After being handed a tough defeat at the hands of Sullivan East earlier in the season, there were few who anticipated the strong Senior Night showing that the Longhorns played at home last Friday. Staying right with their opponents through the first three quarters, the Longhorns were actually leading at several points against the highest ranked team in the conference.
No one could believe just how good Johnson County played against a team as tough as Sullivan East, proudly boasting a perfect record from the free throw line for those first three periods. As Coach Austin Atwood pointed out, things quickly went south in the fourth, turning the potential for a huge upset into a struggle to hold on.
We were running out of free throws, said Coach Austin Atwood. We were 100 percent the first three quarters, then in the fourth quarter we were three for nine. That comes from being a little tired, but doggone these guys are 16 or 17 years old. If we had made those it might have been a little bit different game. I thought they got four or five crucial rebounds, but the turning point of the game came when we got the ball in our hands on a rebound, they get a punch-out and our kids just werent strong enough. East got it out and made two back-to-back threes. It went from a one point game at that time and they go up seven.
The fourth quarter slump aside, the Longhorns did phenomenal early in the game. With Dalton Timbs, Brian Dempsey, and Chris Poteet landing multiple shots Johnson County came out of the first quarter leading by an amazing 14-9. While five points difference may not be much for some games, pulling this kind of success against Sullivan East is a real testament to what the Longhorns can do when they play well.
East eventually made up the difference in the second, tying up the game a couple of times, but even then Johnson Countys offense allowed them to take back control in the third. For seniors like Poteet who were honored before the game, such a strong showing for the majority of the game gives a little more hope for a tough tournament run. Its improvement, Poteet said. Were getting better as a team. Hopefully in the next two weeks well be able to get ready for tournament time. Thats what were playing for. I love playing here. I dont want to go, but hopefully we can just make it last as long as possible. We always try to work hard and get great effort. Sometimes things dont go our way but its just about effort really. Work hard, thats what we try to do.
Even at the beginning of the fourth quarter Johnson County was able to keep a win within reach, starting off just three points behind at 36-39. However, as Atwood pointed out even a strong defensive showing could not overcome the Patriots sheer determination to win. With three pointers starting to rain down on them the Longhorns were simply overwhelmed by some of Easts extremely talented players. I thought we defended pretty well, Atwood said. David Cassidy got 26 points of being defended. Hes a stud, bottom line, a game changer and he wasnt going to let his team get beat tonight. He kind of took over there late in the game, and Coach Dyer did a super job of setting him some strings and getting him some 10-12 footers instead of 30 footers.
To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.