Late surge leads South past Lady Horns

The Lady Longhorns starters prepare for the opening tip versus South. The Horns led in the third quarter but ended up falling 51-40. Photos by Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers

KINGSPORT—Johnson County’s lack of offense once again was the primary factor in them falling to Sullivan South in their final regular season game. The second place Lady Rebels overcame a 24-22 third-quarter deficit to win going away 52-37 on senior night inside the Rebels Den.
It was a game between two teams going in different directions.
South won their sixth consecutive game to secure the second seed while the Lady Horns fell to 3-9 in league play after starting the season 2-0. They’ll enter the District tournament as the sixth seed.
Lady Longhorns’ head coach Leon Tolley agreed that it was frustrating to watch his team play so hard only to have a brief stretch where things fell apart. Four of their losses in league play came after leading in the third quarter.
“We’re up with the ball by two with 12 seconds to go before halftime and then turn it over twice and give up four points,” said Tolley. “Then our girls decide they want to start switching what we were doing on defense, but unfortunately they switched on the other team’s best shooter and left her open. Sadly this is a pattern that we have. We play our guts out, and then a two or three-minute stretch puts us behind the eight ball. We just can’t score enough points once we get behind. We’ve got to do a better job of valuing the basketball and knowing, who the other team’s best shooter is. The first minute of the fourth quarter did us in against Sullivan East, and a two-minute stretch did us in tonight.”
Tolley’s reference was right on the money.
An ill-advised pass in the closing seconds led to four quick points by South when his team should have had the halftime lead. Their second mistake was leaving Alex Harris wide open on three occasions, and each time she buried a three-ball. She added another one in the fourth quarter and was 5-of-7 from long range. All of her 15 points came from behind the three-point line.
“Harris kept us going,” said South’s Coach Terry Hutson. “She’s our shooter, and we’re pretty good when we can make shots. Johnson County’s is a scary team that plays hard. Their matchup zone is hard to figure out.”

Lady Horns get off to
a slow start
South used a three-point play by Carissa Comsa to open the game then led 8-2 in the early going. The Longhorns battled back with Taylor Cox swishing a three-ball and Emmy Miller scoring in the paint.
They trailed 10-8 going into the second quarter.
The second period was much better for the Horns up until the final seconds that Tolley touched on. Emmy Miller tied the game at ten all on a jumper then Cox would later put them in front 22-20 on her second three-ball of the quarter.
That’s when South regained the momentum by stealing a pair of baskets off of turnovers to end the half on top by two.
Longhorns’ lead would soon disappear
Johnson County would battle back in the third quarter to take the lead on two separate occasions. Rhiannon Icenhour put them up 20-18 with a strong move in the paint while Cox made it 24-22 with a nice runner off the left side with 3:09 remaining in the frame.
That’s when Harris found a way to get open and drain three straight treys to put South in front to stay 31-24.
Johnson County used a pair of trifecta’s from Natalie Winters and Cox to get within three at 33-30, but they couldn’t defend the three-ball.
The dagger came when Mollie Leslie’s sank their fourth one of the quarter to put the Lady Rebels up 36-30. That woke up Leslie who was honored before the game for scoring her 1,000th career point.
She tacked on eight of her 15 total in the fourth quarter that prevented any chance of a Johnson County comeback.
Harris and Leslie scored 15 points apiece while Cosma added seven.
Cox matched their output with 15 points, and Miller added six points, and eight rebounds but the Horns got only eight total points from their remaining starters. Icenhour contributed five points and five rebounds off the bench. Winters dished out four assists to lead the Horns in that department.
The Longhorns played their third consecutive game without their second-leading scorer and leading rebounder Taylor Parsons. She will likely return in time for Wednesday’s tournament game.
The Horns finished the regular season at 13-14 overall. South stands at 18-10 and 8-4 in league play.
JCHS 8 12 10 7 -37
Sulllivan S. 10 12 14 16 -43

Longhorns pound Patriots

JC’s Zack Eller (5) attempts to score over East’s Mason Johnson (44). The “bandit” had seven
steals in their 74-60 win. Photo by Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers

Johnson County needed a win to keep pace with Elizabethton for the Three Rivers Conference championship, and their opponent was no pushover. The Longhorns had to fight and claw their way against Sullivan East but finally came away with a 74-60 home win.
It was the perfect setting inside of a jam-packed Ray Shoun Gymnasium when the two teams prepared for battle on Coach Austin Atwood Court.
The Horns led 16-12 after one and held a 40-33 halftime advantage. The majority of the damage came from long range as Gavin Reece and Blake Atwood combined to hit seven treys.
Atwood had 15 points by intermission, and Reece added 12, all from behind the three-point arc on 4-of-4 shooting.
Head coach Austin Atwood pointed to his team ’s toughness as a key to their win.
That’s the toughest that I’ve ever seen our guys play, said Atwood. “We’ve got to get better finishing drives after teams make contact with us. Blake had 36 and could have had 46 if he finishes three or four of those drives. I thought our quickness was a key down the stretch and the three’s that Gavin Reece hit in the second quarter were huge. We didn’t play great, but we found a way to play through a couple of those struggles. Zach Eller had a great defensive game, and Lucas Phillips ran the floor well to get us some easy baskets. I can’t say enough of how proud I was for the way that Troy Arnold battled Davis on the board. He’s eight inches shorter, but he plays with a ton of heart. You can’t measure with a stat how much he means to our team.”
East pecks away at the deficit
The Patriots used some red-hot shooting from Trey Lowe to get back in the game during the third quarter. Hs three-ball cut what once was a 12-point advantage down to one at 45-44 capping off a 9-0 Patriots run.
Dylan Bartley would tie the game at 46 all with a basket, but the Horns closed the period getting deuces from Michael Oxentine and Atwood to lead 50-46 going into the fourth.
Horns hang on for the win
The game became a slugfest with Johnson County landing the most punches down the stretch. Atwood scored 15 points in the final eight minutes including 7-of-8 from the foul line.
The Horns provided fans with a textbook fast break to go up by ten that sealed the deal. Atwood grabbed a rebound then passed it to Eller who hit a streaking Phillips underneath for a layup without the ball ever touching the floor.
East sliced it back to five, but Atwood and Reece got it back over double digits by knocking down some clutch free throws along with Phillips.
Atwood had a monster game amassing 36 points and ten rebounds. Reece added 14 points, and Phillips contributed 12. Eller ended the game with seven steals, and Reece dished out four assists. Arnold and Phillips grabbed six rebounds apiece.
Lowe topped the Patriots with 16. Davis and Dylan Bartley tallied 12 points
each. Davis also led the
Pats in rebounding with 12. Adam Dawson just missed double figures with nine points.
Reece said the Horns still have a lot to prove.
“Nobody gave us a chance to win the league in the preseason,” said Reece. “They picked us to finish fifth and no higher than fourth. We want to prove everyone wrong because we’ve got a good basketball team. We’ve all played together for years.”

SULLIVAN EAST (60)
Lowe 15, Davis 12, Dy. Bartley 12, Du. Bartley 7, Dawson 9, Hare 3, Johnson 2.

JOHNSON CO. (74)
Atwood 36, Reece 14, Phillips 12, Eller 4, Arnold 2, Oxentine 6, Cross 0

Sulivan E. 12 21 13 14 -60
JCHS 16 24 10 24 -74
3-point goals—SE 8 (Lowe 3, Dawson 2, Hare 1, Dy. Bartley 1, Du. Bartley 1) JC 10 (Atwood 4, Reece 4, Philips 2)

Patriots rally past Lady Longhorns

JC’s Rhiannon Icenhour puts up a shot in the 1st quarter vs. East. Icenhour played well in a reserve role, but the Horns lost 51-40. Photo by Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers

Johnson County played dead even with Sullivan East for three quarters before their ship sank during the final stanza. The Patriots outscored them 22-11 in the final period to earn a 51-40 Three Rivers Conference victory inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium.
The Pats led 8-7 after one and 22-20 at the half.
The Longhorns held a two-point advantage twice in the game. The first one came after Natalie Winters hit a three to put them on top 12-10, but that was quickly erased.
Rhiannon Icenhour’s basket gave them a 29-27 lead late in the third quarter, but East pulled even heading into the fourth.
Fourth quarter one-minute meltdown
The Patriots opened the final quarter with a three-point play by Haley Grubb to go up by three. Kylee Wolfe’s three-ball and another runner by Grubb capped off an 8-0 run that took 52 seconds.
A couple of buckets by Taylor Cox would get the Horns back within five with 2:14 remaining, but they couldn’t muster enough offense down the stretch to overtake the Lady Pats. East made up the difference at the foul line.
Emmy Miller led the Longhorns with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Cox added 12 points and nine boards with Winters providing six points and three assists. Abby Cornett hit a three-ball and collected three steals for the girls.
Grubb tallied a game-high 18 points for the Patriots. Wolfe finished with 13 while Riley Johnson tossed in nine.
Tolley pointed to the 8-0 run as being the difference in the game.
“Mentally we lost our focus for a minute to start the fourth quarter, and in doing so we lost the game,” said Tolley. “We didn’t do a good job of sharing the ball on offense, and we quit communicating on defense. We’re having a hard time of keeping our focus for 32 minutes, and tonight it showed. The team in red (East) is a good team, but they didn’t beat us. We, the team in white beat us tonight.”

SULLIVAN EAST (51)
Grubb 18, Wolfe 12, Nelson 9, Honaker 6, Brinkman 3, Aubrey 3.

JOHNSON COUNTY (40)
Cox 12, Miller 14, Winters 6, Kleine 2, Stout 0, Cornett 4, Icenhour 2.

Sullivan E. 8 14 7 22 -51
JCHS 7 13 9 11 -40
3-point goals—SE 4 (Wolfe 3, Aubrey 1) JC 2 (Cornett 2, Cox 1).

Horns claim a pair of wins on senior night

JC’s Sadie Stout (23) drives for 2 points against KACHEA. Stout scored an even dozen in their 62-18 win. Photo by Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers

Johnson County was a little rough around the edges on senior night but still managed to log another victory. The No. 10 ranked Longhorns ran their season record to 23-4 by knocking off KACHEA 72-56 in boys’ game.
The Lady Longhorns ran roughshod past the Lady Wildcats 61-18.

Boys
Johnson County 72
KACHEA 56
The Longhorns started the game without Class AA Mr. Basketball Finalist Blake Atwood on the court as their remaining five seniors took the floor first against the Wildcats.
The Horns got off to a good start with Zach Eller scoring four quick points while Gavin Reece and Lucas Phillips added a three-ball each to put them in front 10-2.
Atwood entered the game and recorded eight consecutive points, and Michael Oxentine provided a three-point play giving the Horns a comfortable 22-2 advantage.
The Horns led 24-5 after one thanks to Eller’s 15-foot jumper at the buzzer.

Every senior would
score in the game
It was a special night for seniors ZacK Winters and Luke Rash. Both were starting their first game ever for the Horns and they each racked up a considerable amount of playing time.
Rash brought the crowd to its feet by knocking scoring in the paint on their first possession in the second quarter while Winters delighted them with a long three-ball from the corner that made it 31-10.
Senior guard Gavin Reece once again played lights out. He had a pair of threes in the first half and was 4-of-4 from long distance. He along with Eller and Atwood all had scored in double figures before halftime as the Horns led 45-24 at intermission.

Horns hold off
a determined
KACHEA squad
The game was a good tune-up for Johnson County as KACHEA had played several teams close on their schedule. Jeffery Hicks and Will Joiner proved they could play with anyone totaling 20 and 13 points respectively. Chris Strickland also provided nine including seven in the final quarter complimenting Hicks’ eight fourth-quarter points.
Atwood totaled nine points in the third quarter before leaving the game for good. The only starting to score in the fourth quarter for the Longhorns was Troy Arnold who brought the crowd to its feet one last time by sinking a three-ball from the corner.
Freshman Zack Parsons came on to score a basket for the Horns in the fourth as reserves flooded the floor during the final eight minutes.
Atwood finished the night with 21 points and five rebounds in limited play. Reece added 14 points, and five assists as Eller contributed 10 points, four assists, and three steals. Arnold collected five points and a game-high nine rebounds.
Atwood praised the play of his seniors.
“We didn’t play at the level I wanted us to, but those kids deserved to play,” said Atwood. “I thought we did some good things and those kids who don’t ever get much playing time hustled their tails off. This was a tune-up game for us to get ready for South and the District Tournament. I appreciate each one of our senior players. You couldn’t ask for any better kids to coach than them.”

Girls Game
Johnson County 62
KACHEA 18
The Lady Longhorns quickly erased a 4-3 deficit by going on a 21-2 run to end the first quarter with a 24-6 advantage. They put up another 24
points in the second quarter to build a 48-14 halftime advantage.
“We did want we were supposed to do and came out ready to play,” said head coach Leon Tolley. “We wanted to get off to a good start and rest a lot of players, and we did that. It’s good for team morale to see the others get playing time. These three game weeks are tough, so we told them at halftime that we would be playing a lot of reserves. It was good seeing everyone get some varsity experience.”
All the Lady Longhorns starters were on the bench after they stretched their lead out to 57-14 during the third stanza. The second unit got plenty of floor time in the fourth with Jacey Eshelman and Tiffany Price scoring along with Rhiannon Icenhour who swished a three-ball.
Taylor Cox scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Longhorns. Sadie Stout
added 12 points and five rebounds.
Hazlee Kleine enjoyed her best game as a Longhorn with a career-high 14 points and 12 rebounds. Natalie Winters amassed a game-high seven assists, and Emmy Miller collected nine rebounds.
Emma Morelock led KACHEA with eight points.
The Longhorns didn’t have a senior on their roster as the lineup consisted of three juniors and two sophomores. The entire team will return next year along with last year’s leading scorer Adrian Hall.
Boys Game:
JCHS (72)
Atwood 21, Reece 14, Eller 10, Phillips 7, Arnold 5, Oxentine 5, Winters 2, Rash 2, Cross 2, Parsons 2, Neely 0, Cunningham 0.

KACHEA (56)
Hicks 20, W. Joiner 13, Strickland 9, J. Reece 6, C. Joiner 3, Philips 2, C. Reece 3

KACHEA 5 19 11 21 -56
JCHS 24 21 18 9 -72
3-point goals KACHEA 2 (Joiner 1, C. Reece 1) JC 7 (Reece 3, Atwood 1, Arnold 1, Phillips 1, Winters 1).

Girls Game:
JCHS (62)
Cox 21, Kleine 14, Stout 12, Miller 2, Winters 2, Icenhour 5, Eshelman 3, Price 2, Cornett 1

KACHEA (18)
Morelock 8, Horner 6, Bagard 4, McReynolds 0, Strickland 0, Sheets 0.

KACHEA 6 8 0 4 -18
JCHS 24 24 9 5 -62
3-point goals—KACHEA 0 JC 6 (Cox 4, Stout 2)

Lady Longhorns hold off Warriors

Players are focused while a huge crowd watches the showdown between Johnson County and Happy Valley last Friday night. The Lady Horns defeated the Warriors in a close game, that pushed both teams to the final seconds. Photos by Tamas Mondovics

By Tim Chambers

It wasn’t D-day back on January 8, but the Lady Longhorns did suffer their worst loss of the season to Happy Valley on that date. The 61-36 shellacking left a bad taste in their mouths.
On Friday they broke out the breath mints, erased the bad taste, and then celebrated a stunning 44-41 win over the Warriors on what is now known as Coach Austin Atwood Court.
The Lady Longhorns did so in roller coaster fashion. They were able to build a 13-point lead midway through the third quarter only to watch the Valley rally and lead by three late in the fourth.
They were also without their second-leading scorer and rebounder Taylor Parsons who was sick and could not play. Head coach Leon Tolley liked what he saw out of his “refuse to lose Lady Longhorns.” It was a gusty effort according to him.
“Everyone knew they had to do a little extra tonight with Taylor out,” said Tolley. “Sometimes adversity can cause players to elevate their game a little bit, and that could have been the case tonight. I thought they took the fight to us when we played them down there, but tonight I felt like we were the aggressor for three out of the four quarters. We needed this win in the worst way.”

Lady Longhorn enjoy strong second quarter
Neither team could generate much offense in the first quarter as the score was tied 6-6 after one. The second quarter was a different story.
Happy Valley scored their first five points in the frame and went on top 11-6, but the Horns would quickly recover.
They went on a 12-2 run sparked by five points from Taylor Cox, a long three by Sadie Stout and four Emmy Miller free throws that put them on top 18-13.
Cox closed out the quarter by swishing another three-ball at the buzzer, and Johnson County led 24-14 at the half. She didn’t score in the first quarter.
“Coach Tolley kept telling me to shoot and not hesitate,” said Cox. “We were confident coming into the game, and we didn’t forget what happened down there. We had to play extra hard with Taylor out, and we did so. We wanted to win this one for her.”
The Lady Horns were outscored 16-5 in the third quarter, and Sadie Stout had all five. The Warriors held a 30-29 lead going into the final stanza that set the stage for one wild finish.

Horns hang on
like Snoopy
The game see-sawed back and forth until Adrienne Henegar’s three-ball put the Warriors on top 37-34 with 3:44 remaining but their lead was short-lived.
Miller converted a couple of charity tosses, and Cox added two baskets that put the Horns in front to stay at 40-39 at the 1:56 mark. Key free throws by Stout and one from Cox in the final 40 seconds gave them a 44-41 lead.
Henegar tried to get off desperation three in the final seconds but Abby Cornett shut that down with a nice defensive play, and the Horns walked away with the victory.

Stat leaders
Stout led the Lady Longhorns with 16 points. She said her team came in focused on what they had to do to win.
“We knew with Taylor out that we had to rebound because of their size,” said Stout. “We wanted this game really bad because we felt like they rubbed it in our faces down there. We didn’t want to let that
Happen again up here at our place.”
Cox aided the win with 13 points and seven rebounds. Miller had a big night scoring 11 points and grabbing six boards. Natalie Winters had five assists including two down the stretch in the fourth quarter. Rhiannon Icenhour came off the bench to grab seven rebounds, and Hazlee Kleine added five boards. Their play was crucial according to Winters.
“I felt like we got some good play off the bench from Abby, Rhiannon and Jacey Eshelman,” said Winters. “The defensive job Abby has done on Henegar at the end was crucial, and Rhiannon did a great job of rebounding, and so did Hazlee. We couldn’t have won this game without that.”
Icenhour had seven big rebounds off the bench, and Kleine provided five against Happy Valley’s 6’1 center Sha Whitson who finished with 19 points.
Tolley praised Whitson and applauded his squad.
“You’re not going to stop Whitson because she is such a good player,” added Tolley. “I thought we got a lot of effort from our kids on the defensive end. We aimed to make them shoot twos because they are such a good three-point shooting team with Henegar. I was happy with the way our kids played for three-quarters tonight.”
The Horns are now 3-7 in league play and 11-12 overall.

JCHS 44, Happy Valley 41

JOHNSON COUNTY (44)
Stout 16, Cox 13, Miller 11, Winters 2, Icenhour 2, Kleine 0, Cornett 0, Eshelman 0
3-point goals—JC 4 (Stout 3, Cox 1) HV 1 (Long 1)

Longhorns bombard Sullivan Central Cougars

 

By Tim Chambers

BLOUNTVILLE—No two-dollar pistol or flaming fire could be any hotter than what Johnson County is right now. The Longhorns ran their winning streak to 16 games by trouncing Sullivan Central 75-45 inside the Dickie Warren Dome on Monday.
The win kept the Horns (8-1, 20-4) in a first-place tie with Elizabethton in the Three Rivers Conference standings with three conference games remaining. It also pretty much assures them one of the top two seeds in District tournament play and an automatic berth into the 1-AA regional tournament.
“It’s always big when you can come on the road and win a conference game,” said JCHS’ head coach Austin Atwood. “Our boys are playing at a high level right now. They all know their role and some roles are bigger than others, but all of them are important. We can’t afford to lose anyone because it will be costly. We saw what happened when we lost Gavin during that stretch with a sprained ankle. We have to keep everyone healthy and playing hard. This group defines what a team is.”
Johnson County’s last loss came at home on November 30 when they fell to Elizabethton 71-59, and they were without starting guard Gavin Reece. Their other losses were to AAA icons Dobyns-Bennett, Science Hill and Sunland Baptist Academy out of the Bahamas.

Horns start slow, but find their groove
Things didn’t look good in the early going for the Horns. They fell behind 11-6 before Atwood signaled for a timeout.
Whatever was said did the trick because Reece and Lucas Phillips hit back-to-back treys that would trigger a 21-4 run before the first half ended.
The senior duo of Blake Atwood and Zach Eller had a lot to do with that. They combined for 15 points during that stretch run, and the Horns were able to take a 34-20 half time advantage.
“Blake let the game come to him, and he didn’t take bad shots,” added Coach Atwood. Zach was causing their guards trouble with his quickness, and everyone was playing hard. We made better cuts on the offensive during the run, and we didn’t settle for a lot of outside shots. I thought we hurt them with our quickness in the paint. We were able to get some easy baskets.”

Atwood produces and so does his supporting cast
Atwood scored a game-high 25 points and also contributed five assists, five rebounds, and two steals. He tallied 12 points in the paint and ten came from the foul line.
“He does a lot for this basketball team,” said Coach Atwood. “He’s like having a coach on the floor. Tonight he let the game come to him and didn’t take bad shots. I thought our shot selection was good across the board. We got everyone involved.”
Central was without their head coach Derek McGhee who out serving a two-game suspension. Assistant coach Brian Barbour took over that role.
“We tried to keep Atwood out of the paint because he’s outstanding when he gets the ball there but couldn’t. He made some hard contested shots that hurt us. I thought they all shot the ball well. They played harder than we did during that one stretch and we never recovered.”
Phillips had a big night with 14 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Eller cashed in on 13 points, and three steals and Troy Arnold once again was solid with seven points and six boards. Reece played almost the entire game without committing a turnover and scored five points. Michael Oxentine made a sizable contribution scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds.
Trey Rosenbalm and Ben Williams led the Cougars with 12 and 11 points. It
was Central’s sixth league loss in their last seven games after starting the season
3-0.
Johnson County will host Happy Valley on Friday. Coach Atwood will be honored for collecting his 300th win earlier against Sullivan South.

Johnson Co. 13 21 19 22 -75
Sullivan C. 11 9 11 14 -45

3-point goals—JC 8 (Eller 2, Phillips 2, Atwood 1, Reece 1, Arnold 1, Winters 1). SC 3 (Rose 2, Williams 1)

Longhorns honor Atwood with win

Johnson County Longhorns Lucas Phillips (12) fights his way to the basket through an
impressive Happy Valley defense. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

Johnson County 61, Happy Valley 50

By Tim Chambers

Fans and former players packed Ray Shoun Gymnasium on Friday night to see Coach Austin Atwood earn the highest honor ever given to him. They also saw the Longhorns christen what now known as Coach Austin Atwood Court with a hard-fought 61-50 victory.
It was a night where the basketball game played second fiddle to this historic event of naming the court in Atwood’s honor, but it was also a game that his team needed to remain in a tie for first place.
The Horns appeared as if they would blow the Valley out of the gym in the first quarter. They quickly grabbed a 15-5 lead getting key baskets by Blake Atwood, Zach Eller and Lucas Philips that sparked a 13-3 run after the game was tied at 2-2.
But the Valley switched to a zone defense and Johnson County began misfiring on their outside shots. Coach Atwood touched on the move.
“I wish in hindsight that I would have pulled the ball back and made them come out and play us man when we got up by 10,” said Atwood. “I figured they would start out in a zone. The plan was to pull the ball out if we got up by 10, but we didn’t, and that’s my fault. We didn’t close the game as we should have and we shot the ball terrible. We missed a lot of point-blank shots that we always make and everything that was going on probably got us off track a little bit too. Give them credit because they took the fight to us and never quit.”

Horns cool off after fast start
The Warriors begin to peck away at the deficit with a five-point outburst from Noah Stevens. Troy Arnold gave the Horns a 17-10 lead with a baseline jumper, but a three-point play by Bryce Carter edged the Valley closer at 17-13 heading into the second quarter.
The Longhorns went ice cold from the field in the second period missing six consecutive shot that enabled Happy Valley to grab the lead. A three-ball by Stevens put them on top 25-23 and Cater extended it with a baby hook in the paint.
Atwood stopped the run with a late three-point play, but they Horns trailed 28-27 at the half.

Reece keeps the Horns afloat in the third
The game swayed back-and-forth like a pendulum on a grandfather clock until Gavin Reece drained a pair of treys that gave the Horns a 39-32 advantage midway in the third quarter.
Happy Valley answered with another trey by Stevens and a three-point play from Dakota Cochran to get within one at 41-40 going into the final quarter. But the momentum shifted in favor of the Horns after Happy Valley’s last lead of 44-43 with 7:00 remaining.

Fourth quarter fury
Eller’s three-ball from the corner gave the Horns a 46-44 lead that they would never relinquish with 6:34 left in the game. The Horns did most of their damage scoring from the foul line where they converted 11-of-14 in the quarter.
Atwood finished with a game-high 26 points, 11 rebounds, five steals and five assists. He felt like it was hard to stay focused with everything that was going on before the game.
“It was a huge win for us because there were a lot of distractions before the game,” said the player Atwood. “I’m so happy to be a part of playing in the game on the night where they name the court after my dad. We needed this game to remain tied for first place in our league. We didn’t play as well as we should have and we struggled some until the fourth quarter. We dug deep and closed it out down the stretch.”
Eller added 14 points and three steals, while Reece contributed six points and three assists. Arnold also had six points and six rebounds.
“They match up pretty good with us,” said Eller. “We play better against a man defense, but we usually play pretty well against the zone too. Coach got us together in the fourth quarter and told us to settle down and play like we were capable. It was the first time we had played a game since being ranked 10th in the state. We have to be ready now because other teams want to knock you off.”
Carter had 15 points and eight rebounds to lead the Warriors. Stevens also tallied 15 points including three treys.
Johnson County (9-1, 21-4) stayed within a half-game of Elizabethton (10-1, 18-5) in the Three Rivers Conference. They can clinch a berth into the regional tournament by defeating Sullivan East at home on Tuesday. But Coach Atwood knows his team has to play one game at a time in order to finish in a first-place tie with Elizabethton.
“I told our guys that I’d had a lot of teams that have played well and lost but very seldom do you have a team that can play this bad and win. We had been playing at a high level over the past several games, so we just have to step back and regroup. We’ve got a good Sullivan East team coming in here on Tuesday, and it’s always tough to beat a John Dyer coached team. We then go to South on Friday, and they are capable of beating any team in our league. We can’t play like we did tonight and win. We got to come out ready to play. This team has a lot left to play for.”

Johnson County Longhorns hold off Highlanders 69-63

Longhorns’ Lucas Phillips (12) hits a shot as Cloudland’s Conner Birchfield (2 )defends. Phillips tallied 9 points in their 69-63 win. Photo By Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers

ROAN MTN.—Many teams have gone into Sonny Smith Gymnasium and not came away with a win. Johnson County didn’t want to be one of them.
The Highlanders put up a good fight, but the Horns held on for a 69-63 win on Tuesday.
It was a tough battle according to head coach Austin Atwood.
“You have to credit Cloudland and Coach Gary Harrison,” for the way his kids battled,” said Atwood. “We played hard, but they did too. I’ve brought some good team in here over the years and not been able to win. We played hard, so we’re happy to leave here with a victory.”
The Highlanders held a slim 16-15 lead after one but would increase their lead in the second quarter.
Blake Atwood scored a dozen points in the frame after hitting for a half dozen in the first quarter. He converted a three-point play late in the quarter after starting the frame with a three-ball. Lucas Phillips helped the cause by draining a trifecta at the buzzer.
Johnson County held a 36-31 halftime advantage.
Defensive-minded Horns steal the momentum
It was the Longhorns’ defense that turned the tables in the third quarter. They held Cloudland to six points in the frame and only two field goals.
The Landers were able to grab the momentum thanks to another strong quarter from Atwood. He lit it up for 14 points in the frame but didn’t score in the fourth quarter.
The Horns held a commanding 54-37 going into the final stanza, but Cloudland wouldn’t go away.
The Highlanders carved into the deficit and got it down to eight but a three-ball by Zack Eller extended the lead back to double digits.
The Horns got sloppy with the basketball over the final three minutes, and Atwood fouled out that added to their woes.
Eller and Troy Arnold hit their free throws down the stretch to prevent any chance of a Highlanders’ upset.
The final score was the closest they got.

Atwood and Eller lead the way
Atwood fired in 32 points to lead the Longhorns while Eller added 15 points. Arnold was the third Longhorn in double figures with ten while Lucas Phillips just missed the mark with nine.
Robert Leeper had a big game for the Highlanders with 20 points while Hunter Shell cashed in with 11 that including three treys. Josh Blair and Dillon Johnson provided nine and eight points respectively.
The Horns are now 19-4 on the season and were set to try and make it 20 on
Friday verses Unicoi County at home.

JOHNSON CO. (69)
Atwood 32, Eller 15, Arnold 10, Phillips 9, Reece 3, Oxentine 0, Cross 0, Cunningham 0.

CLOUDLAND (63)
Leeper 20, Shell 11, Blair 9, Johnson 8, Birchfield 7, Lacey 5, Coffey 2

Longhorns romp Rangers

JC’s Gavin Reece launches a shot against Rangers. Reece had
four assists and three steals in their 66-49 win.
By Tameula Trivett.

By Tim Chambers

Johnson County did quick work of Unaka inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium on Monday. The Horns cruised to a 66-49 win behind 24 points from Blake Atwood.
They build a 15-8 lead after one and led 33-19 at the half.
It was a game where the Horns simply went through the motions, which did set well with head, coach Austin Atwood. He let them know about it at halftime.
“We didn’t play with the effort and heart like we’ve been playing and that’s not us,” said Atwood. “We challenged them at halftime to come out and make a statement. They got back to playing for one another in the third quarter.”

Horns blow the doors off
They began the third quarter scoring points in groves. Atwood scored nine points in the quarter, and Lucas Phillips provided eight. Five points off the bench by Clayton Cross including a trey would up their advantage at 57-33 going into the final quarter.
Reserves got most of the action over the final six minutes.
Phillips complimented Atwood’s two-dozen points with 14. Troy Arnold was a beast bagging 11 points and ten rebounds for the victorious Longhorns.
John Ramsey and Isaac Hill had 12 points apiece for the Rangers.

Unaka 8 11 14 16 -49
JCHS 15 18 24 9 -66

Lady Horns outlast Unaka

JC’s Sadie Stout (23) fires up a shot versus Unaka. Stout scored 9 points in their 62-60 win over the Lady Rangers. Photo by Tameula Trivett

By Tim Chambers

The Lady Longhorns went into battle on Monday with their head coach Leon Tolley sick in his office and unable to coach. That’s when they decided to “win one for the Gipper.”
Johnson County used a well-balanced scoring attack to knock off Unaka in overtime 62-60 before a large crowd inside of Sonny Smith Gymnasium. The Rangers came into the game tied for first place in the Watauga Valley Conference and had beaten them soundly at home.
This time they couldn’t duplicate that feat.
Assistant Coach Kechia Eller and Garry Smith filled in for Tolley on the bench. Eller loved what she saw for the girls.
“I thought we might be able to get a big lead the way that
we were playing in the first half,” said Eller. “But then we let them
let them back in the game and had to really battle them to the very end. I told our girls that we needed grit and toughness out on the floor and they responded by showing us that. This was a win we needed because we got behind near the end but came back. The girls want to be a family and tonight they played for one another. That was good to see along with our ball movement and defense.”

Horns spring out of
the gate strong
The Horns got seven points from Sadie Stout and a pair of fields goals by Emmy Miller to open and close the quarter and led 17-13 after one. That’s when the Rangers went to their equalizer (6’2, senior), Myah Parlier.
The senior who has already sighed with Bryan University scored nine points in the quarter with all of them coming at close range. The game was tied at 23 all, but Taylor Cox bagged a three-ball that pushed the Horns back on top.
A late basket in the
closing seconds allowed Johnson County to take a 30-26 halftime advantage
. And the third quarter was no different than the first two.
Refusing to lose
Each team tried to land a blow that would gain them some separation, but that wasn’t to be. Cox hit a three, and Natalie Winters added a deuce that gave the Horns a 42-33 lead by a deuce by Jada Whitehead and Madison Pierce’s trey in the final seconds reduced the deficit at 42-38 going into the final frame.
The Rangers had no defense for stopping Parlier who ended the night with 33 points and 15 rebounds. They did, however, have a formula as to how they could win the game.
The Rangers led 50-44 with a minute left but couldn’t cash in on some free throws. Abby Cornett got the ball rolling with a huge trey and Miller drained another three-ball that left them trailing 53-51 with 42 seconds remaining.
The Rangers went to the line again but missed a pair with 17 seconds remaining. Johnson County put the ball in the hands of Winters who was fouled 11 seconds remaining. She sank both tosses that sent the game into overtime.

Refusing to lose Part 2
The Longhorns were able to retake the lead on a basket by Hazlee Kleine, but the Rangers refused to roll over. Parlier added another basket in the paint that put them back on top 58-56.
Taylor Parsons tied the game at 58 all by sinking a jumper then added another one that got them back on top 60-58 with less than a minute remaining.
Winters gave them the insurance they needed with a pair of free throws with 3.2 seconds remaining to make it 62-58. The Rangers hit a goal at the buzzer that reflected the final score.
Cox led their well-balanced scoring attack with
19 points, while Winters added 10 points and three assists.
Miller and Stout provided nine points each, with Parsons collecting eight points and six rebounds. Miller also contributed four assists.
Cornett followed up with five points off the bench.
Coach Tolley had this to say after the game while trying not to stay hidden from his team to keep them from catching what he had.
“I knew the best thing that I could do was stay away from them,” said Tolley. They were in great hands with Kechia and Coach Gary Smith. I’m very proud of each player and coach for the way they stepped up and won here tonight.”
Unaka’s head coach Kenneth Chambers was gracious in defeat.
“We played pretty well, but you can’t miss free throws like we did down the stretch and beat a good team like Johnson County. We were our own worst enemy.”

Unaka 16 13 9 12 7 -60
JCHS 17 12 12 11 9 -62
3-point goals—Unaka 4 (Pierce 2, Forney 1, Grindstaff 1) JC 5 (Cox 2, Winters 1, Miller 1, Cornett 1)

Cyclones nip Lady Horns in overtime

JC’s Taylor Parsons eyes the basket with Betsy’s Morgan Headrick (21) looking on. Parsons had 11 points and ten rebounds in their 55-54 overtime loss.
Photo by Tim Chambers.

By Tim Chambers

ELIZABETHTON—The Lady Longhorns were within nine seconds of earning another win over Elizabethton but got “Shell-shocked” in the end. Kaylen Shell drove the length of the court and bank in a floating 5-footer with 02 seconds remaining to help the Cyclones earn a dramatic 55-54 overtime win.
A large crowd was on the edge of their seats inside of Treadway Gymnasium witness the event. Johnson County held a 49-45 lead in the fourth quarter with 1:07 seconds remaining only to see the Cyclones close regulation on a 4-0 run.
Shell’s heroics came after Taylor Cox had put Johnson County up 54-53 on a runner in the paint with 9.5 seconds remaining.
Head coach Leon Tolley was still proud of his Lady Longhorns.
“A couple of them got their wires crossed there at the end, but it shouldn’t have come down to that,” said Tolley. “I should have put Abby Cornett, our best on-ball defender in the game and didn’t. I couldn’t be any more proud of them because we played as a team and we played together for the first time in weeks. We played shorthanded without Hazlee Kleine, and Emmy Miller was sick but tried to play. We got some good minutes from Rhiannon Icenhour, and Jacey Eshelman and our kids played their hearts out, and they played for one another. Hopefully, this is the way it’s going to be all the time.”

Slugfest first half
Neither team could land the fatal blow during the first half. The Cyclones led 9-7 after one and 21-18 at halftime.
The Horns got seven points by Sadie Stout and six more from Taylor Cox to stay in the hunt during the first two quarters. Shell and Abby Townsend had six each for the Cyclones, but the Horns would get the upper hand in the third.
The Longhorns begin to whittle away at the deficit and finally took the lead on two free throws by Taylor Parsons at 29-28. Stout recorded six in the frame while Parsons added five giving the Longhorns a 37-34 lead heading into the fourth.

The tide turns
on the Horns
It appeared as if the Horns would hang on for the win after Cox hit six consecutive points that gave Johnson County a 49-45 advantage with 1:07 remaining. The Cyclones found new life when Headrick tied the game by sinking two free throws with 32 seconds remaining sending the game into overtime.
Parsons canned a trey, giving Johnson County a 52-51 advantage but Townsend answered with a deuce putting Betsy back in front.
Cox looked to have the game-winner when she sank a runner with 09 seconds left, but Shell drove the floor and kissed one off the glass giving Elizabethton the win.
“We wanted to get to the rim,” said Cyclones head coach Lucas Andrews on Shell’s clutch shot at the
end. “We just wanted to
get there and see if we could get a good shot or rebound a miss.”
Cox and Stout led the Longhorns with 16 points each. Parsons added a double-double, 11 points, and ten rebounds. Miller gathered six boards.
Headrick scored a game-high 20 points and had nine rebounds for the Cyclones. Shell provided 16 points, four steals, and five boards.
Johnson County is now 8-10 overall and 2-5 in the conference. Elizabethton stands at 3-12 overall and 2-5 in league play.

Johnson Co. 7 11 19 12 0 -54
Elizabethton 9 12 13 15 6 -55

Horns vanquish Cyclones

By Tim Chambers

ELIZABETHTON—Trying to run with the “Big Dog” was no easy feat for the Longhorns but they made their way on the front porch with a stunning victory. A determined Johnson County squad just refused to lose in their 61-55 victory before a capacity crowd inside of Treadway Gymnasium.
The win put Johnson County in a first-place tie with Betsy and avenged an early loss, which came without starting guard Gavin Reece. It was the second consecutive win in as many years on the Cyclones’ home court for the Horns.
Head coach Austin Atwood knew that this one had a lot riding on it.
“I thought that Zack’s defense was outstanding and Blake did a good job on Wilson after the half,” said Atwood. Gavin and Lucas hit some clutch threes, and Troy did a great job on Everett inside.”

Large leads were nowhere
to be found
The Longhorns held a slim 12-11 lead after one thanks to five points each from Lucas Phillips and Blake Atwood and maintained their one point-advantage at halftime.
Atwood had 11 points at the half as did the Cyclones’ senior standout Eric Wilson. Lees McRae University’s head coach Steve Hardin was on hand to watch both players in action.
“Wilson is as good as there is in East Tennessee,” added Atwood. “Blake did a good job of denying him the ball in the second half. We had to try and slow him down. It’s not just one or two players for us. Our kids know their roles. We’ve got good chemistry with this group. They are a lot of fun to coach.”
Eller’s steal and Phillips’ clutch three
The game was close the entire way with Johnson County holding the biggest lead. Eller’s steal and layup with 2:49 remaining gave Johnson County a 52-47 advantage.
Eller and Atwood scored seven points apiece in the third quarter that allowed Johnson County to take a two-point advantage going into the final frame.
Eller said the team felt confident.
“We didn’t want to lose down here because a win would put us tied for first place with them,” said Eller. “We got down and played some lockdown defense in the second half, and I believe it bothered them some. They’ve got a great team, but this was a game we had to have. I’m proud of all my teammates.”
Johnson County (6-1, 16-4) ran their winning streak to 10 games. They dropped a 71-59 contest to the Cyclones back on November 30.
The Cyclones fell to (6-1, 13-4) after knocking off Science Hill at home last week.
The final three minutes were filled with some clutch shots. Phillips swished a 3-ball from the corner with 3:05 remaining putting the Horns up 55-51. Eller added another while Atwood was 14-of-17 from the foul line including 10-of-10 in the second half. He felt like stopping them on the inside was huge.
“Troy did a great job defending Everett in the middle,” said Atwood. “We also took away the three at the top of the key and didn’t let them get very many fast break points. This game was one that we wanted.”
Nico Ashley got the Cyclones within two at 55-53 with 50 seconds remaining. Atwood put the game away with his excellent free throw shooting.
Atwood led the Horns with 25 points followed by Eller with 18. Phillips also reached double figures with 10. Reece played an outstanding floor game bagging two treys and not committing a turnover. He played every minute in the game.”
The Cyclones had three players in double figures
led by Wilson’s 15 points. Ashley and Parker Hughes added 13 and 10 points respectively.
“I can’t say enough about how proud I am of this team tonight,” added Atwood. “I loved the way the way we finished it out at the end.

Johnson Co. 12 15 16 18 -61
Elizabethton 11 15 15 14 -55

Atwood earns 300th career win

JC’s Blake Atwood (11) scores on a scoop shot against South.
Photo by Tameula Trivett

Horns top South, Lady Longhorns fall

By Tim Chambers

On a night where dad earned his 300th career, son Blake was a major factor in why he did so. Blake Atwood blistered the nets for 32 points helping Johnson County
defeat Sullivan South
64-52 before a packed house inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium.

Boys
Johnson County 64
Sullivan South 52
It was tough sledding for the Horns in the first two quarters as South led 16-10 after one and 31-30 at the half. That would not be the case over the final two quarters.
Atwood began the third quarter by knocking down a long three than added a three-point play that put the Horns in front for good.
“They got ten offensive boards in the first half, and that killed us,” said Atwood. “They did a great job running their dribble-drive offense, and they are well coached. We made some adjustments at the half and started blocking out and limiting them to one shot. We knew if we could do that then we could get back in the game. You have to be careful with a team like South because they can score 10-12 points in a hurry.”
The younger Atwood scored 11 points in the third quarter which was three more than South’s total output. His dunk and 3-ball allowed the Horns to pull in front 44-39 going into the final period.
The Horns continued to pour it on, their lead never got under double digits after
that.
Atwood ended the night with 32 points and six rebounds. Phillips added 16 points along with Gavin Reece who tallied seven points and four assists.
Coach Atwood liked the fact that his 300th win came with this group.
“We were up six when Blake picked up his fourth foul and had to sit, and these kids stretched the lead to 13. That’s the type of kids we have. Getting to share this with Blake and these kids is very special. We’ve not done anything yet, but it’s been one of my favorite teams that I’ve ever coached. They all get along great, and there is no selfishness. All the kids know their role. The all are a joy to coach.”

Girls
Sullivan South 51
Johnson County 40
The Lady Longhorns scored the first basket of the game and led 10-8 on a jumper by Sadie Stout, but it was all downhill after that.
Alexis Harris and Mollie Leslie hit late treys including one at the buzzer to give
South a 16-10 advantage.
They went into the locker
room with a 29-18 lead at the half.
The Longhorns played dead even with the Rebels in the second half but could gain no ground. They got it down to eight on two occasions thanks to baskets by Cox and Taylor Parsons but couldn’t get any closer.
Cox scored a game-high 17 points to lead the Horns while Parsons added 14 points and six rebounds.
Head coach Leon Tolley pointed to a couple of places where he felt like the game got away.
“The end of the first quarter and late in the second quarter was the difference,” said Tolley. “I’ve run out of excuses for them. We knew what they were going to do and we let them do it. Tonight we were our own worst enemy. We never got matched up all night, and our rotations were bad. We changed defenses four or five times and didn’t matter what we did. The bottom line is they beat our butts.”

Lady Longhorns hold off Hampton

JC’s Taylor Cox (13) scores a left-handed layup against Hampton. Cox had 12 points in the Horns’ 47-43 win.
Photo by Tim Chambers.

By Tim Chambers

Very seldom can you use the phrase must win in a non-conference game, but that was the case on Saturday for Johnson County. The Lady Longhorns got back on the winning track by defeating Hampton 47-43 before a large crowd inside of VanHuss-White Gymnasium.
It was the second win of the season for Horns over their lake rival and came after a heartbreaking 55-54 overtime loss at Elizabethton on Friday. It was also their fourth game in six days.
Despite possible fatigue, they still managed to hold off the Lady Bulldogs after building a 15-point lead heading into the fourth.
Head coach Leon Tolley knew his team was in for a “dog fight” and warmed his squad going into the final eight minutes.
“We got the big lead, but you can’t keep a team that shoots the ball as Hampton does down the whole game,” said Tolley. “We were lucky to have the big lead. I told our kids when they came to the bench that it wasn’t enough. There’s a lot of magic inside this gym. I don’t care if we won by one or 30 we just needed a win. Just the look on the girl’s faces said it all. That’s what makes coaching so enjoyable.”

Longhorns dominate
first three quarters
The Longhorns got seven points from Sadie Stout in the first quarter that offset the two treys scored by Stephanie Campbell and Trinity Camillo. A late basket by Taylor Cox gave Johnson County a 9-6 advantage going into the second.
The Horns would pad their lead thanks to a three-point play by Cox that made it 14-6 after Stout’s bucket to start the second. Hampton got within five just seconds before the half, but a buzzer-beating three by Natalie Winters upped the Horns advantage at 23-15.

Momentum continues
for the Horns
Johnson County continued to expand their cushion with Cox and Stout leading the way. They both tossed in seven points each as the Horns doubled Hampton’s scoring total 14-7 in the quarter.
They appeared to have a comfortable 37-22 heading into the final stanza, but that wasn’t the case.
Campbell fired in nine points during the final eight minutes, and Guinn added another seven. Their 21 points output was one less than what they had scored over the first three frames.
The Dogs went on a 10-0 run late in the game to close the deficit to 43-40 with 1:25 remaining. The Longhorns put the game away behind some clutch free throw shooting by Emmy Miller who sank 5-of-6 in the quarter including three that came late that stretched the lead to six.
Stout had a big night with 17 points and five rebounds to pace the Longhorns. Cox added 12 points and five boards, while Winters contributed seven points and three assists. Taylor Parsons led the team in rebounding with seven and blocked three shots.
Campbell and Guinn had 17 and 16 points respectively for the Bulldogs.
It was a good win for
the Horns who went 2-2 during their four-game week. Tolley feels like his squad might now be on the right track.
“That’s the first time that we’ve put two good efforts back to back, so I tickled with the way we played,” said Tolley. “We played together, and we played for one another. We shared the basketball, and we picked one another up. We’ve dealt with some issues, but I think we’re better for it now. I hope our best basketball of the year is now in front of us.”

Johnson Co. 9 14 14 10 -47
Hampton 6 9 27 21 -43

Lady Horns hammer Holston

JC’s Sadie Stout drives to the basket against Holston. Stout scored 17 points in their 66-37 win.
Photo by Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers

Johnson County’s sputtering offense suddenly got kicked into overdrive against Holston late in the first quarter. The Lady Longhorns overcame a sluggish start to defeat their neighboring rival 66-37 on Monday night inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium.
Taylor Cox and Sadie Stout combined for 51 points with Cox amassing a career-high 34. She gave credit to her supporting cast for helping her achieve her milestone.
“I owe it all to my teammates because I couldn’t have done it without them,” said Cox. “They were passing the ball well, and I was taking the open shot. They were getting me the ball in a position where I could score. I got a lot of good looks at the basket.”

Slow start erased quickly
The Lady Horns found themselves down 9-2 at the 5:00 mark thanks to the red-hot shooting of Holston’s Liyah French. The junior guard scored 11 first-quarter points including nine from behind the three-point arc.
That didn’t sit well with Lady Longhorns’ head coach Leon Tolley.
“This was your typical snow day ballgame,” said Tolley. “It’s good and bad, and the bad is we didn’t come out ready to play. Everything we worked on we seems to do the opposite. The good is we responded and the third quarter was as good as we’ve played all year. We were sharing the ball on both ends of the floor and hitting the open person. Players were ready to shoot, and it gets contagious when you make shots. We’re going to enjoy this win tonight, but we’ve got three tough games this week starting with South on Tuesday.”
Holston had no answer once Cox got going. She matched French with an 11 points output in the first quarter and had 19 by intermission.
The Longhorns got three consecutive buckets from Taylor Parsons, Natalie Winters and Emmy Miller that led to a 30-16-halftime advantage.
They continued to pour it on in the third.

Stout lights it up, and Cox remains hot
The Lady Cavs got hit with a bombshell to start the third period. Cox continued to shoot the ball well, but Stout added insult to injury.
She connected on two long treys in the third quarter and two more to start the fourth. The sophomore guard tallied 14 second-half points.
“I spent two hours each day over the weekend working on my shot,” said Stout. “I needed to get my shot back down and start being a threat like I was when the season started. Tonight I was able to do that.”
The Longhorns built the lead to 20 on back-to-back treys by Cox and Stout in the third.
The lead reached 30 on a basket by Hazlee Kleine midway through the fourth quarter. Tolley emptied his bench from there.
Emmy Miller and Cox gathered nine rebounds apiece, and Parsons added seven as the Horns outrebounded Holston 34-23.
Winters scored five points and dished out six assists, all to Cox and
Stout. Abby Lipford closed out the scoring with a late field goal.
French led the Lady Cavs with 22 points. Claudia Frost and Lexie Lane provided six each.

Junior Varsity
Johnson County 37
Holston 35
Raven Turen broke a 35 all tie with two free throws with 16 seconds remaining helping Johnson County earn the two-point victory. Abby Lipford blocked game-tying shot attempt to preserve the win.
Macey Luckett and Rhiannon Icenhour led the Longhorns with 11 points each. Turen had five while Jacey Eshelman and Lipford scored four apiece. Sydni Potter closed out the scoring with two.
Katie Lawson scored a game-high 17 points to lead Holston.

Girls Varsity
Holston 12 4 16 5 -37
Johnson Co. 13 17 16 15 -66
3-point goals—Holston 5 (French 5) JC 9 (Stout 5, Cox 4)

Longhorns solve Patriots

JC’s Troy Arnold (44) finds a way to score over East’s 6’8 center Dayne Davis. Arnold had six points and six rebounds in the 59-55 win. Photo by Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers

BLUFF CITY—Winning inside the Dyer Dome has been like trying to find a needle in a haystack for Johnson County in recent years. That was until Friday night.
Blake Atwood tickled the twine for a game-high 26 points including 20 in the second half to lead the Longhorns past Sullivan East
59-55. And he did it
against a variety of gimmick defense
Johnson County’s last
win over East came in 2014 in the District Tournament. More importantly, they are now 4-1 in the Three
Rivers Conference and 12-5 overall.
“We’ve not beaten them since I started playing as a freshman,” said Blake Atwood. “I can’t ever remember winning at home and especially not here. I know it’s a big win for us.”
Trying to solve the Patriots defense was like trying to find the right combination to a locked safe. The reward was huge after deciphering the code.
East chose to double up
on the senior guard just
steps after crossing the
half court line. They also went triangle to try and avoid Atwood benefiting from
mismatches. Nothing appeared to work in the second half.
“I told our coaching staff that Coach (John) Dyer would have something we weren’t prepared for and he did,” said Longhorns’ head coach Austin Atwood. “He made sure somebody was within six or eight inches of him most of the game. It helped us because we extended it out and started getting it into the middle and then hit our post guys that gave us some good looks. Blake got a lot of shot around the 15-foot range and used the Euro step to complete a few more drives in the paint. Our kids did a great job of finding him, and we took good shots for the most part.”

Longhorns rev it up in the second quarter
The game got off to a slow start with East holding a 10-9 lead after one. It was Johnson County’s defense in the second quarter that dominated play along with the return of Lucas Phillips.
At one point the Pats misfired on six straight shots, and the Horns converted them into 10 points.
Phillips produced two long treys and Atwood buried another that extended their advantage to eight. Michael Oxentine added a putback that stretched the halftime lead at 27-16 inside the final minute.
Clutch baskets by Troy Arnold and Zach Eller jumpstarted a pair of mini-runs that allowed the Horns to surge ahead.

Atwood enjoys a sizzling second half
They would turn to Atwood in the second half to do most of their offensive damage, but it was dagger delivered by Gavin Reece that would do East in.
Atwood scored 20 points in the last 13 minutes of the game including a dipsy-doodle down the middle that put them up 53-44 with 2:50 remaining in the third.
The Pats rallied late in
the game behind six points from Dylan Bartley to close within three at 53-50 with 1:35 remaining. It was the second run in the fourth
quarter by East who got
their bubble burst on the first one.
They got within two near the midway mark, but Reece swished a three-pointer from deep in the corner to stop their momentum at the 4:42 mark. That extended the Horns’ lead to 49-42.
He said he was hesitant about taking the shot.
“I wanted to pass it out and run some clock, but I heard Coach Atwood telling me to shoot it,” said Reece. “I was glad to see it go in because they were making a run. I’m glad Coach had confidence in me to make the shot. It’s tough to beat them on their home court.”
Phillips cashed in two crucial free throws late in the game along with Arnold who also converted a pair.
“The shot Gavin made was the one in the game,” said coach Atwood. “We don’t win the game without Lucas shooting the ball as he did. And I can’t say enough about the way that Troy, Michael, Blake, and Zach went to the boards along with Gavin. Zach didn’t shoot well, but he did a great job of finding the open man. This was a huge win for us because you’re never going to outcoach John Dyer. You just hope your kids play well enough to win against them.”
Blake Atwood added eight rebounds to go along with his game-high 26 points. Phillips tossed in 13 including two clutch free throws that put them up 57-51 with .59 seconds remaining. Arnold provided six points and six rebounds. Oxentine and Reece collected six points apiece. Eller amassed eight assists, five rebounds, and two
steals.
“They have a great player, and everybody on their teams does their roles 100 percent,” said East head coach John Dyer. “They have one heck of a team.”
The Bartley brothers, Dylan, and Dustin (a freshman) scored 17 points apiece for the Patriots. Dayne Davis, their 6’8 center collected 15 rebounds.
Atwood knows that East will be a factor.
“I think they’re still the best team in the league if everyone plays their best along with Elizabethton. They both have size and some excellent shooters. Both teams will be very tough to beat.”

Johnson Co. 9 18 14 18 -59
Sullivan East 10 6 20 19 -55
3-point goals—JC 5 (Atwood 2, Phillips 2, Reece 1) SE 5 (Du. Bartley 2, Dy. Bartley 2,
Davison 1)

Junior Longhorns top Highlanders

JC’s Connor Simcox (24) scores 2 of his 13 points versus Cloudland. He also added 12 rebounds in their 34-21 win. Photo by Tameula Trivett

By Tim Chambers

Wins were hard to come
by this week for the Longhorns’ middle school
basketball teams. The boys gathered up a victory
defeating Cloudland 34-21. The girls were soundly beaten by the Highlanders, while both teams lost at Hampton.

Johnson County 34
Cloudland 21
Connor Simcox scored 13 points and grabbed
12 rebounds while leading the Horns to victory over
the Highlanders. Skylar
Lawson and Christian
Lipford added seven points apiece. Peyton Pavusek
collected five points while Nick Speed had the other two.
Caden Clark had a game-high 14 points for the Highlanders.

Hampton 44
Johnson County 23
The Bulldogs celebrated the eighth-grade night with an impressive 21 point victory over the Longhorns as they led by 13 at the half after holding Johnson County to five points.
Skylar Lawson led the Horns with five points, while Nick Speed and Chris Grill had four apiece while Graham Reece connected on a trey. Four other players had two points each.
Caden Buckles led the Dogs’ well-balanced scoring with eight, while Dylan Trivette collected seven while Levi Lyons and Brady Hicks had six apiece. Jonathan Greenwell helped the cause with five.

Hampton 30
Johnson County 13
The Lady Longhorns couldn’t muster enough offense to knock off the Lady Bulldogs.
Hampton led by a slim
2-1 after one and 11-4 at the half.
Brookanna Hutchins led the Horns with six points with Autumn Lewis tallied four.
Kenzie Ramey led the Dogs with 13. Chloe
Watson and Shania Pierce added six and five points respectively.
7th Grade
Johnson County 47
Cloudland 15
Dalton Pope blistered
the nets for 17 points
while Samuel Greer added 10 helping the Longhorns top Cloudland 47-14.
Connor Simcox and George Grill added six points
each.

Longhorns split a pair with Warriors

JC’s Blake Atwood (11) scores on a 3-point play as HV’s Bryce Carter and Dakota Cochran tries to
defend. Atwood had 22 points in their 51-42 victory
Photo by Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers

ELIZABETHTON—It was a struggle from start to finish for the Longhorns who finally found a way to dispose of Happy Valley. The Longhorns broke open the game in the third quarter and cruised to a 51-42 win on Tuesday night inside of Charlie Bayless Gymnasium.
The Lady Longhorns gave a lackluster performance and were bombarded by the Warriors 61-36.

Boys
Johnson County 51,
Happy Valley 42
The Longhorns never could solve the pesky Warriors because they stayed in foul trouble for the entire game.
The Horns got eight points from Blake Atwood and four more by Troy Arnold to nab a 12-9 lead after one.
“We struggled shooting and stayed in foul trouble,” said Longhorns’ head coach Austin Atwood. “I thought the effort was there and we played hard. I’m just glad to get out of here with a win.”
Happy Valley continued to hang tough in the second quarter thanks to nine points by Blake Young and seven more from 6’8 center Bryce Carter.
Atwood had seven points in the quarter that helped them build a 23-16 lead but had to leave the game after picking up his third foul. Happy Valley took advantage of his absence.
Young’s three-ball and buzzer-beating deuce left the Warriors trailing 27-25 at the half. But the Horns would regroup to start the third.
Zach Eller gave them a massive lift with five quick points including a trey that pushed their lead up to seven. Atwood’s three-point play and two free throws by Gavin Reece allowed the Horns to lead 41-30 heading into the fourth after holding Happy Valley to five points in the period.
Atwood got hit with a couple of cheap fouls in the second half that limited his time on the court. He fouled out with 1:57 remaining after sitting the first four minutes of the fourth period.
Eller, Gavin Reece, Michael Oxentine and Clayton Cross hit key free throws down the stretch to preserve the win for the Longhorns.
All 10 of Johnson County’s fourth-quarter points came from the charity stripe.
Atwood finished with a game-high 22 points for the Longhorns. Eller contributed seven points. Reece, Arnold, and Oxentine provided six each.
Noah Stevens led the Warriors with 20 points, while Carter added ten with eight rebounds. Young cashed in with nine.

Girls
Happy Valley 61
Johnson County 36
Adrienne Henegar fired in 23 points as the Lady Longhorns took two steps backward in this one. The senior guard hit four treys as the Warriors jumped on top 17-4 and never looked back.
Freshman Autumn Henegar added 10 points one of four Lady Warriors in double figures. Shayln Whitson hit for a dozen while Tianna Long tallied 11.
The Lady Horns trailed 28-9 at halftime but finally found some offense to start the third.
Taylor Cox and Taylor Parsons hit back-to-back treys, and Sadie Stout knocked down five straight points that got them within 11 at 35-24.
The Lady Warriors would outscore the Horns 26-11 over the final 12 minutes to win the game going away.
Cox led the Longhorns with 15 points while Parsons and Stout added seven apiece. Emmy Miller led the rebounding with eight.
Johnson County head coach Leon Tolley summed up his team’s play.
“We’re consistently inconsistent,” said Tolley. “I’m disappointed with what I saw out there tonight. It was hard to watch.”

Boys
Johnson Co. 12 15 14 10 -51
Happy Valley 9 15 5 12 -42
3-point goals—JC 1 (Atwood) HV 2 (Stevens, Young)

Girls
Johnson Co. 9 5 15 12 -36
Happy Valley 17 11 12 21 -61
3-point goals—JC 2 (Cox, Parsons) HV 8 (Ad. Henegar 4, Au. Henegar 3, Long)

Horns freshmen split a pair

JC’s Corie Neely (5) and Zack Parsons (35) scored 15 points apiece in a 56-53 win over Sullivan East on
Saturday. They are now members of the varsity team and key players on the junior varsity squad.
Photo by Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers

Johnson County’s freshman team played a pair of games on Saturday and split them against two conference foes. The Longhorns fought off a late charge by Sullivan East and won 56-53.
They fell to Elizabethton 46-38 in the second contest.

Johnson County 56
Sullivan East 53
Zack Parsons and Corie Neely scored 15 points each while leading the Horns to a victory in their first game.
Neely scored 11 first half points that kept the Horns in the game. They trailed 33-29 at the half.
Parsons scored 11 second half points including seven in the final quarter than proved to be huge. Clay Stanly also had a good second half and finished in double figures with 11 points.
The Longhorns got four points apiece from Ethan Bower, Trevor Gentry and Preston Greer.
Standbridge paced the Patriots with 14. Milhorn and Hare chipped in with 10 apiece.

Elizabethton 46
Johnson County 38
The Longhorns held a 23-21 halftime lead but were outscored 17-8 in the third quarter which proved to be the difference.
Clay Stanley and Corie Neely had 13 and 10 points respectively to lead the Longhorns. Preston Greer tallied four while Zack Parsons and Ethan Bower tallied four each.
Jake Roberts led the Cyclones with 15. Seth Carter and Donte Earnest chipped in with nine points apiece. Nicholas Wilson had a good game scoring eight.

Horns nab third place in 7th-grade tourney

JCMS went 3-1 and took 3rd place in Hampton’s 7th grade Christmas tournament. Front Row, L-R: Noah Eastridge, Dalton Pope, James Poter, and Tyler Seatz. Back Row, L-R: Head coach Chris Dunbar, Tyler Bouchelle, Connor Simcox and Isaiah Fenner. Photo by Tim Chambers

By Tim Chambers

The future appears bright for Johnson County basketball after the seventh-grade team’s performance over the Christmas holiday. They took third place in the seventh-grade tournament with their only loss coming at the hands Greeneville who won the championship rather handily.

Johnson County 30
Jonesborough 20
Connor Simcox blistered the nets for a season-high 22 points
and grabbed 11 rebounds in
their 30-20 win over the Tigers to open up tournament play. Coach Chris Dunbar touched on his team’s game.
“We came out strong and played well the whole game. Conner was the difference maker on both ends of the floor. We also got a good game from our guards.”
Dalton Pope played well and finished with six points. Isaiah Fenner provided the other two.
Greeneville 56
Johnson County 23
The Longhorns played hard against the tournament champions but couldn’t overcome their superior talent.
Dalton Pope led the Horns with nine points while Connor Simcox contributed eight. George Grill added five points to the cause while Tyler Bouchelle sank a free throw.
“They have an excellent basketball team with very few weaknesses,” said JCMS’ head coach Chris Dunbar. “It’s going to help us down the road going up against a team like that. We won’t play a better ball team than them on our schedule.”

Johnson County 45
Happy Valley 33
The Longhorns were recently defeated by Happy Valley during the regular season but bounced back to take a 12 point victory in this one. The win allowed them to play for third place in the consolation game.
Dalton Pope and Tyler Seatz led the way with 13 points each. Connor Simcox had another strong game scoring seven, and Tyler Bouchelle tallied four.
The Longhorns got a magnificent performance from James Potter who connected on a pair of treys to start the fourth quarter, which broke the game open. He ended the contest with eight points.
“James played outstanding, and we got a good game from Tyler Seatz as well,” said head coach Chris Dunbar. “Pope and Simcox stepped up and played well for the third straight game, and Bouchelle was a factor as well.”

Consolation Game
Johnson County 37
Bluff City 26
Dalton Pope lit up the scoreboard for a game-high 19 points as the Longhorns captured third place in their final game of the tournament.
Tyler Bouchelle played his best game of the tournament scoring six points and collecting seven rebounds. Connor Simcox and Tyler Seatz contributed four apiece.
Simcox grabbed a whopping 12 rebounds for the Horns who are now 8-6 on the season.
“We were 5-5 going into the tournament and went 3-1,” said head coach Chris Dunbar. “Dalton really stepped up his game on the scoring end while Bouchelle played a good game and Simcox rebounded well. If we could get everybody playing well at one time, this became a very good team. I’m hoping we can build on this during the second half of the season. I definitely feel like the team will play with more confidence.”