed them to take a 5-0 lead in the first inning. Lady Longhorns’ skipper Greg Reece elected to bring in Deanna Younce to put out the fire and she extinguished it without any further damage. She allowed only one run from that point while her teammates supplied her with 10 runs over the first three frames.
“We could easily have called this game off with the forecast, and there was significant rain for the first two innings,” said Reece. “I got concerned when it started raining during the National Anthem. We had issues with the new ball and the wet field and that plus the error and walks got us down by five early. We didn’t play well at all to open the game.”
Like Stella, the young Horns found their groove from that point. Base hits by Faith Walsh, Younce, Jayla Gregg and Paige Knight helped produce three runs in the first inning’s bottom half.
They added three more in the second stanza and took the lead for good at 6-5.
Jenna Horner got things started with a base hit and later scored.  Emmy Miller and Walsh added RBI base hits and crossed home. Younce had a solid single that drove in the go-ahead run.
JCMS doubled their advantage at 10-5 by scoring a quartet of runs in the fourth.
The big blow was Miller’s three-bagger that produced another run. Maddie Edington added an RBI double. Horner, Knight and Younce drove in the other three runs with a trio of singles.
“We have some depth this year, and that showed,” added Reece. “Deanna came in and pitched great for us again, and Cassidy Lakatos had a good night too. Offensively everyone in the batting order had a base hit and some had two. But some things were disappointing, not showing discipline at the plate, not make the best decisions on the bases, not executing some of the simple things. That comes back on us, the coaches.”
Lakatos had a double and scored in the fourth and added a run scoring single in the fifth. Sydni Potter provided a run scoring single in the final inning that helped run-rule the visiting Lady Lions.

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

 

JCMS Lady Horns crush Golden Raider 16-6

By:  Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor

tomahawksportseditor@gmail.com

The middle school Lady Longhorns turned Sullivan North into the “Wild Wild West” on Monday afternoon in Bloomingdale. Johnson County “banged” out 24 hits that led to a 16-6 thumping of the Golden Raiders.
The Longhorns scored five runs during the first three innings but broke free for seven more in the fourth that blew open a close game. JCMS’ head coach Greg Reece touched on the win.
“We were able to pull away late and get a victory,” said Reece. “Our pitcher, Deanna Younce, was injured in the third inning and Hailey Rider came in and pitched well. We hit the ball great but we also had some mistakes on the bases. I made some mistakes too, but I told the girls  they played well and overcame my miscues.  When we  hit like this we can play with most anyone.”
Emma Miller’s triple and a RBI single by Younce set the tone for three runs in the first inning.
Faith Walsh doubled in the third and scored on Younce’s single. Paige Knight had a big RBI base hit that capped off the frame.
The Lady Longhorns stampeded their way to seven runs in the fourth inning that broke open a close 5-4 contest.
Maddie Edington, Miller and Cassidy Lakatos all had run scoring doubles. Walsh, Jayla Gregg and Jenna Horner slapped RBI singles.
The Longhorns tacked on four more runs in the seventh that extended their lead to 11. North scored a single run in the seventh but the damage had already been administered by the Lady Longhorns.

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

Here’s the dill pickle that will make some parents pucker

By:  Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor

tomahawksportseditor@gmail.com

 

Sports has been a part of my life for over 50 years since playing my first pee wee baseball game at age six. You can see a lot of crazy things when you’ve been around sports like I have for over five decades.
I never noticed very much going on as a player due to having a wonderful father and mother who refused to interfere. They sat too far off in the stand to cause any distractions.
They never complained about my playing time or that the coach needed to put me at a more favorable position.
My dad gave me one pointer that helped me not only as a player but as a coach and later on as a parent.
“The only thing that a coach is obligated to give you is an opportunity,” Dad would say. “The rest is totally up to you.”
He was correct on his assessment.
I learned that playing time was earned by my performances at practice as well as games. I also learned what it meant to give your all, to dig down deep and find that extra effort. It’s just as important to put out at practices as it is on game day. They all go hand in hand.
Thank God for the three great school ball coaches that I had and my role model parents.
Gary Smith was my elementary basketball coach. He was an assistant coach on the bench for the Lady Bulldogs during this year’s semifinal run at the state tournament. There is nobody that I have more respect for and I still call him coach today at age 58.
Doug Phillips and J.C. Campbell were my baseball and football coaches at Hampton High School. Phillips, a Johnson County native, was a mastermind on the diamond and the gridiron and Campbell’s win-loss record speaks for itself.
All three taught me how to become a man later in life in addition to becoming a good ball player. They also taught me to put the team before myself. Winners are made when you can do that.
So where did my parents fit in?
The answer is one that needs to be taught today.
Dad and Mom never believed in interfering. They trusted the coaches that I played for and not once did they ever approach any of them about playing time.
Dad attended all my home basketball and baseball games and took in some of my football games when work permitted. Mom saw me play on senior night in football and left after halftime. She feared me getting hurt.
But she didn’t make many of my baseball or basketball games either.
Her nights were spent washing clothes, ironing, cooking and cleaning. I always had a meal when I came home after games and not once did I ever lack clean clothes to wear.

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

Sullivan North Golden Raiders rally past Longhorns 5-4

By:  Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor

tomahawksportseditor@gmail.com

 

Johnson County suffered a costly defeat to the hands of North on Monday because the “Price was not right” for them in the seventh. Devan Price delivered a two-run double with his team trailing 4-3 that led to their 5-4 win on the Longhorns’ diamond.
The Golden Raiders led for most of the game and it all started in the first frame.
Gavin Rupe singled, then later scored on Price’s sac fly which put them up 1-0. Three singles and a costly error led to North scoring two more times in the fourth that extended their lead at 3-0.
The Longhorns finally dented the scoreboard and tied the game with three runs in the fifth.
Josh Tierney doubled to start the inning and Petie Pavusek reached on an error that plated one. Shane Greer’s two-run double tied the game at 3-3 but it was a hustle play that sparked the rally.

Gavin Reece took third base on a grounder to third which enabled Jayden Joiner to beat out an infield hit after the failed tag attempt on Reece.
It was a repeat of things in the sixth when Daniel Livorsi reached first base on a wild pitch after striking out. Pavusek put the Horns in front with a solid single up the gut that gave them a 4-3 advantage.
Their first lead of the game held firm until the seventh when North scored the decisive two runs.
The Longhorns had plenty of chances to score in the early going but left too many ducks on the pond. They left runners stranded at third base twice with less than two outs and two on with only one out in the early going.
Things started out well for the Longhorns in the seventh when Bud Icenhour was hit by a pitch but then came the dagger. Nick Whitener hit a laser that was snared by Christian Arnold at short who threw to first to complete the double play.

That was one of three defensive gems for North over the seven-inning contest.

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

JCHS Longhorns humble Hampton Bulldogs 7-1 in baseball

By:  Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor

tomahawksportseditor@gmail.com

Johnson County’s baseball coaching staff played Mr. Fix-It this week and it paid off on Friday versus Hampton. The Longhorns played well defensively behind the outstanding pitching performances of sophomores Jayden Joiner and Josh Tierney and knocked off Hampton 7-1 to earn their first win.

It was quite a turnaround from Monday’s performance where eight errors led to four unearned runs and a 5-2 loss. Head coach Pete Pavusek was happy with his team’s play and the stellar job done by his two sophomore pitchers.
“We did a much better job defensively today than we did against Sullivan East,” said Pavusek. “When you make the plays in the field you give yourself a chance to win. It also helped that our two pitchers threw strikes. Jayden Joiner and Josh Tierney were outstanding on the mound.

Pavusek hit the nail on the head when talking about his two young hurlers. Both worked quick in the rainy conditions and kept the Bulldog batters off balance.
Joiner allowed only three hits in four innings and a lone run. Tierney pitched no-hit baseball over the final three frames.
“I think they were cold,” laughed Pavusek about the two working quick. “We knew what we were getting with Jayden but we didn’t know with Tierney. He came in and it was lights out. It was really nice to see how he had progressed. Give Coach Jerry Whitener all the credit. He’s worked a lot of long hours with our pitchers and has brought several of them a long way.”

The Longhorns scored in the first inning when Nick Whitener walked, then went to third on a base hit by Shane Greer. He later scored on a wild pitch.
The Longhorns got a pair of runs in the second frame to go up 3-0.
Daniel Lavorsi legged out a double and Tierney followed with a single. Noah Conder picked up an RBI on a groundout, then Tierney crossed on a throwing error.

To read the rest of the article, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.

First organized football for kids in Johnson County

Thought to be the first organized football league in Johnson County for youngsters – some time in the early 1960’s. Below are the names of the players and coaches with one exception. Does anyone know the fellow in the back row (third from left)?

Front row kneeling L-R Managers Terry and Jerry Jordan.

Front row standing L-R Coach Charlie “Hill” Ward, Tom McNeil, John Jordan, Bobby Marshall, Mike Forrester –deceased, Larry Nave-deceased, Sonny Gambill, Bob Heck, Coach Bill Gambill-deceased.

Second row L-R Bill Wright, Steve Hawkins, Dickie Murphey, George Wright, Eugene Arnold, Eddie Cress.

Third row L-R Bill Hampton, David Atwood, Roger Dunn, Danny Ray Wilson, Billy Walker, Bud Osborne.

Fourth row L-R Phil Jordan, Pete Osborne, unidentified, Elmer Adams, Lynn Greever, Johnny Muse, Ricky Millsaps-deceased, Jimmy Murphey

Tennis on the rise at Johnson County High School in 2017

JCHS Tennis Players

By Tim Chambers

Tennis in 2017 at JCHS can be compared to gazing at the top of the Empire State Building. That’s because things are looking up for the Longhorns compared to last year.
They are currently practicing on their newly resurfaced courts plus the weather has been great for this time of year. The best part of all is they return nearly everyone from last year’s squad.
Head coach Eric Crabtree likes what he’s seen so far. The competition for the top seeds has been too close to call.
“We’ve been outside nearly every day because the weather has been great and the courts are excellent,” said Crabtree. “Our kids love it and you can tell a big difference in their play. It’s made for some good competition. We’re anxious to get started and begin playing matches.”
Monday’s match had to be put on hold due to Mother Nature’s late cold spurt. But when they return you can expect a strong showing especially on the girls’ side.
Ashytn Henson, Grace May and Cora Hayworth return and will play the top three slots. Cayleigh Blair Haley Cannon and Brittney Cox are back to fill their roles as the four, five and six seed players.
“Not much will change on the girls’ side from last year,” said Crabtree. “We’ve really got all of our kids back. We have two freshmen, Taylor and Olivia Cox that are going to make a very good doubles duo in the future. “Haley Lowe, Maddie Icehour, Adrianna Canter and Cassie Grayson have all really improved 10-fold over last year. We have some girls who play singles and some others who will specialize in doubles play. It’s a great thing to have, especially with so many seniors. I like the make-up of this year’s squad.”
The boys aren’t too shabby either. They too return several key components from last year’s team.
“We have nearly everyone back from last year,” said Crabtree. “Right now our top six seeds are up for grabs.”
Kris Artidiello and Mason Stanley are currently battling for the No. 1 slot after playing one and two last year. Ethan Carroll and Gavin Gutierrez are looking to lock down the three and four slots. Noah Cox could have a hold on the fifth or six spot with two newcomers ready to step up and challenge.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.

Henson to guide JCHS track team in 2017 season

JCHS Track Team

By Tim Chambers

A former Cyclone and Tornado standout will take over the track duties in 2017. Corey Henson is now the head coach and is currently trying to get a grip on his current 2017 squad.
Henson was a standout in track at Elizabethton and at neighboring King College for two seasons.
“I was very excited about the opportunity to coach these kids,” said Henson. “I would love to elevate the program to a better level and that’s one of our goals for the future.”
The team is currently trying to piece the puzzle and it could take a couple of meets to do so.
“It’s still too early to know who can excel at what,” added Henson. “We’ll be able to determine that after a couple of meets. We should be able to pretty much evaluate everyone after that.”
Henson knows he has a couple of reliable athletes on both the boys and girls teams.
Caleigh Blair is the team captain and has a good chance of placing in the 300-meter hurdles and the 400. Destiny Cole is very talented in the 100 and 200-meter runs. Freshman Taylor Cox has the makings to compete in the 400 and 800-meter runs.
“They all have run well at practice,” added Henson. “We want to see how that carries over into our meets.”
The same can be said for Brannon Dominguez, Ethan Woods and Dante Bolgonese on the boys’ side.
“Dante is a senior so we expect some good things from him,” added Henson. “There could be others, but it will take a couple of meets to determine that.”
Henson has a small group of seniors so this year could be a learning process.
“We have a lot of kids that have never run track,” added Henson. “They have played some other sports but are still trying to figure out where they can be their best in the events.”
The Longhorns are scheduled to participate in 10 meets in 2017.
“I would like for the sport to be more recognized,” said Henson. “I want kids to come out and be dedicated. It’s not as much the numbers as it is dedication and interest. We want people who are willing to work hard and be good at it. Like any other sport, we want to compete. We want to give our absolute best.”
The team will have their first meet on Saturday, March 18.

Johnson County Middle School softball looking good for season

Johnson County Middle School Softball Team

By Tim Chambers

Sometimes rebuilding can result in reloading when you lose the core group from your championship team from a year ago. The Longhorns won the league tournament last year, but several of those players are now a part of the high school team as incoming freshmen.
It doesn’t appear to have slowed down the middle school Lady Longhorns who are currently 2-0 in the young season.
Head coach Greg Reece begins his ninth year at the helm and appears to have everything in order.
His team defeated Colonial Heights 14-3 to open the season and Bluff City 5-3, both on the road.
He currently has 19 players on the roster with some younger players playing important roles. Four to five seventh graders will share the varsity load in addition to some talented eighth graders.
“We’re trying to work and find everyone’s skill level,” said Reece. “Some will play varsity and others on the JV. We have a good non-conference schedule that includes Mary Hughes, Vance, T. A. Dugger and Sullivan North in addition to Colonial Heights and Bluff City. We will also play in a tournament at Grandview on March 23-25 and we’re the defending champions. The JV plays on April 7-8 in one at Elizabethton High School. We definitely have a lot of good softball games scheduled.”
Pitching is not an issue for the Lady Longhorns.
Deanna Younce, Hailey Rider and Hailie Reece will all see action in that order.
The strong suit on the team will be the catching of Emmy Miller.
“She is exceptional behind the plate and calls all the pitches,” added Reece. She is also one of our better hitters that we depend on.”
Jayla Gregg and Rider will serve as her backups. 
Sydni Potter has the first base role with Faith Walsh getting the lock at second base. Maddi Edington will strengthen the infield at shortstop with Rider and Younce to play third, depending on which one is pitching.
The outfield will consist of Paige Knight, Jena Horner, Edington, Lakatos, Gregg, Kiyasha Clemmons and Hailie Reece.
Both Reece and Lakatos are two utility players that can help at various spots on the team. 
Other seventh graders are expected to be in the mix.
“We have a lot of kids that can play different places,” added Reece. “That is one of our strengths that we have this year.”
On Friday they defeated Bluff City in a nail-biter 5-3.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.

Young guns ready to lead JCMS baseball

JCMS Baseball Team

By Tim Chambers

Stability at the baseball coaching ranks has never been an issue for Johnson County Middle School. Head coach Julian Crews begins his 18th season at the helm with only two eighth graders and a ton of talented seventh graders.
“Most of our seventh graders have played together up through the Little League level,” said Crews. “We also have probably the top eighth grade player in the league. We only have two eighth graders on the varsity roster but I feel like we can compete. Our goal is to get better game to game and week to week. I can see these kids doing that.”
Leading the way is pitcher/shortstop Stacy Greer.
“He’s our captain and leader,” added Crews. “He has all the makings to be an outstanding high school player. I guess you could say he’s our key cog. He plays two prominent positions and hits in the middle of our lineup. Stacy leads by example. You couldn’t coach a better kid.”
Ethan Icenhour, Seth Conder and Zack Parsons will handle the catching duties. The trio will see duty on the mound in addition to Greer and Asa Lewis.
“We’ve got several kids that can play multiple positions,” said Crews. “We’ve have several kids that can pitch and you need that with the new pitch count rule.”
The 12 player roster will find Mason Bragg at second base with help from Conder and Nate Rice. Greer is slated to play shortstop when not pitching as is Conder. Parsons, Rice and Trey Snyder will all battle for the third base spot with Conder, Greer and Lewis all vying for time at first.
“It really depends on who’s pitching as to who plays where,” added Crews. “That’s why it’s so important to have kids that can play different spots. These kids care about winning and all of them want to be on the field. It’s a good thing to have as a coach.”
Preston Greer, Rice and Joshua Austin appear to have a solid hold on the three outfield slots. Isaac Roark and Dalton Brown are a two more talented players that makeup the “fountain of youth.”
“These kids are all coachable,” said Crews. I like their willingness to get better and their athleticism. We’re young but our goal is to compete this year. We defiantly will contend next season.”
Crews tabbed Hampton and University School as the two teams to beat in the conference.

JCHS Lady Longhorn softball team young but talented

JCHS Softball Team

By Tim Chambers

For the first time in nearly two decades the Lady Longhorns will have a new head softball coach. And if the players can duplicate her performance on the diamond then success will come in droves.
Angela Blevins was a four-year starter at IUP University where she collected 219 hits, 133 runs and played a school record 11 games in her career.
She was tabbed All-Conference in all four seasons and recently was inducted into IUP’s Sports Hall of Fame after being named a regional All-American for three seasons.
She is now faced with trying to raise the bar higher in a league that features perennial powerhouses Unicoi County and Elizabethton. Blevins knows her kids have to be on top of their game to compete in a conference filled with heavyweights.
“I like the makeup of our team because we’ve got several players who are very versatile,” said Blevins. “It’s making my decision hard trying to figure out what clicks for us. It’s a great position to be in because we have several kids who could become great players. Our lineup could change on any given day. Some could be used as utility players.”
A senior trio of three-year starters will look to lead the way.
Michala Cretsinger made the All-Conference team last year after batting .383 with speed to burn in the outfield. Marley Eggers will play right field alongside her and can hit the long ball which is something the Horns need.
Eden Fenner has the stronghold on second base and will bat at the top with Cretsinger and Eggers. She has a knack of being able to get on base from her leadoff spot.
“We will definitely look to all three of them for leadership,” added Blevins. “They’ve experienced beating Unicoi last year and they played some other teams close. They know what it takes to beat good teams. We’re hoping they help bring our younger players along.”
The battery combination of Courtney Brooks and Brittney Brooks will get the nod at pitcher and catcher. Maddie South has played well at third. First base is up for grabs with Hannah Brooks, Margaret Morrow and Courtney Brooks leading the charge.
“Who plays first base depends a lot on who is pitching,” added Blevins. “Hannah swings a great bat and never gets cheated. We might rotate her and Courtney on the mound, as an AH and at first. I think they all will contribute.”
Brittney Brooks started as a sophomore behind the plate but will be pushed by back-up catcher Lindsey Wills.
“I have confidence when Lindsey has to move back there,” said Blevins. “She has played very well in some recent scrimmages. That’s a spot where you need good backup players. Lindsey will get some playing time and freshman Natalie Winters can fill in too. I feel good about those three.”
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk on sale now.

JCHS Longhorn baseball team hoping the ride is smoother in 2017

JCHS Varsity Baseball Team

By Tim Chambers

Johnson County is hoping to level out the ride in 2017 after a roller coaster campaign last year that got rather bumpy at the end. The Longhorns pulled off a couple of big wins but also stubbed their toe a bit too.
Dropping two first round District games didn’t bode well for the Horns who could make a deeper run in 2017. Head coach Pete Pavusek returns for his 22nd season and he’s hoping that this might be the magical one, improving on last year’s 16-15 overall mark.
The Longhorns return one of the league’s top players in addition to a core of players that batted .300 or above last year.
Nick Whitener will lead the way.  The crafty senior hit over .400 and picked up six wins on the mound to lead the Horns in that department. The Horns have a chance of beating anyone when Whitener toes the rubber. He also bats left-handed and can play multiple positions which definitely has caught the eye of some college coaches.
Shane Greer will move over to centerfield after playing left last year. He hit .412 and was one of the team’s top batters in 2016.
The middle infield appears to be intact with Daniel Livorsi (3B), Bud Icenhour (2B) and shortstop Jayden Joiner returning.
“We feel pretty good about the kids we have back,” said Pavusek. “But we’ve got other kids that we feel good about too. I like our speed and the strength that several of our kids have. We’ve got a lot of arms that can throw and we’ve not had that luxury in the past. We’re excited about that because Coach Jerry Whitener has worked hard in the offseason with these kids and it’s showing. I can see a big difference so far in our preseason games.”
Pavusek praised the work of Josh Tierney and McClain Carleton for the way they’ve performed so far.
“Those two guys have stepped up and filled some vacancies where we needed someone,” said Pavusek. “Alex Calderon has played well and so has Gabe Reece. Gabe got a big hit that won us a game last night. I can see all those guys earning time. We’ve got a lot of competition at different positions. We got a lot of kids vying for playing time and a lot who deserve playing time.”
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk on sale now.

Top four JCHS basketball stories for 2016-17

By Tim Chambers

Trying to find the top four stories of the 2016-17 basketball season was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. It was nearly impossible, but there were a few special moments that make up our quartet.
Unfortunately there were no marquee wins by either team, although the girls did get three conference victories, their first in more than two years.
The girls’ side had no dominant teams after the departure of head coach Lynn Dugger and the Marosites twins at Elizabethton.
Happy Valley won the District, who was defeated soundly at home by Sullivan South, the same team that Johnson County knocked off at home.
Go figure.
Only one team out of the conference made it into the second round of the regional. Happy Valley was defeated soundly by Grainger County in the semifinals.
It was much different on the boys’ side.
Sullivan East is headed to the state tournament, a team that needed overtime to defeat Johnson County at home and trailed by one heading into the fourth quarter at East.
East and Elizabethton tied for the conference title while Unicoi finished in third, one game off the pace. Happy Valley had its best team in several years, making the league strong from top to bottom.

Milestone
Michala Cretsinger was able to reach the 1000-career-point club against Happy Valley. She needed 15 going into the game and scored that same number in the first half.
Unfortunately, no place like home this year (Most memorable games)
The curse must be lifted when it comes to overtime games inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium next season. Johnson County finished 0-4 when games went into the extra period in 2016-17.
Overtime losses to Sullivan East, Unicoi County and Happy Valley showed just how close the Longhorns were to being one of the elite teams in the league. They also lost a 64-60 contest to Hampton inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium.
But there is good news.
They return all five starters next season and eight of their top nine players.

Youth standouts
The Longhorns did have some shiny moments despite the lack of team success.
Sophomore Blake Atwood had a good year averaging 14 points per game and nearly five assists and three steals. He certainly is in the running for the most outstanding underclassmen award when the league announces that upon the elimination of Sullivan East.
Freshman Taylor Parsons also showed plenty of promise in the final games. During a two game stretch, she collected 37 rebounds and blocked six shots in varsity action.
Parsons has won several beauty pageants over the years but her play inside the paint has definitely been a thing of beauty.

Homerun hire
Having success in sports sometimes requires making tough decisions.  Johnson County elected to hire one of the best veteran coaches in East Tennessee when they chose Leon Tolley to be the head girl’s coach last week.
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.
That’s unchartered waters for the Lady Longhorns’ basketball program. But rest assured they chose the right captain to guide their ship.
There have been much better storybook endings in past years but this quartet of events tops the 2016-17 basketball season.

Junior Varsity Lady Longhorns show promise on play day

Courtney Brooks fires a pitch against Daniel Boone

By Tim Chambers

JOHNSON CITY—Johnson County’s junior varsity team braved the cold weather on Friday to play a couple of games while the varsity team took the field on Saturday to complete the six game marathon.
It was hard to determine a true winner as each game was marked by a one-hour time limit where play stopped immediately when the 60 minutes were up.
Head coach Angela Blevins witnessed every inning over the two-day event. Her varsity squad played Daniel Boone, Science Hill, David Crockett and Sullivan Central on Saturday. The junior varsity went up against Tazewell’s varsity and Volunteer on Friday.
“Everyone we played were quality teams, said Blevins. “We did some good things and we saw a lot we need to work on too. We didn’t use any set batting order due to it being a play day. We have 20 girls in our program and we got to see all of them play over the two-day event. I was very pleased with some of the younger players. Many played with more confidence as the games went on.”
The Lady Longhorns tackled Boone in the first game and had some good moments.
Courtney Brooks pitched well in addition to ripping a double down the left field line. Eden Fenner added a solid base hit.
The big blow came when Marley Eggers launched a solo home run over the left centerfield fence, her first one in high school play.
“We had runners on nearly every inning but couldn’t score them due to not getting key base hits,” added Blevins. “That’s part of being a young team. It’s also part of not having people hitting in the right spots. That will change once our season begins.”
They didn’t have to look far for offense in the second game versus Science Hill. A newcomer made sure that her presence was felt.
Hannah Brooks stroked a pair of home runs, one a two-run mammoth shot that pretty much supplied the offense. Michala Cretsinger added a couple of hits in addition to one each by Fenner and Eggers.
“I’m happy for Hannah because she works so hard,” said Blevins. “She never gets cheated in her swing. Michala struggled some today but had her best offensive game against them. We struggled as a team at the plate in run scoring situations. Those things will even out once we get everyone in the right places.”
The Longhorns finished with games against Crockett and Sullivan Central. Blevins praised the play of her catchers in those two.
Brittney Brooks caught the majority of the innings but got some help from backups Lindsey Wills and Natalie Winters.
“Wills played very well when given the opportunity,” said Blevins. “She threw out a runner and did a great job defensively. Natalie made two fantastic plays on bunts and throwing runners out. She is only a freshman but she knows the game.”
Blevins started freshman Abby Cornett in left field, Cretsinger in center and Eggers in right.
“We have a lot of speed out there,” said Blevins. “We misplayed one in the first game but I like the makeup out there. I want it to be tough to drop a ball in on us. Those three should keep getting better the more we can get outside and work on that part.”
The JV played well scoring several runs against Volunteer on Friday.
“I liked the pitching performance by Emily Garr,” added Blevins. Some of our kids stepped up and hit the ball well. We have some things we need to fine tune on the varsity squad. We need to take care of the routine plays before we make the spectacular ones. I felt like we matured and grew as the games went on. It was great getting to see all 20 girls take the field in the six games that we played.”

Johnson County Baseball/Softball Clinic for kids

The 2017 Johnson County Baseball/Softball Clinic will be held March 17 and 18. Rain dates are March 24 and 25.
There is a fee of $25 per child. Payment and completed application to Cliff Mahala at a Farmers State Bank (main office) or mail to Nicholas Perkins, 1527 Sandy Road, Mountain City, TN. Please make checks payable to Clinic – Nicholas Perkins.
Friday night is shop talk for players, parents and coaches at the Johnson County/Mountain City Community Center at 7 p.m. Special guests will be Brianna Snyder who is playing softball for Milligan College and Sam Thomas, Alice Lloyd College baseball player.
Saturday’s clinic will be a Cunningham Park with pitching, hitting, IF, OF, drills and fun. Children’s group clinic for ages 4-7 should arrive by 8:45 a.m. Ages 8-12 clinic will start at 12:30 p.m.
Lunch will be provided for all campers at 12:30.
If your child is participating in the morning clinic, please ensure that he/she eats breakfast prior to arrival. Appropriate baseball/softball attire (hat, glove, athletic pants, and bat if available) is encouraged. In addition, a hand/kitchen towel for drills.

Tim’s Tomahawk Talk – Longhorn fans should be happy for Dyer

By Tim Chambers

It’s always amazed me that Jesus spent 33 years on this earth and did so many miraculous things while here. My Christian walk and faith makes me appreciate the things he did that I so take for granted every day.
John Dyer is the head basketball coach at Sullivan East. He was the former head coach here at Johnson County High School.
He has been doing this basketball thing for 33 years. He’s accomplished a great deal but none larger than last night.
That says a lot of Dyer who picked up career win number 500 back in December. But one thing has always eluded him until last night.
His Sullivan East Patriots finally won a sub-state game, giving Dyer his first trip ever as a coach to the state tournament.
Dyer’s teams have captured conference, district and regional titles over the course of his long career. But a state tournament berth was still on the shelf, covered with dust.
That was until Monday.
His Patriots topped Christian Academy of Knoxville 73-50 before a near capacity crowd inside the Dyer Dome. This was a team that recently defeated Knox Fulton but needed overtime to knock off our Longhorns.
And in spite of his biggest win, coach kept it humble.
He said the win against CAK was for the school, community, and former Patriot players who came back into the locker room to offer their congratulations.
He got 19 points each from sophomore Dustin Bartley and senior Cole Green. Gavin Grubb added 17 and Aaron Frye tallied 10. Yet Dyer made it a point to praise everyone on his squad.
Just like he did Johnson County’s team in their overtime victory inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium back in February. He praised his team but made sure to praise Coach Austin Atwood and all his kids for their gutsy play. That’s the way Dyer rolls and he’s sincere.
And don’t think for one minute that Atwood wasn’t a Patriot fan against CAK.
Several area coaches were in the stands cheering for Dyer on Monday.
His Christian values and the things he teaches are well known by his coaching colleagues.
Jesus made history for the miraculous miracles he did during his 33 years on earth as a man. That same man is now my personal savior.
The Bible tells us to be Christ-like and Dyer is, both on and off the court.
He too performed a miracle on Monday.
Sullivan East is going to the state tournament for the first time in the school’s 50-year history.
And Johnson County fans should be happy for him.
Tim Chambers is the sports editor for The Tomahawk. He can be reached by email at tomahawksportseditor@gmail.com

Johnson County Middle School tops Colonial Heights

By Tim Chambers

KINGSPORT—The hitting birches fit just fine for JCMS on Tuesday. Head coach Greg Reece watched his Lady Longhorns triumph over Colonial Heights 14-3 in their season opener played in Kingsport.
It was quite an offensive performance but the first five batters in the starting lineup. They combined for 15 hits, scored 13 runs and drove in eight on the day.
The head coach was happy with everyone’s overall play.
“That was a good way to start the regular season,” said Reece.  “Over the weekend we did not play very well, mostly not following through and do the things that good teams must do. I think the team just decided that they were unhappy with the way things went and were determined to do better tonight, and boy they did. We hit very well at times, although there are some spots in the lineup that have not yet done much, but it is very early. Hitting usually is not the issue for us because that is pretty much all we can work on given the practice situation. The on-field routines will come around eventually.”
The Longhorns scored nine runs over the first two innings to break the game open.
Edington, Miller, Faith Wash and Younce had base hits and scored in frame one. The big blow was a towering home run by Jayla Greg, well over the outfield fence.
That same group combined for base hits to help score four more runs in the second inning.
Miller and Younce had doubles in the third along with a base hit by Cassidy Lakatos that produced a couple more runs.
Sydni Potter added an RBI double in the fifth that came after base hits from Edington, Miller, Younce and Greg.
Younce pitched all five innings to earn the victory. She scattered seven hits with six strikeouts.
She helped her cause by going 4-4 at the plate with three RBIs. Miller was 4-4 with four runs scored. Greg produced four hits, three RBIs and two runs scored. Edington and Wash had two hits apiece and scored twice. Potter, Lakatos, Paige Knight and Haley Rider added one hit each.
Coach Reece complimented the hitting but also touched on some important contributions in other areas.
“The top half of the order really produced tonight offensively, but there were some key defensive plays too,” added Reece. “Edington made one heck of a play on a fly ball with the bases loaded to get a double play and hold the runner at third. Younce pitched well and had her curve ball working. She never got rattled, even with runners on. Miller had two good tags at home to end an inning. Overall I am pleased but we still have lots of work to do before we get into conference play next week.”

Johnson County Middle School Longhorns open season with two wins

Seth Conder tossed a 4-hitter in JC’s 7-2 win over Sullivan.

By Tim Chambers

A fountain of youth has been discovered in Johnson County and it’s much to the liking of middle school baseball coach Julian Crews. His Longhorns opened the season with a pair of big wins over the weekend despite having only two eighth graders on the varsity roster.
They knocked off Westview 12-2 in their season opener then added a 7-2 win over Sullivan Middle School on Friday.

Johnson County 12
Westview 2
Johnson County got their first win on Thursday with a five-run third inning leading the way. They also got a stellar pitching performance by Ethan Icenhour who tossed a no-hitter facing 19 batters.
Icenhour struck out 11 before giving way to Seth Conder in the final frame. He fanned two of the three hitters he faced.
The Horns took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI single from Stacy Greer that scored Asa Lewis who had walked.
The game remained that way until the third inning when four base hits by the Longhorns produced five runs to put them up 6-0.
Greer got things started with a single, then scored on a double by Conder. Mason Bragg followed with a run scoring base hit, but the big blow came two batters later.
Nathan Rice broke the game open by smacking a two-run double that put Johnson County up by a half dozen.
The hit parade continued during the fourth inning when the Longhorns strung together four more that manufactured three scores.
Greer, Icenhour, Condor and Preston Greer all had hits that enabled them to up their advantage at 9-0.
Their final two scores came by the way of walks and errors.
Stacy Greer led the hitting going 3-3. Icenhour added a 2-2 performance. Lewis and Condor when 2-3 apiece and Rice had a 2-5 day. Preston Greer and Bragg provided the other two hits.

Johnson County 7
Sullivan Middle 2
A five-run second inning on Friday was all the Horns needed to win their second straight game in consecutive days.
They scored an unearned run in the first to go up 1-0 but put together a mammoth second frame capped off by five hits.
Mason Bragg and Nathan Rice got things started with singles. Stacy Greer plated the second run with an RBI base hit before the big blows came.
Ethan Icenhour drove in two runs with a single, then Zack Parsons duplicated the feat by driving in two more with a base hit to make the score 6-0.
Sullivan scored two runs in the bottom half but couldn’t muster any more.
Conder doubled and scored in the fourth.
Bragg topped the Longhorns going 2-3. Greer, Icenhour, Rice, Condor and Parsons provided one apiece.
Condor picked up the win on the mound for Johnson County. He allowed only four hits and struck out five.
Crews was proud of his team’s play over the two-day haul.
“It’s always good to start the season off with two wins,” said Crews. “We’ve got a very young team made up of mostly seventh graders. I thought we played well in the field but was very pleased with how we hit the ball. We’ve got lots of things to work on but getting two wins was a big confidence booster for our young squad.”

Tim’s Tomahawk Talk – District 1 girls’ teams exit early from play

By Tim Chambers

And then there were none.
It didn’t take long for the District 1 girl’s team to fall by the wayside in regional tournament play. League champion Sullivan East went down in the first round at home to Chuckey-Doak. Elizabethton and Unicoi went the same route with all three losing rather handily.
Happy Valley shot the lights out in their first round win over Cumberland Gap but found the going tough against Grainger County.
The second seed from District 2 prevailed 70-36 on Monday in the semifinals, eliminating the Warriors, the last team standing from District 1.
It’s sort of a shocker not to see a District 1 team reach the final or the state tournament. Elizabethton finished the year 13-16 ending their dominance over the past decade.
East won the league despite losing some key players off last year’s team but had their hopes crushed in a first round region loss at home. Grainger County, Greeneville and Chuckey-Doak made District 2 the much tougher District this year.
So what is the outlook for girls’ basketball next season in District 1?
East loses some key players off the league championship team that could open the door for several other squads.
Unicoi and Elizabethton have a good crop of players returning as does Sullivan South. But can they compete with the teams from District 2?
Happy Valley appears to be the preseason favorite on paper.
They return starters Kaitlyn Roberts, Adrianne Henegar, Bailey McGee and Tianna Long and freshman standout Sha Whitson. The Warriors also have a pair of outstanding incoming freshmen that they can add to the mix.
Johnson County will be in a major rebuilding stage and it might take a couple of years before fans can see dividends. Only time will tell.
It might take some time to reach the current status of Grainger County, Greeneville and Chuckey-Doak ladies basketball.
They now wear the label of “queens” of the court in Region 1.

Spring Sports
Baseball skipper Pete Pavusek and head softball coach Angela Blevins are currently trying to mold their teams into shape for the home opener.
The Lady Longhorns will take the field next weekend for some scrimmage games at Wing Deer Park. The junior varsity will play on Friday and the varsity will see action on Saturday.
The conference jamboree will be held at Elizabethton on March 7. They end the preseason with a pair of games at Cherokee on March 11 before kicking off the season on March 13.
The Lady Longhorns currently have 20 players participating in the softball program.

Tolley tabbed as JCHS’ new head girls’ basketball coach

By Tim Chambers
SPORTS EDITOR
tomahawksportseditor@gmail.com
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.”