By: Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
Johnson County’s first half play on Friday against Unicoi County was a thing of beauty. Their third quarter performance was like watching a new horror movie, “Nightmare on Fairground Hill.”
The Blue Devils erased a 25-19 halftime deficit by outscoring the Longhorns 21-6 in the third quarter to win 58-50 inside of a packed Ray Shoun Gymnasium. It was a costly loss for the Longhorns in many ways.
The Horns have dropped four straight league games, falling to 2-7 in league play and 9-13 overall. They find themselves needing a win at South on Friday or at home against North on Tuesday to avoid dropping out of the No. 5 seed in the District Tournament.
This loss was a hard pill to swallow for head coach Austin Atwood coming off Tuesday’s overtime loss to Happy Valley.
“They (Unicoi County) went in at halftime and decided they were going to get up into our guards and speed us up,” said Atwood. “They did that the first four minutes, then we take some poor shots, four or five that we’re not looking for. I felt like if we could have got back in our half court stuff and executed our offense, then we could have stayed in the game. We couldn’t have played a better first half.”
Those who watched the game would have to agree.
Their first quarter play was a thing of beauty.
Blake Atwood fired in a half dozen points as all five starters scored in the quarter. The Longhorns led 14-9 after one with all seven baskets coming from inside the paint in layup fashion.
They shot 7-of-11 from the field in the quarter and continued to shoot well in the second.
Baskets by Trevor Hensley and Troy Podvin pulled the Devils within one to start the second frame, but Johnson County responded. Atwood had a bucket and so did Austin Houser that kept them in front by four.
The Longhorns took their largest lead of the game at 25-17 on a pair of baskets in the paint by Jordan Edes.
But a costly turnover to end the half would shift all the momentum Unicoi’s way.
Johnson County had a chance to get off the final shot but turned the ball back over to Unicoi with five seconds remaining. Hensley took the basketball the length of the court and scored as time expired to get them within six at the break.
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