JC’s Natalie Winters (12) scores against Chuckey-Doak in the Hardees Classic. Winters had 3 points, 3 steals and 6 assists in the Lady Horns’ 54-18 win. Photo by Tim Chambers
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
Jonesborough—After losing to tournament champion Meigs County in their first game, the Lady Longhorns bounced back rather nicely to win three straight games en route to their fifth-place finish in the Hardees Classic played at David Crockett High School last week. They took down West Greene, and Chuckey-Doak and defeating the Lady Buffaloes by a score of 54-18. Johnson County surged out to a 15-5 first-quarter lead and never looked back while dominating the contest. Natalie Winters converted a basket to end the first quarter giving the Horns their biggest lead of the game at 10. Taylor Parsons had the hot hand in the first quarter scoring six points, all from long range. The Horns took a 29-10 lead into the locker room at halftime thanks to six points from Taylor Cox and four more by Emmy Miller. They had inflated their cushion to 30 (44-14) by the end of the third quarter with some in-your-face defense. The Horns also pushed an offense that was clicking on all cylinders. They held the Lady Buffaloes to only four points in the final period to put the game away rather easily. Cox finished with a game-high 17 points leading the way for Johnson County. Parsons added 13 points with all coming from the outside. She also collected ten rebounds, as did Miller, who contributed seven points in the win. Winters dished out six assists o go along with three points. She also added four steals. Hazlee Kleine came off the bench to play well, scoring eight points and grabbing eight rebounds. No Lady Buffalo reached double figures thanks to the stingy Lady Longhorns’ defense.
Rhiannon Icenhour is playing tough defense against Chuckey Doak High School Friday at the Hardee’s Classic at David Crockett High School in Jonesborough. Photos By Beth Cox
Taylor Cox works to stop Chuckey Doak from making a pass at the line. The Lady Horns beat the Lady Knights 56-26 at the Hardee’s Classic, which was played at David Crockett High School Friday in Jonesborough.
By Beth Cox Sportswriter
Friday’s basketball action at the Hardee’s Classic at David Crockett High School showed the strength and talent of Lady Longhorns basketball. The first quarter had Johnson County working together as a strong team with Natalie Winters getting the ball down the court and baskets made by both Taylor Cox and Sadie Stout, Johnson County had the lead early in the game and did not let it go. Chuckey Doak had a secret weapon of their own. Sierra Jaynes put away three treys in the first quarter before the Lady Horns were able to stop her. Johnson County missed several shots in the first quarter, but they were moving the ball, looking inside, and found Taylor Parsons, who added two points before the end of the first quarter. Momentum was on the Horns’ side, going into the second quarter. Chuckey Doak struggled offensively, and with Parsons’ and Miller’s fierce rebounding, Johnson County was able to get the ball down the court before Chuckey Doak could set up any defense. Johnson County was in a very favorable position going into halftime at a comfortable lead (29-15), but Chuckey Doak was not going down without a fight and played very aggressive basketball. But, the Lady Knights were only able to score 11 points with eight coming from Jaynes. Johnson County banked twenty-seven points in the second half with Stout’s 15 points, followed by Cox with 14. Miller put 11 points on the scoreboard, while Tiffany Price came off the bench and contributed 5 points. Hazlee Klein added 3 points, followed by Parsons and Rhiannon Icenhour with two each. Coach Leon Tolley was proud of how well the girls worked together but stressed they need to have a better defensive game. “We haven’t played very well defensively the last three games, and that has to change with the regular season beginning next week,” Tolley said. Tolley sees a few things that need to be worked out before the Lady Horns take on Unaka Tuesday at home. “We just have a lot of small things to work on,” he said.
JC’s Taylor Parsons (3) scores over two Volunteer defenders. Parsons had 11 points and ten rebounds in their 59-36 win in their season opener. Photo by Tim Chambers
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
CHURCH HILL—The Lady Longhorns flew high in the first half in their season opener at Volunteer that proved to be enough to earn them a win. Johnson County built a 37-8 halftime advantage then cruised their way to a 59-36 victory. The Horns got five points from Emmy Miller and four more by Taylor Cox to grab an 11-2 lead after one-quarter of play. They didn’t shoot well during the first eight minutes but held a 13-4 rebounding edge. Longhorns’ head coach Leon Tolley touched on his team’s play. “We came out nervous like I thought we would and missed a lot of shots that we should have made and thrown it away because of pure nerves,” said Tolley. “We played well up until halftime, but we struggled after coming back out in the second half. We tried to work on some things we wanted to do down the road in the second half, but we didn’t do that very well. Overall it was a good effort, and we played hard, but we’ve got to do a better job finishing.” Impressive 2nd quarter by the Longhorns The Lady Longhorns would turn up the defense in the second quarter, plus they begin to make shots. Taylor Parsons started the frame with a three-point play, and Sadie Stout got hot from the outside and began knocking down shots. She finished with 10 points in the quarter, including a pair of treys. Parson complimented her output with seven points and five rebounds in the period. The Longhorns got a massive contribution from point guard Natalie Winters whose three-point play made it 34-8 with 19 seconds remaining. Here steal on the ensuing possession set up Stout who drained a three at the buzzer. The Lady Longhorns led 37-8 at the half. Ugly second half The Lady Longhorns tried several different combinations in the second half only to be outplayed by the aggressive Falcons. They outscored Johnson County 23-21, but the damage had already been done. The first-half deficit was too much for them to overcome. Cox had a good night scoring 15 points and adding five rebounds. Stout recorded 14 points, five rebounds, and three steals. Parsons was the third Lady Longhorns in double figures with 11 points and ten rebounds. Miller grabbed a game high11 rebounds in addition to scoring seven points. Winters dished out six assists along with collecting three steals and scoring five points. Rhiannon Icenhour came off the bench to provide a pair of baskets in the paint. Kennedy Knittel led the Falcons with 12 points. The Lady Longhorns are now 1-0 on the season.
JC’s Ethan Bower (11) pushes the ball past a Volunteer defender en route to the basket. The Longhorns dropped a 51-42 contest to the Falcons. Photo by Tim Chambers
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
CHURCH HILL—Johnson County had a big fish on the hook in their basketball season opener but couldn’t reel it in down the stretch. Volunteer outscored the Longhorns 14-5 in the fourth quarter to prevail 51-42 on Thursday night inside the Falcon’s den. Volunteer jumped on top 16-12 in the first quarter after failing to score on their first five possessions. Lucas Phillips got the Horns on the board with a jumper after the Falcons had gone up 8-0. A three-ball from Ethan Bower and a three-point play by Clayton Cross got the Horns within a basket at 14-12. Volunteer led 16-12 after one and went into the locker room at halftime with a 24-19 advantage. Horns play well in the third The Longhorns rode the play of Darren Cunningham in the third quarter to get back in the game. He scored six consecutive points during one stretch that enabled the Longhorns to move in front 31-27 at the 3:24 mark. Volunteer tied the game at 37, all thanks to a three-pointer at the buzzer by Andrew Knittel, but he would then deliver the dagger in the fourth. He scored a game-high 23 points, and all of them came during the second half. He tallied 15 of the Falcons’ 17 total fourth-quarter points that allowed them to walk away with the win. Cunningham and Cross each added eight points. Cunningham also grabbed eight boards. Knittel’s 23 points were complemented by six Falcons that scored, but none reached double figures. Cross would tie the game at 36 all in the fourth quarter with 4:22 remaining only to watch Volunteer score the next seven points. Johnson County’s head coach Austin Atwood agreed it was the difference in the game. “This team is going to go through a lot of growing pains until later in the season,” said Atwood. “Our lack of experience showed down the stretch after the kids had played a good third quarter to get back in the game. We’ve got a lot of work to do before we can become a basketball team that competes. We’ve got a lot of growing up to do.”
Aubree Glenn (5) drives past a Bulldog defender in Monday’s contest. Glenn had 8 points and 7 rebounds but the Horns fell 26-22. Photos by Tameula Trivett
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
A good crowd was on hand at Johnson County Middle School to watch the undefeated Hampton boy’s team play and their beloved Longhorns. Hampton was better than advertised, winning 50-30. The Lady Longhorns took the Bulldogs down to the wire but fell 26-22. The JV boys won a 38-32 contest while the girls fell 18-8.
Boys Varsity Hampton 50 – JCMS 30 The Bulldogs showed why they have been able to dominate play in the middle school ranks, including wins over John Sevier and Liberty Bell. Johnson County jumped on top 4-0 on baskets by Dalton Pope and Connor Simcox, but that was quickly erased. The dynamic duo of Dylan Trivett and Hayden Campbell proved to be too much for the smaller Horns. Trivett fired in 10 first-quarter points that included two treys as Hampton went on a 13-0 run to grab the lead at 18-6. Campbell was there to pick up the slack in the second quarter. The 6’2 man child dazzled the crowd with his footwork that allowed him to throw down nine points and collect four steals off the back of the Bulldogs’ press. His team led 30-14 at the half, but they increased that in the third. The Dogs found a way to shut down Pope, who had five points in the second and doubled down on Simcox, which cut down his point production. Trivett cut loose for nine more en route to his game-high 21 points. Campbell was just as good, collecting 15 rebounds and registering 12 points. The Longhorns played hard the whole way, which pleased their head coach Mark McClain. “You always want to win, but the bottom line is they are a better basketball team than we are,” said McClain. “I thought we did some good things, and our kids played hard. We’ve got a ways to go, but I think we can be a good basketball team after Christmas.” Pope led the Longhorns with nine points. James Potter added seven, and Connor Simcox had five points and 13 boards. The Horns were coming off a big win at Happy Valley, where Simcox scored 23 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. The Longhorns will return to action on December 5, against Colonial Heights at home. Girls Hampton 26 – JCMS 22 Hampton’s Taylor Berry scored 16 points, including five clutch free throws in the final minute to lead Hampton to a close win over the Lady Longhorns. Johnson County tied the game at 22-22 on two free throws by Sierra Green, but Berry hit 4-of-4 foul shots in the final 53 seconds to preserve with a win. The game was tied 11-11 at halftime and 17-17 after three. Aubree Glenn had a good game with eight points and seven rebounds, while Mackenzie Kelly provided seven points and eight rebounds. Sierra Green contributed five points and four steals. “I thought that might have been the best game that we’ve played so far,” said Lady Longhorns’ head coach Sarah Swift Jennings. “We would have won this game had we been able to make our free throws. That was the difference, but I am happy with our effort because I saw a lot of improvement out there tonight. They played hard the whole game.”
7th Grade Boys JCMS 38 – Hampton 32 Kyle Sluder broke a 30-30 tie with a basket, and Eli Dickens added another helping the Horns to avoid being swept by taking the seventh-grade contest. Sluder scored a team-high 13 points, and Dickens added 12 in the win. Jace Stout converted nine free throws, including two late in the game. Trey Berry scored a game-high 21 points for the Dogs.
JC’s Sydney Souder signed on Tuesday to play volleyball for Campbellsville University. Souder is pictured with her parents, Joy and Clay “Chopper” Campbell. Photo by Tameula Trivett
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
The five-hour plus drive from Johnson County to the bluegrass state didn’t cause one Johnson County volleyball player to waver when trying to decide where to cast her lot. Sydney Souder chose Campbellsville University by signing to play volleyball for the Tigers on Thursday before her family, teammates, and friends at Johnson County High School. Souder played other sports at the elementary level but decided that she wanted to make volleyball a career. She started playing with the Northeast Tennessee Volleyball Club as a freshman, and they moved her up to a 17 and under team as a sophomore. She was then moved up again to an 18 and under team as a sophomore before deciding to play in her age group for the Tri-Cities Extreme. She plans on being with the Extreme during the summer. “I still have some work to do as a player,” said Souder. “It takes time and dedication to be the player that you want to be, and I still need to improve my game. That’s why I play summer year-round. You can’t just want it and expect it to happen. You have to work for it.” Souder has been working a long time for this opportunity. She was an All-Conference player this past season and did not doubt what she wanted to do and where. That’s what led her to choose Campbellsville. “I immediately knew that this was it after the first time I went up there during the summer for a volleyball camp. I felt at home because it was very inviting and the coaches and staff were very positive toward all the players there. It was a good environment, and I knew I wanted to be there too. I did not want to leave.” Souder didn’t make her final decision until a second visit to the school convinced her to look at the Lady Tigers long and hard. She spoke about her time there. “I went down a second time to a two -day camp and got to know all the girls and hang out with them. They shared their experiences and what it was like playing at the college level. That too was big in my decision making.” Souder said that club ball had helped her improve her game, but she did enjoy her time as a Longhorn. “It’s hard sometimes because you don’t get the same coaching as you do in travel ball, but you do get to play with your friends and have fun. It was a really good experience. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.” Souder said the five-plus hours away from home will be a big adjustment for her, but she’s excited about making the move. “I looked at a couple of other schools, but this felt more suited for me. It’s going to be an adjustment at first because I will miss my family and friends, but I think it will be good to get away and get out of my comfort zone. It will give me a chance to see the real world. I want to be a physical therapist, and Campbellsville will get me started on the right road. I owe a lot to Mrs. Tina Reece, who has had a big influence on me.” Just like her dad and mom, Clay “Chopper” Souder and Joy Souder. “I couldn’t have accomplished any of this without my mom and dad. They have been there every step of the way. I owe it all to them.” Souder will once again play this summer in Bristol before leaving for Campbellsville in the fall. Her coaches have told her what to expect. “The coaches want us to focus on our studies, faith, and then volleyball while here. They expect you to have your schoolwork done so you can prioritize volleyball because it is an extracurricular activity. This is like a dream come true. I’m happy to be a lady, Tiger.”
JC’s Michael Oxentine scores and gets fouled against Cloudland. Oxentine finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds in their 60-43 win. Photo by Tim Chambers
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
Johnson County overcame a lot of adversity in Saturday’s game with Cloudland to pull out their first win of the season. Behind some strong bench play from Trevor Gentry and Preston Greer, they were able to derail Cloudland 60-43 on Saturday inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium in the Hall of Fame Classic. The Longhorns got off to a flying start but lost three key players due to foul problems and one by injury. Head coach Austin Atwood knows that his young team will face some growing pains after losses to Volunteer and Science Hill before this win. “Any win that this team gets right now is good, and we’ll cherish it,” said Atwood. “We’ve got a long way to go, and I keep telling people that I don’t know if this group can do it, but if they’re going to, it won’t be until mid-January. We’ve got to find our way because we don’t play hard. They didn’t have to go as hard last year with Zack Eller, Gavin Reece, Troy Arnold, and Blake Atwood, but we’ve got to get our returning players to step up and play smart. Everything right now is a learning process.” The Longhorns had a great first quarter and opened up a double-digit lead with some red hot shooting from long distance. Lucas Phillips fired in a trio of three-pointers while Ethan Bower connected on one. The Longhorns broke an 8-8 tie with a couple of baskets on the inside by Michael Oxentine to go on top 12-8. At that point, the long-range bombing began with Bower’s trifecta and two by Phillips, including one at the buzzer. The Horns led 21-11 after one.
Staying the course The Longhorns managed to stay on top thanks to Phillips and Oxentine’s play in the second quarter. The returning duo combined for 11 points helping the Horns stay in front 34-26 at the half. The quarter proved costly as the Longhorns lost point guard Corie Neely to an injured chin in the frame. He left to get stitches after dishing out three assists, but that was only the start of adversity.
Upstep the reserves Phillips fouled out early in the third quarter after picking up two quick fouls. He scored 16 first-half points, but Oxentine would pick up the slack in the third quarter. The “Ox” scored six points and grabbed seven rebounds in the frame helping the Horns maintain a 49-39 advantage heading into the final frame. It was the Longhorns’ defense and key play by a couple of reserves that did the Highlanders in during the fourth quarter. Preston Greer had five points, including a three-ball that stretched their advantage to a baker’s dozen 55-42 with 4:15 remaining. Trevor Greer also came up big with five points that included three key free throws and five defensive rebounds. Clayton Cross connected on a trey from long distance that put the Longhorns up by16 then came up with a pair of steals that prevented the Highlanders from scoring a couple of breakaway buckets. “We were scrappy there down the stretch,” added Atwood. “We have to play like that the whole game. The guys on the floor played hard at the end. Lucas and Michael have to be on the floor for us. We’ll learn lessons in every game that we play from now January.”
Stat leaders Phillips led the Longhorns with 17 points before fouling out at the 5:01 mark in the third. Oxentine added 16 points and 12 rebounds before picking up his fifth foul with 6:37 remaining in the game. Gentry came off the bench to provide six points and ten rebounds. Cross added seven points, four steals, and three assists, while Greer contributed seven points and two steals. Bower recorded a game-high five assists. Caleb Sluder scored a game-high 19 points for the Highlanders. Victor Hicks added 12 points in a losing cause. The Longhorns (1-2) will be back in action on December 3 at home against Unaka.
JC’s Emmy Miller (1) battle for a loose ball between two Mtn. Mission defenders. Miller had ten rebounds and 8 points in their 73-52 win. Photo by Tim Chambers
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
The Lady Longhorns were on a mission against Mountain Mission School from Grundy, Virginia, Saturday inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium. Behind a remarkable first high performance, they were able to defeat the very athletic Mountain Mission’s squad 73-52 to run their season record to 2-0. The Longhorns led 54-31 at halftime, and much of that was due to their shot selection with a blistering 55 percent from the field (16-for-29) but played another ugly second half, which didn’t sit too well with head coach Leon Tolley. “I told our kids that this was a great opportunity to play against a team that had tremendous athleticism because that is what you’re going to see if you get down the road,” said Tolley. “We did a good job of sharing the ball in the first half and got a good cushion. In the second half, we went back to our old ways, and the ball got stuck. We didn’t compete too well on the defensive end because we had to score 73 points to win, and that’s not the way we play. I told our kids that there are two ends of the floor, and you’ve got to play on both of them. Right now, we’ve got some that just want to play on one end, and wins are going to be few and far between if that continues. The fact is we didn’t share the ball in the second half, and we didn’t guard the ball either. That’s got to change.” Tolley was spot on in his analysis. Six different players scored in the first quarter for Johnson County that allowed them to surge in front 21-16. That trend continued in the second period. Taylor Parsons got hot and began to light it up on the outside. She had nine points in the quarter, including a trey. Taylor Cox matched her output with nine points and a pair of steals that resulted in baskets for the Horns. Miller had six points, and seven rebounds at halftime and Sadie Stout was just as effective. After knocking down two treys in the first quarter, she added five more points in the second quarter to give her 11 at half. Abby Cornett came off the bench to score five points, including a trey, but the play of point guard Natalie Winters was the key. She quarterbacked the team by amassing seven assists in the first 16 minutes and added four points and three steals. All this allowed the Lady Longhorns to build a 23 point halftime lead at 54-31, but the swagger wasn’t there in the second half. They scored 33 points in the second quarter, which were 14 more than they tallied in the final two. Mountain Mission outhustled the Horns to come with loose balls and was able to prevent the Horns from making it a massacre. At one point, they cut it to 58-41, but four points each by Stout and Cox would extend the lead back to 66-44, allowing Tolley to empty the bench.
Stat leaders Cox led the Longhorns in scoring with a game-high 22 points. Parsons added a double-double, 15 points and ten rebounds her second consecutive one. Stout also had 15 points in addition to five rebounds and three steals. Miller contributed ten rebounds and eight points. Winters finished the game with eight assists with seven coming during the first 16 minutes. Hazlee Kleine came off the bench to collect six rebounds. Cornett had five points and three steals. Cons Mbiya topped Mountain Mission with 12 points. LydIa Niause and Meklit Bekale added nine points each. The Longhorns 2-0 will take part in the Hardees Classic at David Crockett this week. They were scheduled to take on state powerhouse Meigs County in their first game.
JCMS Girls Varsity Basketball Team 2019-2020 Kneeling: Savannah Dowell, Sarah Icenhour and Desirea Robinson. Standing, L-R: Head Coach Sarah Jennings, Sierra Green, Aubree Glenn, Shawana Arnold, Mackenzie Kelly, Samantha Reece, Emily Walker, Harley Wykle, Ashlynn Beam and Assistant Coach: Elisha Brown. Photos by Tim Chambers
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
Last season was a tough year for the middle school Lady Longhorns, but there is hope that the 2019-20 basketball season will be much better. Sarah Jennings Leonard is beginning her second year as head coach, and she is much more comfortable this time around. “It’s a lot different this year than last because I realize some of the things that we need to work on as eighth-graders,” said Jennings. It’s also important for us to teach our seventh-grade kids basketball fundamentals and how to play hard. I didn’t know what to expect coming in as a new coach, but I’ve got a better mindset now after watching everyone play on our schedule last year.” The Lady Longhorns must find some scoring and will look to Sierra Green to pick up the slack. “She scored 20 points in our win earlier this year at Pigeon Forge,” said Jennings. “She’s a good rebounder and can handle the ball well.” The Longhorns have added Aubree Glenn on the team, and she comes into the program with a good resume. “She played at T.A. Dugger and Happy Valley some,” said Jennings. “She’s got experience and knows how to get the ball up the floor. She can help us a lot at the guard position. We’re going to count on her.” Another trio of eighth-graders will factor heavily in the starting lineup. MacKenzie Kelly, Ashlee Bean, and Sarah Icenhour will all need to contribute. “Mackenzie has some size and is a very good rebounder,” added Jennings. “Ashley has shown that she can take care of the basketball and can also score. Sarah will help us, especially on the defensive end. We expect some good things from all three of them.” Harley Wykle is another player that has caught the attention of Jennings. “She’s improved a lot since last year. I love the fact that she plays hard and she wants to get better. She makes things happen when she’s in the game.” Jennings will throw a couple of seventh graders into the mix. Savanna Dowell and Desirea Robinson are expected to see a lot of playing time. “Desirea has shown in our first few games that she knows how to defend and steal the basketball. We think that Savanna can be a good player to come off the bench and add depth to our team. We’re going to play both of them.” Jennings knows that Cloudland will be the team to beat after defeating Liberty Bell in a recent preseason tournament. She wants her team to be in the mix. “I’m going in with good expectations because we know what to do now, and the girls’ heads are in it. We want to be able to compete with teams like Hampton and Happy Valley. Everyone knows that Cloudland is the top dog, but we want to be able to compete with the rest of the league. Our girls are working hard to get there.”
JCMS Boys Varsity Basketball Team 2019-2020 Kneeling: Manager, Evan Dollar. Standing, L-R: Head Coach Mark McClain, Jace Stout, Noah Eastridge, James Potter, Isaiah Fenner, Connor Stout, Samuel Greer, Connor Simcox, George Grill, Tanner Bulliner, Dalton Pope, Ethan Reece, Eli Dickens, Kyle Sluder and Assistant Coach Chris Dunbar. Photos by Tim Chambers
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
The middle school boys’ basketball team has a new coach on the bench this year, and he comes in with an impressive resume after having been the head varsity basketball coach at Hampton High School. Mark McClain will guide the Longhorns, and so far, they look much improved from where they were this time last year. McClain played his high school basketball for the Bulldogs and scored over 1,200 career points. He played in the state semifinals as a freshman and was All-Conference his junior and senior year. He went on to play college basketball at Tusculum before returning to his Alma Mater as head coach from 2004 through 2007. He compiled over 50 wins in his coaching career, including one sub-state appearance and a runner-up finish in the District and Regional. He’s happy to be back on the bench and especially as the head coach at Johnson County Middle School. He believes that it’s a perfect fit for him. “I feel like I am more suited to coach at the level because the kids that I have are eager to learn,” said McClain. “We’ve been working on our fundamentals and especially on how to play defense. We are constantly working on ball-handling, shooting, and defending drills. You have to know how to play before you can ever start running plays.” McClain realizes how important it is for his kids to know basic skills before moving over to the high school. His goal is to supply the high school a core of good players by being a top-notch feeder program. “As a high school coach, you want your incoming freshmen to know how to play and for them to have developed some skills. That’s why it’s so important to teach them how to play the right way. The wins will come if you can become a sound fundamental basketball team out on the floor. Our kids are starting to pick it up and are improving every day.” The junior Longhorns will look to their 6’1 center, Connor Simcox, and point guard Dalton Pope to carry the load. “A lot of things we do are built around Conner,” added McClain. “He’s our best rebounder, and he’s doing a better job of developing his offense. He can be special, but we’re pushing him to go harder. He’s a hard worker and a very good kid. Dalton is our point guard, and he can score’ He’s one of our best defenders, and he also leads the team. We’re expecting a great deal out of both of them.” George Grill, James Bowes, and Samuel Greer will round out the starting five. “George is a tough kid that does all the little things well, especially defending. James is a pretty good shooter and ball handler. Samuel is a kid that has a really good size who can rebound and defend. We think all three can be good players for us.” A trio of seventh graders will also see some varsity playing time. Kyle Sluder, Eli Dickens, and Jace will all log minutes. Connor Stout, Isaiah Fenner, and Noah Eastridge are eighth-graders who could contribute some depth off the bench. McClain has beefed up the schedule with several large middle schools on the schedule. He touched on the reason. “You can’t improve by going out and beating teams that are not very good by 20 or 30 points. We want to play some of the bigger schools to see where we are and what we need to improve on. We want to be where they are.” McClain said the plan is for his team to focus more on working hard up until tournament time. He knows what it takes to get better. “I love this group of kids and what I’ve seen so far,” said McClain. “We’ve got a really good seventh-grade group that has some good athletes, and the eighth-grade players are coming on. I can see us being a pretty good basketball team as they gather some experience and play together. I’m happy with where we are now, and I know they’ll get better as the season goes on. We’re going to work hard to become a good basketball team.”
JCMS Boys Junior Varsity Basketball Team 2019-2020 Kneeling: Nathaniel Walker. Standing L-R: Chris Reece, Zachary Lunceford, Luke Worlock, Gunner Hutchins, Coach Chris Dunbar, Eli Dickens, Kyle Sluder, Derek Baird and Jace Stout. Photos by Tim Chambers
JCHS Boys Junior Varsity Basketball 2019-2020 Front Row, L-R: Skyler Lawson, Dalton Robinson, Dalton Reece, Chris Brown and Christian Lipford. Back Row, L-R: Preston Greer, Trevor Gentry, Gavin Ward and Peyton Pavusek. Photos by Tim Chambers
JCHS Boys Freshman TeamBasketball Team 2019-2020 Front Row, L-R: Skyler Lawson, Dalton Robinson, Peyton Robinson, Graham Reece and Christian Lipford. Back Row, L-R: Brayden Gentry, Riley Tester, Dalton Osborne, Dominic Kelly and Chris Grill. Photos by Tim Chambers
JCHS Girls Junior Varsity Basketball Team 2019-2020 Front Row, L-R: Sarah Arnold, Destiny Lunceford, Abby Lipford, Peyton Gentry and Melissa Summerow. Back Row, L-R: Coach Kechia Eller, Aubrie Baird, Brookanna Hutchins, Amy Gunter, Ryleigh Icenhour and Autumn Lewis. Photos by Tim Chambers
JCHS Boys Varsity Basketball Team 2019-2020 First Row, L-R:Peyton Pavusek, Clayton Cross, Lucas Phillips, Ethan Bower and Gavin Ward. Back Row, L-R: Preston Greer, Trevor Gentry, Daren Cunningham, Michael Oxentine, Zack Parsons and Head Coach Austin Atwood. Photos by Tim Chambers
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
Trying to replace last year’s senior quartet could prove to be a difficult task for head coach Austin Atwood and his Longhorns. Gone off last year’s squad is King University guard Blake Atwood along with sharp-shooting guard Gavin Reece, defensive specialist Zack Eller, and the blue-collar MVP Troy Arnold. They orchestrated a record of 50-18 over the past two seasons in addition to reaching the sub-state last year, bowing out at Knoxville Fulton 90-76, who went on to finish runner-up in the state tournament. Head coach Austin Atwood knows that he has a difficult task at hand in trying to develop a team that can compete in the tough Three Rivers Conference. He touched on what it will take and those that he is counting on to contribute. “You can say we’re in a rebuilding mode,” said Atwood with a chuckle. “We had three good years with that group of seniors, and those guys are hard to replace. They were great friends, great teammates and gave our fans a good run, but now we’re faced with trying to reload. We have a couple back off that team, and these guys want to build on that. We’re not going to be very good early, but we got a chance to be ok late and be able to compete. We’re not going to be very deep, and we will have to stay injury-free. When you coach in a small town, you are going to have years where you’re rebuilding, but the guys we have are competitors. We’re hoping to turn a few heads by late January or early February.” The Longhorns return a starter and one part-time starter off of last year’s squad that will help lead the way. Seniors Lucas Phillips (6’0, G) and Michael Oxentine (6’3, F) are the two mainstays while senior Darrin Cunnningham (6’3, C) and junior Clayton Cross (6’0, G) will play a key role. They too logged some varsity minutes. “You have to look to your seniors for leadership,” said Atwood. “Lucas and Michael have the most experience, but Darren and Clayton played a little too. We’re counting on Lucas and Michael to score, but Darren will need to rebound and Clayton to defend because he’s a lot like Eller was for us last year. He doesn’t anticipate as good yet, but he’s quick and gets into the passing lanes. We were hoping to have Zack Parsons (6’0, F, So), but he’s got an injury and probably won’t be back until around or after Christmas. We want to see what he can do.” Phillips said that he and Oxentine learned a great dead from last year’s senior “Fab Four.”He plans on trying to take that and build on it. “We’re looking to use what we learned from those seniors and try and make it better,” added Phillips. “We’re wanting to following in their footsteps, but we lacking depth. We have to develop some more players. I believe our team will play hard, and we’ll surprise some teams too as we get to play more together.” Atwood said that guys like juniors Trevor Gentry (6’1, F) and Ethan Bower (5’8, G) would need to step up and play. They also have freshman Peyton Pavusek (5’11, F) and sophomore Gavin Ward (5’11’ G). Oxentine said the team is eager to show others what they can do despite their lack of experience. “We are definitely ready for our senior year because we’re still hungry from last year,” added Oxentine. “We were only one game away from making the state tournament. We know that it is all about being ready to play by tournament time. We want to show everyone what we can do. I believe that we will surprise some people along the way.” Atwood tabbed Sullivan South as the team to beat along with Elizabethton. “South will be loaded because they have everyone back from last year. Elizabethton will be right there with them once the football boys get back. I think Sullivan East and Unicoi will also have good teams because they all have some very good players back. It’s going to be a tough league where you have to play well every night. We’ll have our hands full whenever we take the court.”
Johnson County High School Boys and Girls Basketball Schedule 2019-2020
November 21 at Volunteer (Varsity Girls & Boys) 22 Hall of Champions (at Johnson Co.) Boys only 23 Hall of Champions (at Johnson Co.) Girls and Boys 26-30 Hardees Classic Tourney at Crockett (Girls only) December 3 UNAKA 6 SULLIVAN SOUTH 9 at Cloudland 10 DAVID CROCKETT 13 HAPPY VALLEY 17 at Hampton 20 at Sullivan Central 23 UNIVERSITY HIGH 26-30 Christmas Tourney at Fort Chiswell, Va. (Boys only) January 2 at Holston, Va. (girls only) 7 ELIZABETHTON 10 at Sullivan East 13 at Unaka 14 HAMPTON 17 at Unicoi 21 at Sullivan South 24 at Happy Valley 28 SULLIVAN CENTRAL 31 at Elizabethton February 4 SULLIVAN EAST 7 UNICOI COUNTY 10 CLOUDLAND 13 at University High 14 at David Crockett District Tournament at Sullivan East Feb. 19 though the 25. Regional Tournament site to be determined Feb. 28 through March 5
JCHS Girls Varsity Basketball Team 2019-2020 Sitting: Hannah Brooks, bookkeeper. Front row, L-R: Rhiannon Icenhour, Abby Cornett, Natalie Winters, Taylor Cox and Tiffany Price. Back Row, L-R: Coach Kechia Eller, Emmy Miller, Taylor Parsons, Head Coach Leon Tolley, Abby Lipford, Hazlee Kleine, Sadie Stout and Coach Garry Smith. Photos by Tim Chambers
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
The talent, experience, and athleticism are there to make it a special basketball season for the Lady Longhorns. Now it’s time to prove that they are among the elite. Johnson County won 14 games last year, including a win over Sullivan East in the District tournament yet fell one game short of reaching the regional, something they haven’t done in more than two decades. All that could change this season. The Horns return everyone including all five starters and their first two players off the bench from last year. Head coach Leon Tolley is optimistic yet cautious when talking about this year’s squad. “We have the capability and mindset to be a good basketball team, but we have to get out of our comfort zone,” said Tolley. “You have to do that if you want to do things that you’ve never done before. If you always do what you always did, then you’ll always get what you got. We have to be more physical and more up-tempo. If we’re ahead in the fourth quarter, we can’t start playing not to lose because we’re afraid that we’re going to win. This team has to play with some urgency.” The Longhorns return all five starters that include seniors Taylor Cox, Taylor Parsons, and Natalie Winters along with juniors Emmy Miller and Sadie Stout. There are high expectations for this quintet of players. Each of them knows their roles on the team, and they have set goals. “Our goal is to get into the regional and make it to the state tournament,” said Cox, who led the team in scoring last year. “We’ve worked hard all three years, and we want to make a difference when it comes to girls’ basketball up here. Parsons and Winters agreed with Cox and added their input. “I like our closeness because we’ve all been together since middle school,” said Parsons. “We spend a lot of time with each other both on and off the court so we know one another like the back of our hand. We all want to see each other play well.” Winters said this team was different than some of the other ones that she’s played on. “We bond better together than the other teams we’ve been a part of in the past. There is a good chemistry among us, and you can feel it. We know each other’s strengths and try to use those to the best of our abilities. We’re good at reading each other and listening as to what we need to do to get better.” Miller and Stout will also return as starters from last year. “This team has a lot of ability, but now we have to make it work out on the floor,” said Miller. “I believe in our coaches and us. I think we can take this thing to the next level if we keep working hard.” Stout agreed but wants to take this thing to unchartered waters. “We know how to work with one another because we’ve played together since the fifth or sixth grade, and that’s a big help,” said Stout.”Seeing the boys play in the sub-state last year makes us want to be in that situation. I would really love to make the state tournament and play in Murfreesboro. That’s always been a dream of mine.” The Longhorns should be deep on their bench with Cornett and Kleine. Tolley is also expecting Rhiannon Icenhour and Tiffany Price to give them some good minutes. Cornett believes the bench has to play well in addition to the starters. She touched on one thing that they need to work on. “I think we have a good offensive game, but we still need to work on our defense because we slack there some,” stated Cornett. “I feel like we have what it takes to make a run at the conference championship and advance into the regionals this year.” Kleine knows what her role is on the team, and she’s ready to lend her assistance. “I’m not the best shooter or defender, but I give it my all when they put me in. I hustle and play hard and hope to give our team a spark. I’m very comfortable with coming off the bench. “ That’s the type of mindset that Tolley needs from his squad. He feels like it’s time to finally earn all the accolades that have been given to them. “I have heard for three years now how much talent this team has and potential. It’s time they step up and show it because everything is in place. All they have to do is go out and prove it on the floor. It might not always be pretty, but if we play up to our capabilities, then it could be a successful year.” For the Lady Longhorns to be successful, all of them have to buy into the team concept. That includes putting the team before themselves and winning as their top priority. “Last year, we had some team issues. This year our key phrase is family. If we can keep that mindset and nobody cares who scores or does what, then we can win. The first time that old green-eyed monster creeps in there, it could hurt. That caused us to lose four or five games last year, and I didn’t like it. I hope they learned from it and come ready to play every night.” Tolley tabbed Sullivan Central as the team to beat along with Elizabethton. The Cougars return Wofford signee and 6’1 center Abby Crawford while the Cyclones return star players, Kaitlyn Bailey and Kaylen Shell. “Central was the best team I saw all summer, and Elizabethton is right there with them. You know East will always be good, and Happy Valley with Shalyn Whitson will be a tough team. Everybody on our schedule is good, so we have no bye weeks. We’re better this year, but everybody else is as well. Nothing is going to be given to them. You don’t always get what you want. You have to go out and earn it.”
The Johnson County Middle School girls’ basketball had their first home game of the season Friday night to a packed house. The fans were cheering loud for their Lady Longhorns and hoping the girls could trample all over the Mosheim Indians, but sadly the Indians had their own plans as to who would be wrangled in for the night. The Lady Longhorns had a strong presence at the beginning of the game. McKenzie Kelly did a good job taking the ball up the court but needs to be patient and wait for good passes and shots. She made three points in the second quarter and a free throw in the second half of the game. Aubree Glenn tried to move the ball down the court and tried to find an open shot, but offensively it just was not happening for the Lady Longhorns. Sierra Green knew her team was in trouble when they had control of the ball, “we need to slow the ball down and not be slinging shots.” It is hard to win ballgames with only eight points in the first half and eight in the second. Aubree Glenn went away with five points for the night, followed by Kelly adding four of the sixteen points made by the Lady Longhorns. Desirea Robinson contributed three in the second half as well as Emily Walker. Defensively, The Lady Longhorns could not make the needed adjustments to stop Mosheim’s fast breaks. The Indians stacked up quite a few points just from the foul line. The Lady Longhorns were quick, but they have to keep their hands up to avoid some unnecessary fouls. Early in the first quarter, the Lady Longhorns started racking up the fouls, and that continued throughout the night. The Lady Longhorns are a talented team. They never gave up throughout the ballgame. They fought hard, which at times got them into some foul trouble. With a little time in the gym, the Lady Longhorns will be ready for Unicoi County Thursday night at home.
Basketball action Thursday night at JCMS had the Lady Longhorns in a tough fight against the Unicoi Lady Blue Devils. Seventh-Grade The seventh-grade girls got things started nicely, and played hard from the very beginning and did not quit until the buzzer rang. The young team was aggressive throughout the night, which seemed to catch Unicoi off guard. Johnson County’s seventh-grade girls not only limited their turnovers but also were strong defensively. Coach Sarah Jennings was pleased with the performance of her seventh-graders. “We have been stressing taking care of the ball and making good passes, and it showed tonight,” she said. Sarah Johnson’s defense was top-notch, as she was blocking and rebounding like a player wanting a win against a rival team. She had eight defensive rebounds and two offensive rebounds for the night. Johnson controlled the defensive game, but Desirea Robinson was the one bringing in the points for the Lady Longhorns, contributing twelve points for the night, including four assists. Kayden Epperly, Emma Eller, and Kylah Hensley all added to the team’s success by making foul shots. Jennings thought her girls did a great job and was proud of the Lady Longhorns 21-14 success over the Lady Blue Devils.
Eighth-Grade The eighth-grade Lady Longhorns had different results against Unicoi’s eight-graders. Johnson County struggled to control the ball throughout the night against Unicoi. Turnovers were a big problem for the Lady Longhorns; they would get down the court and throw the ball away. The Lady Horns wanted to set the ball up and take more time finding the open player. Unfortunately, the results were not in their favor. Jennings’ was proud of how well her team played against Cloudland and was hoping for better results with Unicoi, “I felt good about us after playing Cloudland. We did a lot of good things that game. We just weren’t in it to win it against Unicoi.” The Lady Blue Devils took full advantage of Lady Longhorns’ inability to take care of the ball, which led to several turnovers and points for Unicoi. The Lady Horns lost, 14-28. Jennings feels her team will be ready for Happy Valley Thursday night, “We are going to regain our focus, work on our defense and shooting, and be ready for a better outcome.” Aubree Glenn was the top shooter with five points for the night.
After the success the JCMS Longhorns had on the home court against Mosheim, everyone was expecting a repeat win for the young team at home Thursday night, but Unicoi had other plans. The game started fast and furious for both teams; it was obvious this game would be a fight to the end. With 5:32 on the clock, Dalton Pope made three points, followed closely by James Bowers and Samuel Greer with two each. With 3:48 in the first quarter, the score is 8-0, but not for long. Unicoi took advantage of the Longhorn turnovers, and with 34 seconds in the first quarter, Unicoi regained momentum and is up 13-10. The second quarter belonged to the Blue Devils. Unicoi fired up to five points with 5:29 on the clock. Conner Simcox worked hard in the second quarter to get something started for his team. Tanner Bulliner helped close the gap with a three-point shot quickly followed by Simcox and Pope’s two-point play, the score is close (19-23) but only briefly, Unicoi fired up eight points before the half. Simcox was plagued with missed opportunities at the foul line, but again he dominated under the goal and was able to make fifteen points for the night. The Longhorns had too many turnovers in the second half, which helped Unicoi get those extra points. The third quarter was all about the Blue Devils, with the score 30-40 the Longhorns needed to make some adjustments, but the Blue Devils had the winning energy on their side and just kept making their baskets. With 1:24 on the clock in the fourth quarter, the game belonged to Unicoi. Simcox’s strength underneath the basket is powerful. Pope is strong outside, but unforced errors and missed shots plagued the Horns all night. Coach Mark McClain felt his boys played hard but turned the ball over too much, giving up several uncontested shots. “I continue to see improvements each game,” McClain said. He also knows there is work to be done, “We need to place a higher value on taking care of the ball and getting the good shot each possession.” Simcox finished the night with fifteen points followed by Greer with seven and James Potter with six.
The Mountain Six named its All-Region 1 3A All-Conference team on Friday, and seven Longhorns received first-team honors. Curtis Lowe, Colt Moody, Ethan Bower, Ricky Fenner, John Stout, Danny Medley, and Jia Webster were the recipients. Webster was also named to the All-Academic team. Stacy Greer, Lucas Phillips, Michael Oxentine, Logan Gilley, and Stephen Bunn were named to the second team. Below is a listing of players receiving first-team honors and the schools where they had played. Chuckey-Doak’s Ben Murphy was named coach of the year, and his quarterback Matthew Palazzo was voted as the player of the year.
All Three Rivers Conference Team 2019 Player of the Year: Matthew Palazzo. Chuckey-Doak Offensive MVP: Kody Lewis, Unicoi County Defensive MVP: L.J. Mitchell, Unicoi County Offensive Lineman MVP: Corwin Ramsey, Chuckey-Doak Defensive Lineman MVP: Kaleb Sciarra, West Greene Specialist of the Year: Miguel Vasques, Unicoi County Newcomer of the Year: Zeke McDonald, North Greene Freshman of the Year: Nathan Norton, Chuckey-Doak Coach of the Year: Ben Murphy, Chuckey-Doak 1st Team: C-Doak: Hayden Rush, Seth Shelton, Chris Cutshall, Chris Bradley, Cayden Phillips, Evan Murvin, Hayden Brown, Colin West and Matt Buch Unicoi County: Ahante Bredlove, Rodrigo Castellion, Diego Diaz, Lane Garland, Michael Harrington, Roby Lemmon, Brock Thompson, Peyton Whitson. Johnson County: Curtis Lowe, Colt Moody, Ethan Bower, Ricky Fenner, John Stout, Danny Medley, and Jia Webster West Greene: Chase Jennings, Alick Daugherty, Dakota Wood, Celmete Barboza, R.I. Ferguson, Allen Vaughn Claiborne County: Eli Stone, Hayden Hollin, Jimmy Del Ervin, James Satowski North Greene: Ethan Atnip, Tyler Sanches, Shane Cooter, Garrett Johnson
JC’s Curtis Lowe (1) breaks the tackle of A-E’s (3) Isaiah Ligon. Lowe rushed for 63 yards in his final game as a Longhorn, but they lost 41-0. Photos by Joy Icenhour
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
KNOXVILLE—The “Coyote” never could catch the “Roadrunner” in the classic Warner Brothers cartoon that we all grew up watching as a kid. Johnson County’s defense found out what “Wiley E. Coyote” must have experienced because they too couldn’t catch another “Roadrunner” on Friday. Treyveon Foster showed why he was named a Mr. Football Finalist in Class 3A last week by accounting for 407 yards of total offense and three touchdowns in Austin East’s 41-0 win over the Longhorns inside of George “Dusty” Lennon Stadium. It was the Longhorns’ fourth consecutive trip to the state playoffs and their second loss to A-E in three years. The Roadrunners eliminated the Horns 30-21 in the second round of the playoffs on Harold Arnold Field back in 2017. Foster made sure it wasn’t that close this time around. He rushed for 225 yards on only nine carries and completed 4-of-8 passes for 123 yards and two TDs. He averaged 25 yards per carry before leaving the game in the fourth quarter.
Hats off to the Longhorns Johnson County fought their tails off to stay in the game for nearly 15 minutes midway into the second quarter. They trailed after the first period 6-0 and could have made it interesting after driving down to the 12-yard line early in the second quarter. A touchdown-saving tackle by their two-time All-State defensive back Isaiah Ligon on Curtis Lowe kept them off the board; then, they were thrown for a six-yard loss that forced them into a field goal situation. Jared Kimble’s 32-yard attempt just missed, and the Roadrunners were off and running from that point. “I thought the boys played hard,” said Longhorns’ head coach Don Kerley. “We would have won our last two games had we came out and played like that. They’ve got three All-State Players (Foster, Ligon, and Keon Smith) that can do it all, and their team is well-coached. I appreciate all our seniors for what they have done for the program, and we’ll try and get better with the returning players. We just played a superior team tonight.”
JC’s Colt Moody (59) goes through a couple of Roadrunners to make the tackle on Julius Trice (21). Mood had four tackles in their 41-0 loss.
Mixing it up The Longhorns’ defense got a steady diet of Ligon on A-E’s first drive. The speedster had a 23-yard run before 20-yard touchdown scamper that made it 6-0 with 8:24 remaining in the opening frame. Johnson Count defense stiffened on A-E’s next possession and stopped them stone cold. The offense took over and came within 12 yards of reaching par dirt but got turned away. Curtis Lowe had two strong runs of 8 and 11 yards, and Sam Mann was able to gain 11 more. Thanks to Ligon’s tackle, they were turned away and never could recover from there. Foster took to the air on their next touchdown. He threw a 58-yard TD pass to Keon Smith then added a 43-yard yard touchdown pass to Kandell Robinson to make it 21-0 with 4:36 remaining in the half.
Putting on the finishing touches A-E’s Ligon recovered a fumble on Johnson County’s next possession, and Foster quickly turned it into a score. His 70-yard touchdown run with 1:08 remaining in the half gave them a 28-0 lead after the third extra point kicked by Ezzuldin Fawwaz. That’s where the score stood at halftime. It didn’t take long for Foster to add some finishing touches to start the third quarter. He broke loose on the first play of the second half for a 65-yard TD run to make it 35-0. From there, the clock would run continuously that shortened the game considerable. A-E’s last TD came on a 6-yard run by Chris Smith late in the fourth quarter. The Longhorns had the football for only 11 plays in the second half, four in the third quarter. They were able to muster only 13 yards of total offense in the final two quarters.
Stat Leaders Lowe played well his final game as a Longhorn. He carried the ball 15 times for 63 yards. Sam Mann added 20 yards on seven carries. Stacy Greer completed 2-of-2 pass for 17 yards but was sacked twice. The Longhorns finished the game with 130 yards of total offense. In addition to Foster, Ligon picked up 55 yards on seven carries. Smith caught two passes for 69 yards. Joseph Gambill led the Longhorns’ defense with seven stops. Nathan Mink added five tackles. Colt Moody and Logan Gilley were in on four apiece. The Longhorns finish the season at 4-7. Austin East (8-3) will play Gatlinburg-Pittman (8-2) at home next week. The Highlanders defeated Unicoi County 62-21 in their first-round playoff game at Erwin on Friday.
When you have an undefeated football team in 2017 and a sub-state basketball team the following year, you find a lot of special athletes in the mix. That was the case with Johnson County. The Longhorns might not be significant in school size, yet they are well represented within the college ranks in three sports. Blake Atwood, Nathan Arnold, and Shane Greer chose the route of basketball, football, and baseball to pursue at the next level. And they are representing their school well both on and off the playing fields and court. Atwood played his first two college basketball games this past week and found himself summoned to duty. His team went 2-0 while opening play against UVA Wise and Carson Newman in games played at Lees McCrae University. Atwood played 12 minutes in their 84-74 win over UVA Wise and scored six points. He was 2-of-4 from the field, and both were 3-pointers from long range. He increased his playing time to 16 minutes against the Eagles scoring seven points on 2-of-3 shooting, including a trey and 2-fo-3 from the foul line. Atwood will play at home against Shorter College on Saturday at 5 p.m. Nathan Arnold is a quarterback for the University of the Cumberland’s football team. They are currently 9-0 and will try to run the table on Saturday against unbeaten Lindsey Wilson College, who is also undefeated at 9-0. Arnold has played in two games, completing 2-of-4 passes for 45 yards. His longest completion was 28 yards, and he’s rushed the ball one time for seven yards. His team will play at home in Williamsburg, Kentucky, on Saturday at 1:30 PM. Shane Greer is awaiting the baseball season to begin that will kickoff for Milligan in early spring. Greer was a standout wide receiver on the 2017 squad that went 10-0 along with Arnold. He ended his career with over 2100 yards in receiving but also was an All-Conference baseball player when he led the team in hitting his senior season. He is an outfielder for the Buffaloes. We look forward to following their careers. Arnold is a redshirt freshman, and Atwood is a true freshman. Greer is entering his sophomore campaign.
The Longhorns could not wait to be let loose to the home crowd Friday night at JCMS. The boys were on fire from the very beginning and kept pounding the Mosheim Indians to the very end. The Longhorns strength and versatility helped control the game from the beginning. At the end of the first quarter, the Longhorns were up 13-6, but in the second quarter, this young team exploded on the court by taking advantage of the Indians’ weaknesses both offensively and defensively. The fast break was a favorite of Dalton Pope and Connor Stout, which helped stack up some points against the Indians. Connor Simcox was the gatekeeper for the Longhorn defense; the Indians just was no match for Simcox’ strength and height. Mosheim had no choice but to resort to outside shooting, which did not work in their favor. Johnson County’s defense was all over the Indians, and by the end of the first half, the Horns’ domination was in full winning mode with a score of 31-12. The Longhorns were impressive with their inside game, as well. Feeding the ball to Simcox was advantageous for the Horns. The Indians tried everything to stop the 6’1 center, but it was an impossible task. The second half of the game, the Indians had a brief gain of momentum, but the Longhorns quickly showed them they were not about to stop their attack, they had something to prove, and by the end of the game, they showed everyone they had what it takes to be a successful team. Coach Mark McClain was proud of how his team looked in their first home game of the season. The first-year coach for Johnson County appreciated the turnout for the game and felt his team” fed off of the crowd’s enthusiasm.” He knows there is work to be done though, “my guys played hard, but we have some areas we need to improve on.” Simcox also was happy about the win, “I’m glad we could win. It felt good for the home crowd.”
JCMS’ Dalton Pope (1) soars high for a layup against Cloudland. Pope scored 17 points and had eight steals in their 41-19 win. Photo by Tim Chambers.
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
Roan Mountain—The dynamic duo of Dalton Pope and Connor Simcox proved to be too much for Cloudland to handle on Monday night. Pope tossed in 17 points and gathered eight steals while Simcox amassed 23 rebounds and 11 points in their 41-19 win over the Highlanders in middle school basketball action inside of Sonny Smith Gymnasium. The varsity girls played a good first half but lost to undefeated Cloudland 41-21.
Boys Johnson County 41 Cloudland 19 The Longhorns got down early as Cloudland jumped out t to a 7-1 lead only to watch the Longhorns go an 8-0 run to close the quarter and lead 9-7. The big shot was a three-ball by James Potter that ignited the rally. The Highlanders tied the game at 9-9, but four straight points by Simcox and Baird and a jumper in the paint by Isaiah Fenner allowed the Horns to take a 21-11 halftime advantage. “I thought we were playing hard early, but we just couldn’t get a shot to fall,” said Longhorns’ head coach Mark McClain. “We got in our press and finally started getting some layups. I thought our kids did a good job of recovering from that.” The Longhorns begin to pull away in the third quarter by way of their defense. Baird converted a pair of steals into a layup, and George Grill scored on a runner to make it 27-13. Thanks to a pair of buckets on the inside by Simcox and Baird’s 15-foot jumper, the horn’s lead ballooned to 20 in the fourth quarter. “Our shots begin to fall in the second half, and we got some momentum and started building up the lead,” added McClain. “We put Dalton upfront on the press, and he gets a lot of his points off of steals. He’s a great leader and a good team player. Connor ruled the board, although some of those he missed and went and got it back. We’re working on putting the ball in the basket consistently, and when we can do that, we’ll become a very good basketball team.” Grill had four points and four assists to help the Longhorns’ cause. Potter had the three and Fenner to close out the Longhorns’ scoring with a deuce. Dylan McClellan led the Highlanders with nine points.
7th Grade Johnson County 26 Cloudland 16 Kyle Sluder and Eli Dickens scored eight points apiece while leading the Longhorns to victory in the seventh-grade contest. Chris Reece had a good game scoring five. Jace Stout and Zack Lunceford provided three points, respectively.
Girls Cloudland 42 Johnson County 21 The Highlanders were coming off a preseason tournament championship win over Liberty Bell and showed why they are considered to be the area’s top junior high girl’s team. But the Lady Longhorns didn’t back down and held their own for a half. The Highlanders jumped on top 12-4, but Sierra Green’s three-point play got the Horns back within five at 12-7. Sahara McKinney stretched it back to 16-7, including a nice little runner in the final seconds. Johnson County’s inability to score did them in the second quarter. They could muster only one field goal and trailed 29-9 at the half. The Longhorns didn’t hang their heads when they came back out to start the second half. They nearly played the Highlanders even, getting outscored by a slim 13-12 margin. Head coach Sarah Swift Jennings saw some positives from her team. “I was really proud of the way we played in the first quarter,” said Jennings. “We were beating their press and getting the ball up on our end but we got a little antsy turned it over a couple of times in the second quarter and then couldn’t hit our shots. But we handled the pressure much better than we have in the past, but these kids are trying hard to get better. We didn’t play well on Friday, but I was pleased tonight despite the loss. Cloudland has a very good team, but we didn’t quit in the second half.” Sierra Green scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Lady Horns. McKenzie Kelly added six points and five rebounds. Aubree Glenn’s total three points and Savanna Dowell collected two. McKinney had a game-high 16 points for the Highlanders. Ryan Turbyfill followed with nine points, and Isabelle Christian totaled seven points and ten rebounds. Bella Clawson was able to contribute five. The Longhorns will be back in action on Thursday at home against Unicoi County.