By Tim Chambers
It’s only fitting to describe Johnson County’s first-half performance versus Cloudland with an old George Jones song. They were hotter than a two-dollar pistol and the fastest thing around.
The Longhorns shot a sizzling 50 percent from the floor for the game and sprinted to 48 first-half points that led to their 80-55 blowout win inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium.
The Horn played well in Saturday’s win over Daniel Boone and continued the trend on Tuesday against the Landers.
Head coach Austin Atwood touched on his team’s play and their fast start that offset some pretty good shooting by the Landers.
“I actually thought we defended pretty well, but Cloudland couldn’t miss early,” said Atwood. “They scored 17 points in the first five minutes, but we told our kids to stay after it. We finally started attacking things in the middle and got some inside-outside passes that gave up some good looks from behind the three-point line. We were able to knock down shots and we’re pretty when we shoot well. I thought a lot of our kids stepped up and played some good minutes.”
Atwood hit the nail on the head because the Landers made 5-of-7 shots from the floor to start the game. They sprinted to a 10-2 lead and were up 15-6 on Malachi Benfield’s baskets at the four-minute mark.
Johnson County began to whittle away after Robert Leeper’s basket gave Cloudland a 17-8 cushion.
Blake Atwood turned a steal into a layup, followed by a three-point play from Jordan Edes-King.
Troy Arnold gave the Longhorns their first lead at 19-17 by scoring in the paint with 50 seconds remaining. Bud Icenhour’s three-ball with 19 seconds showing allowed Johnson County to extend their lead at 22-17 after one.
That margin would grow to a baker’s dozen by intermission.
Icenhour and Atwood did most of the damage by shooting the lights out during the eight-minute stretch.
Atwood tallied 10 points including 8-of-8 from the foul line. Icenhour, who was celebrating his 18th birthday, did one better by hitting three treys and a deuce for 11 points. He was honored before the game for scoring his 1,000th point during the Hall of Fame game last week.
Gavin Reece put the Horns up 48-28 with a late three-ball, but Cloudland closed the half on a 7-0 run.
They still trailed 48-35 at the half.
“We didn’t close the first half out the way we needed to, but we played pretty good other than that,” said Icenhour. “We’ve been putting extra work in after practice and that’s been a big plus. We can be a good team when we shoot well and defend. I thought we did those things pretty well tonight.”
Johnson County doubled up on Cloudland in the third quarter by outscoring the visitors 16-8. Sean Lewis, Edes-King and Atwood had a deuce each in the final two minutes and Icenhour bagged another three.
They led 64-43 heading into the final quarter.
Johnson County continued its torrid shooting and built the lead to 30 on a long three by Lucas Phillips.
Atwood and Icenhour led the way, scoring 25 and 21 points respectively. Edes-King added 11 points and five rebounds. Lewis dished out a game high seven assists and scored six points.
Coffey had 14 points and Leeper added 12 to pace Cloudland.
Johnson County 80, Cloudland 55
Coffey 14, Leeper 12, J. Blair 5, H. Blair 4, Perrigory 4, Johnson 3, Boone 2, Shell 2, Gilbert 3, Benfield 3, Birchfield 3
JOHNSON COUNTY (80)
Atwood 25, Icenhour 21, Edes-King 11, Lewis 6, Reece 6, T. Arnold 4, Phillips 3, Isaacs 3, Cunningham 1, N. Arnold 0, Eller 0, N. Winters 0, Rash 0
Cloudland 17 18 8 12 — 55
Johnson Co. 22 26 16 16 — 80
3-point goals—Cloud 7 (Coffey 3, Johnson, J. Blair, Benfield, Birchfield) JC 9 (Icenhour 5, Reece 2, Phillips, Isaacs)