By: Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
BLUFF CITY A Hard Days Night prevented Johnson County from punching its Ticket to Ride into the regional tournament on Friday night in the first round of the District 1-AA tournament at the Dyer Dome. The Longhorns fell to Unicoi County 50-46 after seeing their 11-point halftime lead evaporate and then their season end.
Once again the Longhorns were without the services of J.R. Speed who injured his ankle in their win over David Crockett. Their head coach Austin Atwood said the loss was on his (Atwoods) shoulders despite having only one senior in the lineup along with two freshmen, two sophomores and a pair of juniors.
I thought for the first time this year losing Speed's toughness and experience on the floor hurt us, said Atwood. He's like having a coach on the floor and he's been in that situation before. But this loss is all on me because I should have made some adjustments at halftime, knowing he (Coach John English) would. We stayed in our man and they hit several big shots against it, plus we had trouble scoring. This one's hard to swallow. It's going to eat at me for a long time.
The Horns dominated first half play and could have easily been up by several more.
They missed three point-blank layups in the first quarter and two more in the second.
A deuce each by Cody Bailie and Chase Phillips along with a three-ball from Jose Guzman gave the 'Horns an early 7-5 advantage. They extended that to 12-7 on Phillips' trifecta and Bailie's bucket in the closing seconds of the period.
The Longhorns threatened to blow the game open early in the second stanza.
Bailie's three-point play in addition to Jose Guzman's runner and three-ball gave them their biggest lead of the game at 22-9.
Unicoi County trimmed it down to seven after Trevor Hensley's basket and Davis Webb's three. Phillips closed the quarter with four points including a steal and layup at the buzzer to put the Horns back up 26-15 at intermission.
We came out and played well in the first half, said Phillips. I thought we had them put away but they hit those two quick three's in the third quarter and that kind of got them going. We should have put them away when we had the chance but didn't.
Johnson County's lack of balanced scoring would do them in over the final two periods.
Phillips kept them in the game by scoring 14 of his game high 23 points in the second half, but the rest of the team could only muster six points. And to make matters worse only three Longhorns scored in the game.
The Blue Devils were able to whittle off nine points from their halftime deficit in the third period using two treys by Dylan Putman and one from Webb as key factors.
Phillips 23, Bailie 13, Guzman 10, Icenhour 0, Houser 0, Arnold 0, Throop 0
To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.