Tomahawk Talk

Uncharted waters for Lady Longhorns

Mother Nature has put a damper on basketball games being played this week as all have been moved or canceled. The middle school Longhorns will not be playing any games until school is back in session.
The high school canceled Monday and Tuesday’s games but both will be made up including Cloudland after Christmas.
The Longhorns will travel to Mitchell County on Thursday to play Tuesday’s canceled contest. The boys will play at Abingdon on Monday while they and the girls will be at home on Tuesday to battle Hampton.
Their game with the Bulldogs will be the last one in 2018. They return to the court on January 4 to play Sullivan Central in an all-important Three Rivers Conference matchup.

Junior High Longhorns fall to Hampton
The Middle School Longhorns took it on the chin to Hampton over the week. The boys fell 48-40 while the girls were defeated 38-22.
The Bulldogs jumped on top 17-12 after one and led 30-24 at the half. Peyton Pavusek’s eight points kept them in the hunt but a strong third quarter by Hampton would do them in.
The Bulldogs outscored the Horns 13-7 and led 43-31 going into the final frame.
The Longhorns got within six with three minutes to play, but the Dogs were able to hold them off at the end.
Nick Speed led the Longhorns with 11 points. Pavusek added 10 points, and Christian Lipford contributed eight.
Austin Bentley scored a game-high 15 points for the Bulldogs. Dylan Trivett and Brody Hicks recorded seven points each. Hayden Campbell and Caden Buckles had six apiece.
The Lady Bulldogs turned up the defense that led their third 16 point victory over the Longhorns.
Brookanna scored half of Johnson County’s point total with 11.
Chloe Watson led the Bulldogs with 10 points while Shanie Pierce tossed in nine. Kenzie Ramsey finished with eight while Bre Davis contributed six.

Unchartered Territory
For the first time in more than two decades, the Lady Longhorns are currently at the top in the Mountain Lakes Conference standings.
They are tied with Sullivan Central at 2-0 with wins over third place Unicoi County and fourth place Elizabethton.
The boys are tied for third with a 1-1 league mark trailing Elizabethton and Sullivan Central who are both 2-0.
The teams will resume conference play on January 7 hosting first-place Central.
The Lady Cougars and the boys squads are both unbeaten, and a capacity crowd can be expected inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium.

Three Rivers
Conference Standings

Boys Con. Overall
Team W L W L
Elizabethton 2 0 7 1
Sul. Central 2 0 4 6
Johnson Co. 1 1 8 4
Sul. South 1 1 8 3
Unicoi Co. 1 2 3 6
Sul. East 0 1 7 3
Happy Valley 0 2 2 6

Girls Con. Overall
Team W L W L
Johnson Co. 2 0 6 4
Sul. Central 2 0 7 3
Unicoi Co. 2 1 6 4
Elizabethton 1 1 2 5
Sul. East 0 1 4 5
Sul. South 0 2 6 5
Happy Valley 0 2 3 4

Longhorn trio to play in All-Star game

By Tim Chambers

Three Johnson County Longhorns have been selected to play in the 10th annual FCA All-Star game to be held on December 15
at Emory & Henry University.
The game once featured players from Tennessee going up against players from Virginia, but that format has since been changed. It has now become East versus West with Interstate 81 serving as the geographical boundary line.
Johnson County’s Nathan Lane, Tyler Norris, and Christian Krupsky will be part of the East squad that will feature players on the Virginia side coached by Michael Crist of Virginia High.
Players from Abingdon, Castlewood, Eastside, George Wythe, Holston, Honaker, John Battle, Marion, Patrick Henry, Richlands, Sullivan East, Tennessee High, Unaka, Unicoi County, Tennessee High and state runner-up Chilhowie will join the Longhorn trio in this year’s game.
Elizabethton’s Shawn Witten will coach the west squad. Their roster will be comprised of players from Daniel Boone, David Crockett, Dobyns-Bennett, Elizabethton, Gate City, Happy Valley, Lee, Ridgeview, Rye Cove, Science Hill, South Greene, Sullivan North, Sullivan South, Thomas Walker, Twin Springs, Union, West Greene, and Wise-Central.
Kickoff for the contest will be at 1:00 pm on Saturday.
The teams will be treated to a banquet in Abingdon to be held on Thursday, December 13 at the Higher Education Center at 6 pm.
Below is a complete roster of each squad.

Horns hammer Blue Devils

JC’s Michael Oxentine (21) scores and is fouled by UC’s Danny Lowery (34). Oxentine scored 9 points in their 68-47 win. Photo by Tim Chambers

Johnson County 68, Unicoi County 47

By Tim Chambers

Sports editor

ERWIN—Blake Atwood’s 30-point performance turned some heads inside of Unicoi County’s gymnasium on Friday. So much that left Blue Devil fans with strained necks and others still shaking their heads after a 68-47 win by the Longhorns.
It was a key conference road victory for Johnson County now (1-1, 7-4) on the season. Head coach Austin Atwood was pleased with his most of his team’s performance.
“We played well for the most part, but we did have a few bad stretches,” said Coach Atwood. “We had 16 assists, and I was pleased with that, but we also had 12 turnovers which are too many. We finished the game well, and I liked the way we shared the basketball. Any win is good, but a road win is great. I told our kids that this was a must win for us after losing to Elizabethton at home last week.”
Longhorns score the game’s first 14 points
The Longhorns came out smoking hot, looking to make an early statement. They did so by going up 14-0.
Atwood and Lucas Phillips had a pair of treys apiece while Zach Eller added a deuce and a couple of steals that led to five points. Brock Thompson hit a long trey to get Unicoi County on the board after a six-minute drought.
The Longhorns led 20-6 after one and continued to pour it on behind the red-hot shooting of Atwood.
He lit up the Blue Devils for 14 second-quarter points that including a trio of treys. The senior all-state candidate had 23 points at the half helping Johnson County to a 40-21 halftime advantage.
He said it was all about taking control of the game early.
“We got in them defensively at the start and didn’t let them score,” said the younger Atwood. “We kept running our transition and didn’t let them get back in their zone. That helped us to stretch out lead plus we were able to knock down some shots. We didn’t want to slow it down, but we did try and take good shots. This was a win we had to have. We don’t want to lose another one as we did against Elizabethton.”
Slow third quarter start but a strong finish
The Longhorns hit a lull to start the third quarter that allowed Unicoi County to go on a 7-0 win and slice into the deficit but that would be short-lived.
Baskets by Eller and Oxentine put a stop to that then Troy Arnold fed Oxentine and Phillips with a pair of assists that enabled them to score and push the lead back to 14 at 56-42.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Horns who
decided to turn up the
defensive pressure. Eller converted one of his six
steals into a three-point play while Atwood was knocking down a boatload of free throws.
Arnold’s basket increased the lead to 61-43 with 3:45 remaining that allowed the Longhorns to empty their bench.
We’re a smaller group this year, so it’s important that we play with a lot of heart and hustle,” said Arnold. “We were working extra hard to front their post while trying to be physical. We don’t let the fact that we’re undersized bother us. We know we have to hustle and play our tails off to win.”

Longhorn leaders
Atwood provided five rebounds, four assists and two steals in addition to his
30 points. Eller stepped up big with 10 points, six steals. Oxentine provided nine points while Phillips
recorded eight. Arnold led the team in rebounding with eight.
Thompson was the lone Blue Devil in double figures with 24.
The Longhorns were scheduled to play at Cloudland on Monday and Mitchell County on Tuesday, but the snow was expected to cancel both games.
In that event, they will travel to Mitchell County on Thursday and to Cloudland on Saturday.

Johnson Co. 20 20 10 18 –68
Unicoi Co. 6 15 11 15 –47

3-point goals—JC 6 (Atwood 4, Phillips 2) UC 2 (Thompson 2)

Atwood 30, Eller 10,
Oxentine 9, Phillips 8, Arnold 4, Cunningham 6, Cross 3.

Thompson 24, Casey 3, Lingerfelt 3, Lowery 4, O’Dell 3, Thelen 4, Holt 2, Lynch 3

Historic Horns take down Unicoi

JC’s Taylor Cox takes it to the hoop versus UC. Cox had 15 points in their 56-44 historic win. Photos by Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers

Sports editor

ERWIN—History was in the making at Erwin on Friday, and the Lady Longhorns weren’t about to let it slip away. Johnson County took control of their game with Unicoi County in the second quarter and came away with a 56-44 win.
It was the first victory ever by a Lady Longhorns’ squad inside the Lady Devils’ current gymnasium. Head coach Leon Tolley touched on his team’s success and their ability to take care of the basketball.
“We told our kids that when we got the 10 point lead that we were still going to try and score but play smart with the lead,” said Tolley. “We took a couple of questionable shots early and made them, but then we missed a few in the second half. They begin to chase us, and we told the kids not to shoot nothing but a layup or foul shot. They did a good job down of sticking to our game plan.”

Lady Longhorns
dominate the second quarter
The Lady Horns fell behind early, but a basket by Taylor Cox and a three-point play from Sadie Stout allowed them to pull even at 7-7.
Taylor Parsons gave the Horns their first lead at 9-7, but a three-ball from Chloe Hendrickson gave the Devils a 10-9 lead after one.
The Longhorns were able to move back in front early in the second quarter behind two free throws from Abby Cornett and a nice drive and layin from Cox. Emmy Miller stretched the lead to six with four free throws to give them a 21-16 advantage.
The Horns closed the quarter on a surge getting a three-point basket each by Parsons and Cox.
They led 29-20 at the half.
“We’ve been so close before but couldn’t come away with a win,” said Parsons. “We weren’t about to let this one get away. We want teams to respect us because we’re tired of all the losses in previous years. We feel like we’ve got a “
good team too.”

Longhorns bend but
don’t break
Four points each by Parsons and Cox kept the lead at 10 for most of the third quarter. The Blue Devils got within six, but a nice drive and layup by Natalie Winters built their advantage back to eight.
The Longhorns
held a nine-point lead going into the final quarter when the Lady Blue Devils would mount a desperation comeback. They got within five at 46-41 on a deuce from
Allee Griffith, but the Horns would quickly counter.
Winters stayed hot at the charity stripe canning four tosses while Parsons added three more and a little floater to extend it back to a dozen.
As the seconds counted down, the Lady Longhorns celebrated their first road victory ever over the Lady Blue Devils.

Lady Longhorn Leaders
Parsons had a huge night with 15 points and seven rebounds. Cox also added 15 points and five boards. Winters collected eight points including 4-of-4 from the foul line and dished out four assists. Stout provided seven points and six rebounds. Miller tossed in six points
and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds. The Horns also got some good play
off the bench from Cornett and Hazlee Kleine. Cornett tallied four points while Kleine produced four key rebounds.
Tolley pointed to some prior games that got
them ready for their historic win.
“We didn’t play well in our loss at Unaka, and Gate City roughed us up a bit but got us ready for this. I’m proud of the girls because we played straight man defense the entire way and that is the first time we’ve done that. Tonight we were the aggressor. I’m really proud of how well they played.”

Johnson Co. 9 20 13 14 –56
Unicoi Co. 10 10 13 11 –44

3-point goals—JC 1 (Cox) UC 2 (Hendrickson, Ca. Powers)

Parsons 15, Cox 15, Winters 8, Stout 7, Miller 6, Cornett 4, Kleine 1

Hendrickson 12, Ch. Powers 10, Vance 8, Griffith 8, Ca. Powers 4, Street 2.

Longhorns derail Highlanders

JC’s Michael Oxentine (21) converts a basket over Cloudland’s Josh Blair (55). Oxentine had 10 points in their 78-46 win. Photo by Tameula Trivett

By Tim Chambers

Three strong quarters of offense at its finest and a second-half defensive clinic from Johnson County spelled doom for visiting Cloudland on Tuesday night inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium. The Longhorns scored 69 points over the first three frames and held the Highlanders to 20 second-half points in a 78-46 win.
The Longhorns rode the hot first half shooting of Blake Atwood to lead 20-15 after one. The senior sharpshooter scored a baker’s dozen in the frame while running mate Zach Eller added five points including a trey.
Their largest lead was nine points, but Highlanders got a three-ball from Dillon Sparks at the buzzer to pull within five at 20-15.
“We played a little soft on defense in the first quarter, but we started to pick it up some in the second quarter,” said JC’s head coach Austin Atwood. “I couldn’t be more pleased than how we played offensively. I thought that Eller did a great job of pressuring the ball and Gavin Reece had a really good game defensively. We challenged them at halftime, and our defense shut them down over the final two quarters. Cloudland is well coached so this is a good win for us.”
The momentum swing stayed in Johnson County’s favor throughout the second quarter. Atwood continued with the hot hand scoring nine more than gave him 22 points at the half. He ended the night with 27 points, a pair of steals and three assists.
“We had played against some very athletic teams at the Bahamas, so we were more worried about us than them,” said Blake Atwood. “We didn’t want to come out and not play well. The tempo was to our liking because we enjoy getting the ball out in transition. We got a lot of quick buckets, and our inside people did a great job of keeping them off the boards.”
The Longhorns got five second-quarter points by Gavin Reece and four more from Michael Oxentine that enabled them to build a 44-29 halftime advantage.
It was “Katy bar the door” to start the third.
Eller hit a big three then came up with a couple of steals that produced a pair of baskets by Darren Cunningham and Michael Oxentine. Clayton Cross connected on a trey, and Lucas Phillips produced a deuce that signaled the romp was on.
“We started getting some steals and were able to put the game away in the third,” said Eller. “We were excited to get back home and play in front of our fans. We didn’t want to disappoint them. Coach told us that teams usually play badly on the first game back from the Bahamas and we didn’t want that to be us.”
Eller added 10 points, five rebounds, two assists, and three steals. He and Atwood sit the final eight minutes.
The fourth quarter allowed both coaches to flood the floor with reserves. Zach Winters tossed in a nice runner for the Longhorns while Hayden Luckett had a late basket.
Oxentine was the third Longhorn to reach double figures with 10. Cross had his best varsity game scoring nine points. Cunningham and Reece added six and five points respectively.
Bentley Gilbert had nine points for the Highlanders. Hunter Shell and Robert Leeper tossed in eight apiece.
The Longhorns are now 5-3 on the season.

Cloudland 15 11 10 10 –46
Johnson Co. 20 24 25 9 –78
3-point goals—Cloud 3 (Shell 2, Johnson) JC 5 (Atwood 2, Eller 2, Cross)

Cloudland (46)
Gilbert 9, Shell 8, Leeper 8, Johnson 3, E. Blair 3, Arnold 6, Barnett 3, Stevens 2, J. Blair 4.

Johnson Co. (78)
Atwood 27, Eller 10, Oxentine 10, Reece 5, Arnold 2, Phillips 4, Cross 9,
Cunningham 6, Winters 2, Luckett 3

Lady Longhorns fall to Highlanders

JC’s Nathalie Winters (12) goes up to shoot a shot over Cloudland’s Trinity Vines (11). Winters dished out four assists in their 44-34 loss. Photo by Tameula Trivett

By Tim Chambers

Trying to sink a shot in the second half against Cloudland was like trying to win a stuffed animal shooting baskets on a crooked goal at the carnival for the Lady Longhorns.
Johnson County hit only five buckets in the final two quarters and shot a dismal 22 percent from the field that led to their 44-34 non-conference loss against the Lady Highlanders.
The Horns played well defensively which allowed them to stay in the hunt the entire game.
They trailed 19-18 at halftime after falling behind 14-7 at the end of the first quarter. Head coach Leon Tolley summed up the loss.
“Right now our offensive ineptitude is holding us back,” said Tolley. “We had stretches where we played good defense, and then we let a few bad offensive possessions effect us on that end. The bottom line is that one team came here to win and the other one did not. That’s why this loss is extremely disappointing to me. We have to put it in the review mirror because Elizabethton will be here in two days. That’s a big conference game for us.”
Johnson County could muster only three baskets in the first quarter getting one each from Natalie Winters & Taylor Parsons and a three-ball by Sadie Stout. The Horns trailed 14-7 heading in the second quarter but begin to chip away at the deficit.
Cloudland was leading 19-11 before Hazlee Kleine got things started with a nice bank shot in the paint that cut the deficit to six.
The Longhorns got a long three-ball from Taylor Parsons and put back by Emmy Miller late in the quarter that left them trailing 19-18 at the half.
They fell behind by 10 in the third quarter but battled back to pull within four on Parson’s second trey at the buzzer.
Cloudland led 28-24 heading into the fourth.
Tolley’s assessment about his team’s lack of knocking down shots came to a head in the frame.
The Longhorns misfired on seven straight shot attempts, and Cloudland was able to stretch it back at 10.
Johnson County mounted one last surge and got within six at 38-32 with 2:10 remaining on a couple of baskets by Taylor Cox.
The Highlanders got a key three from Jasmine Birchfield and another one from Megan Lunsford that enabled them to hold on for the win.
Parsons led the Longhorns with 10 points and five rebounds. Cox added eight points and three steals. Natalie Winters dished out four assists. Sadie Stout tossed in five points and had five rebounds. Emmy Miller led the rebounding with seven.
Cloudland had three players in double figures led by Lunsford’s 12 points. Stachia Wilson and Trinity Vines provided 11 each.

Cloudland 14 5 9 16 –44
Johnson Co. 7 11 6 10 –34
3-point goals—Cloud 4 (Lunsford 3, Birchfield) JC 3 (Parsons 2 Stout)

Cyclones rally past Horns


JC’s Lucas Phillips scores 2 of his 13 points on a layup as Elizabethton’s Eric Wilson (14) looks on. Wilson had 21 points in the Cyclones’ victory. Photo by Tameula Trivett

By Tim Chambers

Johnson County’s dominate play in the first half vanished in the third quarter against Elizabethton. The Longhorns missed their first 13 shots in the frame allowing the Cyclones to erase a four-point halftime deficit and win 71-59 on Friday night inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium.
It was the Three Rivers Conference opener for both teams.
Head coach Austin Atwood felt like it was more than their third-quarter shooting woes that led to their loss.
“They just came in here and were more physical than us,” said Atwood. “Eric Wilson had a heck of a game for them, but we were our own worst enemy. We were getting open looks, but we took some quick shots in the third quarter when we should have tried to have been more selective. I hope this loss lit a fire under us because I feel like we’re the better team when we have everybody but you got to go out and prove it on the court. We didn’t do that tonight.”
The Longhorns played without starting guard and key contributor Gavin Reece who missed due to a high ankle sprain. That put some added pressure on Blake Atwood who was forced to bring the ball up the floor against four Cyclone defenders who alternated defending him on the evening.
Johnson County led 15-12 after one and 32-28 at the half.
Atwood had 10 points at the break while Zach Eller and Lucas Phillips provided eight points apiece.
Everything appeared to be in Johnson County’s favor but the wheels
Eller’s three-ball to end the half had given them a four-point advantage and some much-needed momentum going into the break but all that would change due to a massive cold spell.
The Longhorns were held scoreless in the third quarter for more than six minutes. Elizabethton turned that into a 15-0 run and surged in front 43-32.
The Longhorns hit that last two shot attempts in the frame but trailed 43-36 heading into the final stanza. Wilson wasn’t about to let the Cyclones lose.
He finished the night with 21 points, four steals, six rebounds, and three assists. He was 6-of-6 from the foul line over the final two quarters.
Nico Ashley came off the bench to score 19 points. Evan Perkins added 15 points including a backbreaking three-ball with 5:01 remaining after the Horns had trimmed the deficit to four.
“We just couldn’t get stops when we needed too,” added Atwood. “Perkins hurt us on the outside and Ashley had a big game off the bench for them.”
Blake Atwood did his part to keep Johnson County in the game. He ended the night with a game-high 26 points including 10-of-10 from the foul line.
Zach Eller stepped up big; scoring 11 points while collecting a game-high six steals. Lucas Phillips contributed 13 points, and Troy Arnold added seven, but it wasn’t enough to offset the heroics of Wilson, Ashley, and Perkins. Carter Everett had seven points and seven rebounds for the Cyclones.
The Longhorns hope to have Reece back by Friday when they travel to Unicoi County.
“I think he’ll be ready to go by then,” added Atwood. “We definitely need to have him back in our lineup.”

Elizabethton 12 16 15 28 –71
Johnson Co. 15 17 4 23 –59

3-point goals—Eliz 7 (Wilson 4, Perkins 2, Rollins) JC 7 (Phillips 3, Atwood 2, Eller 2)

Elizabethton (71)
Wilson 21, Ashley 19, Perkins 15, Everett 7, Hughes 4, Rollins 3, Price 2

Johnson Co. (59)
Atwood 26, Phillips 13, Eller 11, Arnold 7, Oxentine 2, Cunningham 0, Cross 0

Lady Longhorns pummel Cyclones

JC’s Taylor Cox (13) drives for a basket against Elizabethton. Cox scored a game-high 24 points
in their 49-35 win. Photos by Tameula Trivett

By Tim Chambers

Johnson County is no longer “Whoville” when it comes to girls’ basketball. Just ask Elizabethton. The Longhorns shut down the Lady Cyclones’ offense in the second half like the “Grinch” did Christmas and came away with a 49-35 victory before a jubilant crowd inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium on Friday.
It was the second year in a row that the Lady Horns had tasted victory over ‘Betsy. The Horns enjoyed a one-point win last year on the Cyclones’ home court, but this one was more impressive.
Elizabethton scored just 14 second-half points on Johnson County’s stingy defense which pretty much decided the outcome. Head coach Leon Tolley gave his analysis on the outcome.
“We felt like somebody had to do something positive and then it would become contagious,” said Tolley. “We missed some shots in the first half; the rims appeared smaller. We started making some shots in the third quarter, and suddenly our scoring became contagious. Elizabethton hit a scoring lull in the first half and let us back in it. I felt like we were the aggressor in the second half because we kept changing up our defenses. That and our rebounding I felt like was the difference.”
A Longhorns’ victory didn’t look probable in the first quarter.
Elizabethton stormed out to a 13-6 lead after one thanks to seven first-quarter points by Kaylen Shell and a long three-ball from Torrie Roberts.
From there the Horns begin to chip away at the deficit.
Taylor Cox led the surge scoring seven points in the second quarter allowing Johnson County to get within two at 18-16. They trailed at the half 21-20, but a putback by Emmy Miller appeared to swing the momentum in their favor.
It was apparent after the intermission break.
The Longhorns got three quick buckets from Natalie Winters, Taylor Parsons and Cox to go up 26-21 before two minutes had elapsed. Winters enjoyed a huge quarter scoring six points including two nifty drives that pushed the lead up to eight.
Cox bombed in a three-ball that stretched their advantage at 34-23 with 1:39 left in the frame.
“I felt like we had the game right there,” said Parsons when they took the 11-point advantage. “We could see they were frustrated because they couldn’t hit their shots. Beating Elizabethton was a great way to open up our conference schedule. We had to play well to beat them.”
The Longhorns led 38-27 heading into the final period, and Cox made sure that the lead didn’t evaporate.
She got a pair of great feeds from Parsons and Sadie Stout to start the quarter that put the Horns up by a baker’s dozen. Miller added three key free throws as the lead grew to 15 late in the game.
Cox ended the contest with a game-high 24 points along with four steals and five rebounds. She felt like teamwork was the difference.
“My teammates got me the basketball, and everyone was looking for the open pass,” said Cox. “We worked as a team, and our defense played great. We hadn’t beaten them up here in 20 or so years so getting a win in front of our crowd was great. I couldn’t be any happier.”
Miller and Parsons added eight and seven points respectively, but their work on the backboards paid dividends. They combined to collect 23 rebounds with Miller gathering 13 of them.
“It felt good to get this win because all of us were working together,” said Miller. “We definitely wanted to beat Elizabethton up here in front of our fans.”
Winters provided seven points, four assists, and two steals. Stout was held to two points but helped the cause with six rebounds, four steals, and four assists. Abby Cornett and Hazlee Kleine logged some valuable minutes off the bench making the victory complete.
Winters said the loss to Cloudland on Tuesday was an eye-opener.
“We had a lot more confidence in ourselves and one another tonight than we did against Cloudland,” said Winters. “That loss hurt, and we wanted to redeem ourselves. I felt like we did that in front of our home fans. Beating them is always special but more so tonight because it was here.”
Shell led the Cyclones with 23 points and 11 rebounds.

Elizabethton 12 9 6 8 –35
Johnson Co. 6 14 18 11 –49

3-point goals—Eliz 4 (Shell 2, Roberts, Winters) JC 1 (Cox)

Elizabethton (35)
Shell 23, Townsend 5, Winters 3, Roberts 4, VanHuss 0, Norris 0.

Johnson Co. (49)
Cox 24, Miller 8, Parsons 7, Winters 7, Stout 2, Cornett 1, Kleine 0.

Longhorns clipped by Highlanders

November 28, 2018

By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor

Cloudland made like the “Grinch” and stole a game from Johnson County on Monday night inside of Sonny Smith Gymnasium. Devin Hall banked in a shot with 12 seconds remaining giving the Highlanders a 25-23 victory. Johnson County got off desperation three-point shot at the buzzer that drew iron but bounced away. It was Cloudland’s only lead in the second half.

“We didn’t take care of the basketball and took some bad shots at the end,” said JCMS’ head coach Devin Shaw. “We didn’t shoot well either. We will try and get better but this loss hurts. It’s very frustrating.”

The Highlanders took an early 8-4 advantage on a pair of baskets from Cayden Clark and a long trey by Eli Morgan. The Longhorns trailed 8-6 on Nick Speed’s basket after one but rallied to gain the lead back in the second. Christian Lipford hit a pair of baskets including one on a nice full court pass from Connor Simcox. Lipford’s basket at the buzzer gave them a 14-8 advantage at the half after Cloudland failed to score in the quarter. The Longhorns built their lead at 19-12 on a long trey by Graham Reece but Clark answered with one of his own. Cloudland trailed 19-15 heading into the final frame.

The Longhorns appeared headed for victory when Dalton Robison scored to make it 21-17. Clark tied the game with four straight points but the Horns had an answer. Peyton Pavusek’s basket put the Horns in front 23-21 with 1:32 remaining but Clark would connect again to tie the score with less than a minute remaining. That set the stage for Hall’s game winner. Clark scored a game high 18 points for the Highlanders. Lipford led the Horns with eight and a pair of steals. Pavusek added six points and six rebounds. Speed finished with four points, Reece had three points and three assists. Robinson scored the other two.


Cloudland 37
Johnson County 21

The Lady Highlanders scored the game’s first 27 points but Johnson County battled back in the last half to make it respectable. Brookanna Hutchins scored the Longhorns first basket with 50 seconds remaining in the first half. She also added one at the buzzer but the Horns trailed 27-4. Johnson County rode the play of Aubrie Baird in the second half to close the gap. She opened the frame with a runner in the paint and scored six points in the quarter. Baird finished with 11 points and six rebounds. Hutchins added six points and five rebounds. Amy Gunter and Sarah Arnold had a basket each. Savanna Mckinney scored a game high 12 points for the Lady Highlanders. Isabella Christman provided 10 points and Ellen Benfield recorded six. Ryan Turbyfield and Hannah Morgan closed out the scoring with five and four points respectively.

Lady Longhorns 40
Ashe County 15
The Lady Longhorns looked impressive in their 25-point win over Ashe County on Thursday. Hutchins had 11 points to top the Longhorns.

Longhorns fall to Ashe County

November 28, 2018

Skyler Lawson 35

JCMS’ Skyler Lawson (35) drives for the basket against Ashe Co. Lawson had 10 points in their 44-35 loss. Photos by Tameula Trivett

By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor

Johnson County’s fast start in the first quarter would fizzle out in the second half against Ashe County. The result would spell defeat. The Longhorns dropped a 44-35 contest to the talented team front, North Carolina. The Longhorns took an 11-6 lead in the first quarter sparked by a pair of three-pointers from Skyler Lawson. His first one gave them an earl lead at 7-6 then he added his second one at the buzzer. Ashe County would find its offense in the second quarter with Jake Grubb leading the way. His runner gave them a 17-15 advantage, but Peyton Pavusek tied it with a basket.

The scored remained deadlocked at 19-19 thanks to a pair of free throws by Christian Lipford as the half ended. But the second half resulted in a 180 turn. The Longhorns had trouble knocking down shots and fell behind 30-25 heading into the final quarter. But they would mount one last rally to start the fourth. Lipford connected on a long trey to pull them within two with 4.03 remaining in the game. It stayed that way until Grubb’s basket along with one each by Grayson Huffman and Sawyer Eller would push it up to eight with .58 seconds showing.

Ashe County outscored the Longhorns 25-16 in the second half with 10 of those coming on second-chance baskets.

connor simcox (1)

JCMS’ Connor Simcox (24) ties the game at 21 all in the fourth quarter with this shot. Simcox had nine points and 10 rebounds in their 28-26 win. Photos by Tameula Trivett

“We got beat by a good basketball team,” said JCMS’ head coach Devin Shaw. “I thought out kids played well in the first half, but we hit a stretch where we didn’t score for about four minutes in the third quarter that just killed us. They went up by seven and then we had to start playing catch up but the effort. They are the best team we’ve played so far. They rebounded the ball well with all their size.”


Lawson and Lipford led the scoring with 10 points each for Johnson County. Petie Pavusek added nine points and a team-high eight rebounds. Nick Speed registered three points, and Riley Tester scored a basket. Grubb tallied a game-high 14 points for Ashe County. Austin Groyan added eight while Lawson, Eller and John Perkins provided six apiece.

7th Grade Game

Johnson County 28
Ashe County 26
The seventh-grade boys earned the only win on the night with a hard-fought 28-26 victory. Johnson County trailed 21-19, but a basket by Conner Simcox tied the game with 1:54 remaining. The Horns took the lead for good on a steal and layup by Dalton Pope, and his two free throws would seal the game win with .14 seconds remaining. Pope led the way with 11 points while Simcox added nine points and ten rebounds. Ethan Reece helped the cause with four points while Isaiah Fenner provided a basket. Samuel Greer and James Potter each had a free throw to round out the Longhorns’ scoring.

Longhorns dominate All-Conference Team

November 28, 2018

By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor

Johnson County’s two year run of going undefeated in league play hasn’t gone unnoticed among the Mountain Six Conference coaches. The Longhorns have been ranked in the AP’s Class 3A poll for 20 consecutive weeks dating back to August of 2017. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year in 2018 after the team graduated 20 seniors from the previous year but that wasn’t the case. The prize puzzle was pieced together by head coach Don Kerley and his staff which saw their team ran roughshod over the opposition. Kerley’s efforts earned him coach of the year honors for the second consecutive year. His record during that span is an astounding 10-0 in league play and a 20-3 overall mark.

Johnson County’s Nathan Lane was tabbed as the Mountain Six Player of the Year. The senior running back compiled some eye-popping statistics over 11 games. He ended the year with 29 touchdowns including five that were scored on special teams and 178 total points. Lane had 120 carries for 965 yards and 15 receptions that totaled 220. He compiled over 2000 all-purpose yards and added 70 tackles on defense.

Tyler Norris was the unanimous choice for defensive player of the year. The senior linebacker rang up 188 tackles that included 20 for losses. Joining them on the all-conference team was senior wide receiver Zach Eller who also made the All-Academic team. Eller led the team in receiving with 15 catches for 350 yards and averaged 23 yards per catch. He also added 660 yards on special teams giving him 1010 all-purpose yards for the season.

Troy Arnold was tabbed to the first team. The senior quarterback threw for over 1000 yards after holding down the start fullback slot last year. Senior lineman Christian Krupsky is joined by freshman tackle John Stout and sophomore center Logan Gilley on the first team. The first team defense had a variety of Longhorns. Seniors, Weston Throop, and Curtis Lowe along with juniors Jared Kimble and sophomore Stacy Greer complete the Longhorns team.

Unicoi County’s Kody Lewis was named the offensive player of the year. Chuckey Doak’s Josh Norton and West Greene’s Kaleb Sciarra were named offensive and defensive lineman of the year. Unicoi’s Brock Thompson was voted underclassman of the year. Several players collected second-team honors that included Johnson County’s, Tyrone McFadden, Ethan Bower, Tyler Phillips, Colt Moody, and Lucas Walters.

Bahamas leaves a lasting impression on Longhorns

November 28, 2018

Longhorns team pic as the Bahamas

The JCHS boys’ basketball team is pictured on the beach in their warm-up jackets just after sunrise. The team spent 5 nights and 4 days in Freeport, Bahamas before arriving back on Sunday. Submitted photos

By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor

Imagine getting to leave the country for five days to play basketball. That’s just what the Longhorns did last week when they departed Tri-Cities Airport in Blountville on Tuesday and arrived in Freeport, Bahamas 90 minutes later. Some of those players like Troy Arnold and Zack Eller had to be amazed. They rode a bus three hours one way to Claiborne County to play a regular season football game. And the sites on the beach in Freeport sort of overshadow those of downtown Tazewell, Tennessee. The Longhorns had a remarkable trip according to head coach Austin Atwood. He commended his team for how they represented Johnson County.

“I had several coaches and parents from the other schools ask me how they behave so well,” said Atwood. “It’s just type of kids we have and how they were raised. We took them to the straw market place where they could wheel and deal a little and all of them enjoyed that. The beach was right in our back door at the resort. We had plenty of food at the resort and all of it was included in the trip. Many of our kids got to see stuff they never had before. It was definitely a culture learning experience for most of them.”

It didn’t take long for everyone to know who the Longhorns were. They pulled off a huge shocker in their first game by upsetting tournament favorite, Columbus Georgia High School 61-56. Blake Atwood fired in 38 points to lead the way and Troy Arnold added 11 points and 10 rebounds.

“Blake played really well and so did Troy,” said Atwood. “Those teams were athletic and Troy and Zach Eller held their own on the boards.

The game was close all the way and several Longhorns stepped up late to fuel the win.

“Troy hit two shots that were huge,” added Atwood. “Gavin Reece had a big basket and Zach Eller’s three that he hit was maybe the biggest shot of all.”

The Longhorns lost their next game to Sunland 61-48 after leading 31-30 at the half. Atwood scored a game high 21 points while Eller had a good outing scoring 12.

“Columbus Georgia was the best team that we’ve beaten since I’ve been head coach here,” said Atwood. “Sunland was from the Bahamas and they were big and athletic. The teams from down here are starting to shoot the ball well and that makes it tough with all their athleticism. We played well in the second game but they just shot well in the second half.”

The players were treated to a night of seafood while three and the resort where they stayed was breathtaking. It was the first airplane ride for many of the players which also made Atwood happy that they got to go. I made the Freeport trip in 2003 to watch my son play in the same basketball tournament. I learned that several improvements have been made over the years and the Tabernacle Baptist Thanksgiving Classic was celebrating two decades of existence. Atwood feels like his team will benefit from the five days that they spent together.

“We had to dig deep and play hard down there to compete,” said Atwood. “Our players enjoyed the time they spent around one another

and so did the parents that went and fans. It’s a trip that everyone will always remember.”

Longhorns at the market place

The team did a little wheeling and dealing at the straw market before dealing Columbus Georgia a 61-56 upset loss.

Swift to guide JCMS Lady Horns

November 21, 2018

By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor

The middle school Lady Longhorns will be looking for some stability to try and build a good foundation on for their middle school basketball program. The team will have its third head coach in as many years only this time it’s one that is home grown. Former Longhorns’ standout player Sarah Swift was tabbed to take over for Brooke Boone who is now teaching in Carter County. Swift excelled on the volleyball and basketball courts for the Lady Longhorns prior to graduating from Emory & Henry College. She feels like they are somewhat behind the eight ball but is happy to be in her new role.

“We didn’t get to do any summer camps because I didn’t find out that I was coaching until they were over,” said Swift. “We’ve been in the gym working on a lot of fundamental drills and shooting. The eight grade and seventh grade classes have a lot of potential. They all hustle well and don’t give up on anything.”

The Lady Horns have a lot of size among its post players and they had some balanced scoring in a recent win over Jonesborough. Four players had seven points or more and all the starters got in on the scoring act. Swift will look to Brookanna Hutchins, Peyton Gentry and Autumn Lewis to provide a lot of the scoring. Ryleigh Icenhour is a good rebound that will start inside. Aubrie Baird can knock down shots and will round out the starting vie. Amy Gunter and Audrey Savery will provide some much needed minutes off the bench. Patty Lipford, Marissa Summerow and Sarah Arnold will also compete for playing time.

Swift feels like the team feeds off of each other well because most of them played together last year. She is hoping it leads into some good team chemistry.

“They all know one another and they anticipate on what each other is going to do,” added Swift. “They have good size and they can be athletic. I like the makeup of this group because they don’t get on one another. We’ll learn as we go but we’re hoping they can become a good basketball team.”

JCMS boys will try and reload

November 21, 2018

By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor

Call it rebuilding or a major overhaul but head coach Devin Shaw has his work cut out for him this season. He’ll try and replace last year’s talented team that advanced well into the regional tournament before being eliminated by T.A. Dugger. This year’s team has the court savvy but they are lacking in varsity experience and size. Shaw is optimistic that he can bring them along as the season progresses.

“Each year is different,” said Shaw. “This team doesn’t compare to any of my past teams at all. That’s what keeps it fun. This group is a very smart team. What they lack in size they make up for it by being scrappy on offense and defense and not making mistakes. They’re a fun group to coach.”

Shaw hopes to get point production from Peyton Pavusek, Christian Lipford and Nick Speed. He’s says that all three posses some good basketball skills.

“You can plug Pavusek in about anywhere on the court,” said Shaw. “He’s a super kid that works hard and makes good decisions. He’s good in the classroom and he’s a good scorer and rebounder. Lipford understands his role. He can score points in bunches. He’ll get a lot of shots off our defense if he steps up and plays well on that end. Speed is probably our best passer and rebounder along with Peyton. We’ll count on those three to provide a lot of our offense.”

Graham Reece will start at point guard. Shaw loves the court sense and leadership that he brings to the table.

“Graham might not be the tallest or quickest but I promise you he’ll be the smartest player on the court,” said Shaw. “He makes good decisions and don’t turn the ball over. He won’t score a lot but his value is critical.”

Shaw is also expecting good things from Chris Grill and seventh grader Connor Simcox.

“Both of them will player a lot,” said Shaw. “They can pass the basketball and each of them can score on the inside.”

Dominic Kelley and Brayden Gentry are two more players that Shaw is expecting to contribute. He indicated it was a wait and see thing.

“We’re still trying to work out a lot of kinks,” added Shaw. “But this bunch is a cohesive unit that doesn’t play selfish. They do care who scores because they just want to win. They’re starting to buy into this team concept. Several things will determine playing time.”

Shaw tabbed Hampton and Chuckey-Doak as the two teams to beat.

“It’s hard to tell but both of them have some good players returning,” said Shaw. “We just want to be better by tournament time. We have a lot of work to do from now until then.”

Lady Longhorns eyeing regional tourney berth

November 21, 2018

By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor

The late Aretha Franklin sang about it and Johnson County is hoping to earn it. The Lady Longhorns are determined to gather some “respect” among their league opponents by reaching the regional tournament for the first time in nearly two decades. They are picked to finish last by the league coaches but this year’s squad is a little different from past years. They return nearly their entire team off a squad that managed just five wins last season. The Longhorns don’t have a senior on the squad but Head coach Leon Tolley looks for his team to be much improved in his second year at the helm. He hopes this group might be the one to get the program over the hump.

“We’ve got a lot of experience despite not having any seniors,” said Tolley. “Most of them have played since they were freshmen. The main thing we have to do is get some confidence in ourselves and get a little tougher. We’ve got to get to where we can play better offensively. We improved quite a bit on defense over the summer but we have to be able to score. The one thing this group has is great chemistry. They like one another and they get along well. We’re a lot more organized this year than we at this time last year but that was no fault to the girls. I like the makeup of this team and I’m expecting us to be better because others teams will be better too. Our schedule is tougher this year so hopefully we’ll be ready by tournament time.”

The Lady Longhorns must replace starters Courtney Brooks to graduation and junior Adrian Hall their best shooters. They’ll try and compensate with a seven man rotation to take up some of the scoring slack. Juniors Natalie Winters, Taylor Parsons and Taylor Cox will likely be in the starting lineup. Sophomores Emmy Miller and Sadie Stout will join them. Juniors Abby Cornett and Hazlee Kleine will be counted on to play a lot of minutes in the early going as the team looks to build some depth.

“Winters, Parsons, Cox and Cornett will provide the leadership for our team along with Kleine,” added Tolley. “Miller and Stout will have to do their part to.”

Tolley said that Winters and Stout would share the point guard duties. Parsons, Miller and Kliene will have to do the dirty work inside and guard the other team’s top player.

“Our kids will need to be versatile,” added Tolley. “We’ll start out with a seven man rotation and hopefully later on some others will be able to contribute.”

One of those will likely be sophomore forward Rhiannon Icenhour who is a strong rebounder and has size. Freshman Jacey Eshelman and sophomores Tiffany Price and Abby Lipford will likely via for some playing time. Johnson County defeated Happy Valley twice and Elizabethton on the road in conference play last year. Their non-conference wins came against Hampton and David Crockett. Winters, Parsons, Cox, Stout, Cornett and Miller were all in agreement on one thing. Their first of many goals is to make the regional tournament.

“That definitely should be one of their goals,” said Tolley. “They have the talent level and ability to do it but it just a matter of them doing it at that time. They were nervous in the first round of the District last year because they knew they hadn’t been there in so many years. They put un-do pressure on themselves. I don’t see that happening this year.”

Tolley tabbed Sullivan Central as the team to beat in the Three Rivers Conference.

“They were good last year and have almost everyone back. Sullivan East is always strong and Sullivan South will be good with a lot of key players returning. You can never count out Elizabethton or Unicoi County either. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us. Our schedule contains good teams from top to bottom. We don’t have any easy win there.”

Horns Happenings

November 21, 2018

Ethan Bower 22 shoots

JC’s Ethan Bower (22) shoots over Ashe County’s center in Saturday’s 61-44 win. The Longhorns are now 3-1 on the season. Photo by Tameula Trivett.

By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor

Johnson County had a good showing on Saturday. They won a pair of games inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium while the girls split a pair in Bristol.

Johnson County 61
Ashe County, N.C. 44
A quartet of Longhorns reached double figures allowing the Horns to pull out a victory over Ashe County. Blake Atwood, Lucas Phillips and Zach Eller tossed in 12 points apiece to lead the Longhorns. Clayton Cross added 10 points off the bench. The Longhorns’ defense dominated first half play holding Ashe County to only 10 points while building a 23-point lead. They put it on cruise control in the second half. Darren Cunningham grabbed five rebounds for the Horns. Atwood dished out five assists and Gavin Reece provided four. Alec Roland topped Ashe County with 13.

Johnson County 73
Volunteer 49
The Longhorns rode the red hot shooting of Blake Atwood to defeat Volunteer on Saturday for their second win. Blake Atwood connected on five 3-pointers including four from the corner. He ended the game with 29 points. Zach Eller added 10 points, five assists and five steals. Gavin Reece played well scoring nine points with four assists. Troy Arnold dished out six assists. Michael Oxentine tallied eight first half points. The game was close until the Longhorns went on a 25-0 run to blow the game open in the first half. Brody Hunley and Heath Miller scored 12 and 11 points for the Falcons. The Longhorns are now 3-1.

Lady Longhorns 53
Tennessee High 33
BRISTOL—Sadie Stout lit up the scoreboard for 22 points leading Johnson County to a 20-point victory over Tennessee High on Saturday. Stout hit four treys including three in the second quarter. Emmy Miller added 11 points and 10 rebounds. Taylor Parsons had a good game with eight points and eight boards. The Longhorns outscored Tennessee High 17-11 in the third quarter that allowed them to stretch their 23-13 halftime advantage.

Daniel Boone 74
Lady Longhorns 37
BRISTOL—Daniel Boone dominated play and led 56-32 after three. The Lady Trailblazers outscored the Horns’ bench 18-2 in the final quarter. Sadie Stout led the way with 15 points. Abby Cornett added eight points to the cause. Maddi Runnels scored a game high 26 points for Boone. Jaycie Jenkins followed with 15.

Happy Valley 35
Johnson Co. Middle 33
The Longhorns held a one point lead late in the game but a costly turnover allowed the Warriors to score an easy bucket and leave Mountain City with a win.

Chris Lipford led the Horns with 12 points. Graham Reece added five points including a trey.

Lady Longhorns split a pair

November 21, 2018

By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor

Johnson County took care of business in their opening game to start the 2018-2019 basketball season but let one slip away in the nightcap. The Lady Longhorns defeated David Crockett 60-45 in their first game but fell to Volunteer 46-43 in the nightcap.

Johnson County 60
David Crockett 45
The Lady Longhorns started the night on a high note with an impressive showing against Crockett. Their shot selection in the first half was excellent, and their defense held the Lady Pioneers scoreless for the first five minutes of the game. Sadie Stout had a long three, and Emmy Miller converted a three-point play that sparked a 10-0 run capped off by Taylor Cox’s runner. The Longhorns led 12-3 after one and continued to step it up in the second quarter. Natalie Winters tossed in four quick points, and Taylor Parsons added a jumper that increased their advantage at 15. Stout made sure the lead stayed in tack by knocking down a pair of treys in the frame.

The Lady Longhorns led 27-12 at the half.
“We played well there early, but we backed down in the third quarter when they started getting after us,” said Lady Longhorns’ head coach Leon Tolley. “Until we start showing teams that we can take care of the basketball then pressure defense is all we will see.”

The Lady Horns were outscored 16-10 in the third and turned the ball over four times that led to Crockett points. They stopped the bleeding in the fourth quarter with a 23-point outburst. A lot of their damage was done at the foul line. Winters sank 4-of-5 charity tosses. Cox and Stout added a pair each. Parsons put the Horns back up 53-32 late in the game with a put-back, but the Lady Pioneers closed the final three minutes on a 13-7 run to make the score more respectable. The Lady Longhorns placed four players in double figures. Stout led the way with 15 points. Miller stepped up big with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Winters cashed in with 11 points and five assists. Cox contributed 12 points and three steals. The Longhorns got a stellar performance from Parsons who tallied seven points, ten rebounds, and six blocked shots.
Mackenzie Baldwin and Emma Gouge were the only Lady Pioneers in double figures with 11 and 10 points.

Volunteer 46
Johnson County 43
The Lady Longhorns appeared to be headed for a victory after leading Volunteer 35-20 midway through the third quarter. But that’s when the wheels fell off. They were outscored 26-8 over the final 13 minutes of the game that led to Volunteer’s come-from-behind victory. Head coach Leon Tolley didn’t sugarcoat his team’s play during Volunteer’s run. He brushed off fatigue and pointed to the mistakes that cost them what should have been a victory.

“We had a chance to go ahead down by one point and called time,” added Tolley. “We got out there and didn’t run the play, and then we throw it away for a layup. We call timeout again and draw up a play to get a three, and we didn’t run it either. We played like we were 15 points down instead of 15 head when we had the lead. We didn’t play smart at all, and we didn’t value our possessions.”

Tolley went on to say “Our legs were fresher than theirs, so I don’t want to hear fatigue as being our excuse. They played a game at Unicoi County then hopped on the bus to come and play us. They didn’t make any excuses and outplayed us in the second half. This loss is on us. We can’t blame anyone but ourselves.”

Sadie Stout had 12 points for Johnson County while Emmy Miller added 11. Taylor Cox and Natalie Winters added seven and six points. Bryna Minton had a game-high 17 points for the Lady Falcons.

The Longhorns are now 1-1 on the season.

Horns fall to Toppers but defeat North

November 21, 2018

Blake Atwood 11 scores against SH

JC’s Blake Atwood (11) spits two Toppers to score a 3-point play. Atwood had 18 points in their 71-64 loss. Photo by Tameula Trivett


By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor

Johnson County was within a stone throw of taking down Goliath-size Science Hill but couldn’t connect with the fatal stone down the stretch. The Longhorns hung with the Toppers the entire way before falling 71-64 on Friday in front of a large crowd inside Ray Shoun Gymnasium. The Longhorns led 37-35 at the half but hit a tough stretch in the final quarter. Head coach Austin Atwood was happy with their effort.

“I thought we played well and our kids played hard,” said Atwood. “We didn’t stand around; plus we shot the ball well. Gavin Reece and Lucas Phillips knocked down some big shots for us. If they keep doing that we can play with teams. I felt like we outplayed them at times and could have won the game if we had made 80 percent of our free throws. I’m disappointed that we didn’t finish.”

Johnson County’s Blake Atwood set the tone early by scoring the game’s first five points including a dunk. A pair of treys by Lucas Phillips and one from Gavin Reece enabled the Horns to stay close in the quarter.

They trailed 17-14  after one
The Longhorns didn’t back down from there getting a couple of treys by Reece to tie the game at 20. The lead swapped hands four times in the frame before baskets by Troy Arnold, and Zack Eller would push their advantage to five. The Horns held off a late Toppers’ rally and led 37-35 at intermission. Science Hill stepped up its pressure defense in the third quarter, but the Horns had an answer. They went to the inside getting six points from Michael Oxentine and four more from Troy Arnold. Science Hill went on a 7-1 run that helped them build a 59-54 advantage heading into the fourth, and they would double it thanks to some poor shooting by the Longhorns.

The Horns misfired on eight straight shots allowing the Toppers to widen the margin by an even dozen. Johnson County battled back to get within five on a pair of Atwood baskets and a couple more from Arnold but couldn’t get any closer. Atwood led the Longhorns with 18 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds. Reece added 14 points including three treys and three steals. Arnold collected 12 points and ten rebounds.

“I’m happy with our overall play but displeased that we didn’t execute down the stretch,” added Atwood. “That’s what upsets me the most.”

Johnson County 66
Sullivan North 52
A tired Johnson County squad finally found its legs again in the second half to knock off Sullivan North by 14 after playing back-to-back games. They Longhorns trailed 10-9 after one but fought back to take a 16-12 lead on a three-point play from Zack Eller to start the second quarter. The Longhorns hit 12-of-16 free throws in the first half that helped them build a 28-22 halftime advantage. Johnson County began to widen its lead in the third quarter and at one point led by a dozen. They held a 43-33 advantage going into the fourth.

Any thoughts of a Golden Raiders’ comeback were erased early in the final quarter. Baskets from Atwood and Phillips would push the lead to 15, and a pair of free throws by Reece gave them their largest cushion at 17. North outscored the Longhorns bench by five over the final two minutes of the game, but the damage was during the first six. The Longhorns scored 25 points in the frame, and the closest that North got was 10. Atwood blistered the nets for 25 points to lead the Horns. Phillips provided 13 and Oxentine collected 10. Eller and Reece tallied six apiece. Evan Bishop and Zack Scott topped North with 16 and 12 points respectively. The Longhorns are now 1-1.

Gavin Reece 34 drains a 3 against North

JC’s Gavin Reece (34) connects on a three-point shot versus Sullivan North. The Longhorns won the contest 66-52. Photo by Tameula Trivett

Smaller Horns hoping for big things

November 21, 2o18

By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor

Johnson County’s starting lineup will be loaded with a bunch of “small fries” that are lacking in height but their hoping to “super size” that with a ton of heart, hustle and determination when they take they floor. Head coach Austin Atwood is facing what could be a major rebuilding project after losing senior starters Bud Icenhour, Nathan Arnold, Jordan Edes-King and Sean Lewis off of last year’s 22-11 squad that made it to the first round of the regional tournament.

The Horns starting lineup will feature a quartet of players that are 6’0 and under and their tallest starter is a 6’2 point guard. But that won’t dampen their outlook for the upcoming 2018-19 basketball season. The Longhorns return one of the top players in East Tennessee. Blake Atwood is a four-year starter that is beginning to draw some interest from several colleges. The 6’2 senior point guard averaged 19 points, five assists, four steals and six rebounds per contest last season and he’s grew two inches over the summer.

Atwood played well in the Rocky Top League among some the best high school talent across the state but the Horns will need much more to go along with him in order to have a successful year. Atwood said their still searching to find replacements for last year’s talented team.

“We lost so many good players to graduation,” said Atwood. “You don’t have many senior classes that have talented players like it did. Losing Edes and Arnold inside is definitely going to hurt. Edes probably changed games more than anybody I ever had taking charges and who can replace a shooter like Bud who could score points in bunches. Nathan was a very good rebounder and our best defender. We lost Lewis early but all those guys were three year starters that knew how to play. We had some others like Jimmy Bower who knew his role and did it well. It’s definitely going to be hard to replace that type of production on the court and their leadership. We’ll have to play hard and shoot well. We’ve got to be fundamentally sound and not turn the ball over. We’ll have to box out and try and keep teams off the board. It’s going to be a challenge for everyone.”

Troy Arnold (6’0, Sr.) and Michael Oxentine (6’2, Jr.) will try and hold down the fort on the inside. Luke Rash (6’6, Sr.) and Darren Cunningham (6’3, Jr.) will also likely see some minutes.

“Arnold and Oxentine are undersized but they play much bigger than what they are,” said Oxentine. “We’re hoping Rash can give us some good minutes because he’s lighter than last year and in much better shape. Cunningham is getting stronger and can help us some too.”

Their lack of size could be compensated by some talented guard play. Zack Eller (5’11, Sr.), Gavin Reece (5’9, Sr.) Lucas Phillips (6’0, Jr.) and Atwood can all shoots the lights out from around the perimeter. Atwood knows they’ll have to produce.

“Eller can shoot the ball well and penetrate and so can Reece and Phillips. They’ll have to knock down shots and take care of the basketball. We should be able to push the ball up the floor if we can rebound. Those guys will have to step up and play big for us.”

The bulk of the load will fall on Atwood who will likely see a lot of box in ones and junk defenses. His quickness makes him a nightmare to guard for the opposition. Atwood hopes their size factor can possible be overcome with their quickness on the defensive end.

“This team defends better than a lot of team that I’ve had,” said Atwood. “We’ll have to trap because we can’t man up and let them throw the ball inside. We need to try and score 65 points or more in a game to win. We want to try and wear the opposition down.”

Clayton Cross (5’10, So.) and Zack Winters (5’8, Sr.) will compete for minutes. Playing time will be determined by production.
Atwood tabbed Sullivan East and Elizabethton as the teams to beat with Sullivan South right also in the mix.

“East has a young kid coming in that will be good along with their all their returning players. Elizabethton will be good with their football players returning and South has some talented players also. You can’t ever count out Unicoi County either. We have a good league from top to bottom. You have to come ready to play every night because everyone is capable of beating us.”

Tomahawk Talk: It that time of year

November 14, 2018

By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor

One coach said it best at the jamboree on Thursday night at Daniel Boone.

“Basketball is here. Thank God it’s that time of year.”

The chilly evening temperatures and leaves on the ground spells basketball season is here for us old timers like me. Johnson County’s girls’ and boys’ basketball teams will open up play on Thursday and Friday night in the Hall of Champions game to held inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium. The girls will play back-to-back games against Volunteer at 5:30 and David Crockett at 7:00 pm on Thursday. The boys will battle Science Hill on Friday at 6:30 and Sullivan North at 8:00 pm. The two teams will play again on Saturday. The girls will battle Tennessee High and Daniel Boone at Vance Middle School and Vikings Hall at times to be determined. The Longhorns will take on Ashe County at a time to be determined. David Crockett was scheduled to take part in the event but opted out due to their football team playing in the playoffs on Friday.

JCMS gets swept
The middle school Longhorns were swept in all four games at Chuckey-Doak on Thursday. They’ll be at home on Thursday night to take on Happy Valley.

Austin-East proved over the weekend that it can play a close second fiddle when it comes to playoff football. Gatlinburg-Pittman found that out the hard way. Many felt like the Highlanders lost to Kingston to avoid playing Alcoa in the second round of the 3A playoffs. Instead they defeated Johnson County 36-33 last Friday in the first round of the playoffs. The Highlanders were 6-4 during the regular season while Kingston was 3-7. Longhorn fans can now sit back and enjoy. G-P got crushed by at Austin East 54-6 on Friday in the second round of the playoffs.

Nearing the 300 milestone
JCHS’ head coach Austin Atwood is only 13 wins away from entering into the 300 win club as a head coach. Atwood will be faced with the task of trying to replace four starters off of last year’s squad that compiled 22 wins. Blake Atwood is likely to enter into the 1500 point club soon. This would be a great accomplishment for the father and son combination.

Did Tennessee hire the right football coach?
Fans were about to raise doubt about the hiring of Jeremy Pruitt as Tennessee’s head football coach. That was until Saturday. Pruitt become the first coach ever to defeat two top 20 ranked teams in his first year as head coach. The Vols can secure a bowl bid if they can win at home against Missouri on Saturday or at Vanderbilt in their final regular season game.

How do you like me now?
It wasn’t long ago that ETSU’s first year head coach Randy Sanders was put on administrative leave for slapping a player in the helmet. They might be slapping him with a big raise after the 2018 football season. The Bucs can win the Southern Conference title outright with a win over Sanford at home on Saturday. The Bucs are currently 6-1 in league play while Wofford is 6-2. Sanford defeated the Terriers 35-20 at home giving ETSU a chance to do the improbable. Sanders served as offensive coordinator at Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida State before landing the ETSU job. The Bucs are ranked No.18 in the latest FCS college football poll.

Some big time football close by
Appalachian State is only 30 minutes away and is currently 7-2 on the season. The Mountaineers were ranked in the top 25 before losing at Georgia Southern back on October 15. Appy will play their final two games at home inside of Kidd Brewer Stadium. They’ll take on Georgia State on Saturday at 2:30 pm and Troy on November 24 at 2:30 pm for senior day. Troy is undefeated in league play at 6-0 while Appy is 5-1. The Mountaineers can reach the Sun Belt championship game on December 1 if they can put together back-to-back wins.

Tim Chambers is the sports editor for the Tomahawk. He can be reached at