By Tim Chambers
A strong performance by the boys’ varsity team allowed Johnson County Middle School to escape being swept by Happy Valley. The Longhorns fought and clawed their way to a 49-40 home win over their rival neighbors from Carter County in the night’s finale.
Happy Valley got out of the gate fast, jumping on top 8-0. They led 14-7 after one, and that didn’t set well with head coach Devin Shaw.
“For whatever reason we started off slow,” said Shaw. “We didn’t come out ready to play, but our kids stepped it up after that. Corie took over the game and played phenomenal. Nate Rice played well off the bench in the second quarter. That got us going. I was pleased with our effort for three quarters, especially rebounding. But we have to fix the way we started the game. We can’t come out not ready to play.”
The Longhorns got whipped on the glass early, but the second quarter proved to be a different story.
Zack Parsons and Corie Neely opened the frame with a couple of baskets and big John Stout finally gave them the lead with a putback in the paint that ended an 8-0 run.
The spark was provided by Nate Rice who came off the bench to score four points and grab another four rebounds in the frame.
The Longhorns held a slim 21-20 halftime advantage after trailing by nine at one point.
Neely took over in the second half, scoring 11 points, including 5-of-6 from the foul line. Stout added a half dozen, allowing Johnson County to build a 10-point advantage late in the game.
Neely finished the night with a game high 20 points. Stout added nine points and 10 rebounds. Parsons collected six points and eight boards. Preston Greer contributed four points as did Nate Rice. Dillon Kelly (3 points), Hunter Wilson (2 points) and Gavin Ward (1 point) to round out Johnson County’s scoring.
Andrew Little and Trey Williams scored 12 and 10 points respectively for the Warriors. Zack Workman added eight and James Murray finished with seven points.
Happy Valley 32
Johnson County 28
The Lady Warriors were without their leading scorer and the league’s top player but found a way to win despite her absence.
The Lady Longhorns played well and tied the game at 24-all with 5:11 remaining in the game.
The Warriors went up 28-24, but baskets by Lizzy Barnes and Sydni Potter tied the game at 28-all with 1:25 remaining.
Katie Bailey and Keely Hall hit a basket each inside the final minutes that allowed Happy Valley to pull out its hard fought victory.
Potter had a big night scoring 14 points and collected 12 rebounds to complete her double-double for Johnson County. Jacey Eshelman and Savannah McKinney added four points each. Gracie Grayson and Lizzy Barnes closed out the scoring with three and two points.
Bailey and Hall tossed in 12 each for the Lady Warriors.
The best game was showcased by the seventh grade boys. Both teams fought hard with Happy Valley, earning a 32-29 overtime win.
The Horns had a chance to win but missed two free throws in the final seconds of regulation. James Murray proved to be too much in the overtime period.
Murray ended the night with a game high 17 points while Mason Ball added eight.
Christian Lipford led the Longhorns with 12 points. Graham Reece finished with a half dozen. Nick Speed added five, Dalton Robinson four and two by Skylar Lawson closed out the scoring.
Johnson County dropped a 21-8 contest in the girls’ JV contest.
Autumn Lewis scored four points for the Lady Longhorns. Patty Lipford and Brookanna Hutchins had the other two baskets.
Johnson County’s next home game will be on November 30 versus Cloudland. Four games are on tap beginning at 4 pm.