By Tim Chambers
AFTON—Like a bottle of Coke, Johnson County was the real thing in their semifinal game of the District Middle School Tournament and will now play Hampton in the championship on Tuesday. The Junior High Longhorns earned a refreshing 39-36 win over Happy Valley at Chuckey-Doak Middle School on Monday in a game that wasn’t decided until the final seconds.
The Longhorns were holding a one-point advantage but had missed on their last couple of trips at the charity stripe. That’s when “Lady Luck” looked down on them.
Preston Greer got the ball on the wing and swished a trey with six seconds remaining. A last second shot by the Warriors was well off the mark allowing the Longhorns to escape with the victory.
Head coach Devin Shaw was all smiles after watching his team prevail despite three key players out with injuries and sickness.
“We knew it would be hard with all those guys missing, but our kids did a great job of stepping up and not quitting,” said Shaw. “It was hard trying to overcome that plus Corie (Neely) and Nate (Rice) fouled out in the fourth quarter. We had a little trouble hanging on at the end, but I thought our pressure gave them some problems.”
Shaw smiled when asked about Greer’s shot.
“I wanted him to hold the ball and let the clock run,” added Shaw. “He was open and hit a big shot. I felt like that was the type of play that showed we didn’t quit. We kept playing till the final horn. We played to win and not to lose.”
The trio of Greer, Neely and Zack Parsons sparked Johnson County to a 15-13 lead after one. Parsons scored six points including a trey. Neely and Greer tallied four apiece.
They opened the second quarter on a 6-0 run with a steal and a layup by Parsons and four points from Neely. Landon Babb kept Happy Valley close with a pair of baskets but they trailed Johnson County 24-21 at the half.
The Longhorns extended their lead in the third quarter using baskets by Gavin Ward, Greer and Parsons to go up 33-27 heading into the final quarter.
Greer’s jumper with 3:41 remaining kept the lead at six but the Warriors made a final run.
Babb’s basket and another one from James Murray got them within one at 37-36 with 36 seconds remaining.
The Longhorns came away empty on two trips to the foul line before Greer hit his big shot.
Greer finished the game with 13 points and three steals. Neely provided 12 points, seven rebounds and five steals before fouling out. Parsons had a double-double with 11 points and a game high 13 rebounds. Ward and Rice collected five rebounds each. Dalton Brown and a pair of steals in the final quarter that helped seal the win.
Babb and Andrew Little scored seven points apiece for the Warriors.
Game time for Tuesday’s championship game is set for 7:30, weather permitting.
Happy Valley 29
Johnson County 19
The Lady Longhorns appeared ready to pull off a possible upset in their game by jumping on top 9-4 after one.
Savannah McKinney’s bucket put the Longhorns on the board and Jamie Eshelman added two jumpers that put them ahead 6-4.
Macey Luckett’s three in the final seconds put the Lady Horns in front 9-4 after one.
Both teams went scoreless for nearly four minutes in the second quarter but Happy Valley caught fire late in the frame. They closed the quarter on a 12-0 run and led 16-9 at the half.
Their offensive woes continued in the third quarter. The Longhorns scored only three points and trailed 23-12 going into the final quarter.
Johnson County made a late run getting two baskets by Sydni Potter and one each from McKinney and Luckett but couldn’t stop the Lady Warriors’ big gun.
Autumn Henegar scored a game high 15 points with all of them coming in the final three quarters.
Luckett topped the Longhorns with seven points. McKinney, Potter and Eshelman all tallied four apiece. Gracie Grayson led the rebounding with seven.
The Lady Longhorns were to play for third place on Tuesday at 4 pm.
JCMS 39, HV 36
Johnson Co. (39)
Greer 13, Neely 12, Parsons 11, Ward 2, Rice 1, Brown 0
Happy Valley (36)
Babb 7, Little 7, Stephens 5, Williams 4, Murray 5, Workman 3, Gorman 1, Ellis 4
JCMS 15 9 9 6 — 39
H.V. 13 8 6 9 — 36
3-point goals—JC 1 (Parsons 1) HV 1 (Little 1)
Happy Valley 29, JCMS 19
Luckett 7, McKinney 4, Potter 4, Eshelman 4, Grayson 0
HAPPY VALLEY (29)
Henegar 15, Hall 7, Keller 4, Bailey 3
JCMS 9 0 3 7 — 19
H.V. 4 12 5 8 —- 29
3-point goals—JC 1 (Luckett 1) HV 1 (Henegar 1)