By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
The first round of the Region 1A basketball tournament between Johnson County and Chuckey-Doak produced a game where both teams left it all out on the floor for four quarters.
It was also a game that left Johnson County’s Blake Atwood on the floor after getting knocked down near midcourt, but no foul was called.
Karter Maupin picked up the loose ball and raced in for a layup just before the horn sounded giving the Black Knights a controversial 66-64 victory on Saturday inside a jammed pack Ray Shoun Gymnasium.
The win allows Chuckey-Doak (21-12) to go back home and play Grainger County in the semifinals of the regional. Johnson County ends the season at 22-11.
Questions, questions and more questions
The tainted ending will be water cooler talk for days to come among the Longhorn faithful. Many hung around on the court after the game talking about what could have and maybe should have been.
Johnson County had trailed the entire way but was able to finally tie the contest at 64 all on a three-point play by Lucas Phillips with 38 seconds remaining. The Black Knights got the ball back and ran the clock down to 16 seconds before being fouled.
They missed the front end of a one-plus-one giving Johnson County a chance to win.
Atwood was racing the ball up the court when three Doak defenders converged on him. As he split two defenders, he was knocked to the floor, and the ball came loose.
In the words of Paul Harvey, “and now you know the rest of the story.”
Johnson County head coach Austin Atwood tried to find the right words to say despite being denied a timeout on the play which he signaled and yelled way before the sideline mishap.
“The foul situation was 6-0 in the first half, and they were the ones being the physical team,” said Atwood. “We knew they would try and hold Blake and Bud as they were coming off the screens and they did. I’m frustrated because I was screaming for a timeout with 10 seconds left and the trail official would not acknowledge me. The gym was loud, and it was hard to hear, but you’ve got to be looking toward our bench in that situation.”
Atwood was correct in his assessment, but he would not say anything derogatory about the final play. He didn’t have to.
Blacks Knights light it up in the first half
The Black Knights shot the ball exceptionally in the first half hitting 63 percent from the field on 12-of-19 shooting.
Jacob Willett tossed in seven first-quarter points that allowed them to take a 16-12 advantage after one.
The Longhorns led only one time in the game at 5-4 on Bud Icenhour’s three-ball. Doak’s hot shooting continued in the second quarter.
Six players combined for 14 points in the frame allowing them to go up 30-22 just seconds before the half ended.
The Horns were hoping for a momentum shift after Icenhour sank a trey at the buzzer. They trailed 30-25 at the intermission.
Johnson County tried to muster some offense in the third quarter, but only two players had any success. Icenhour accounted for eight points on four deuces while Atwood was good for seven including a trey.
The Black Knights got seven points from Jacob Willett and six by Karter Maupin that allowed them to extend their lead at 49-42.
That set the stage for one wild and bizarre finish in the final period.
“We weren’t going to quit,” said Icenhour. “You had two teams out here playing as hard as they could. Many of us have played against them our entire lives, so we knew what to expect. This one hurts because it’s my last one. Playing for Johnson County has been the best ride ever in my life.”
The final Longhorn surge
Atwood got it started with a steal and layup, and Edes-King scored off an offensive rebound. Icenhour’s three-ball trimmed the deficit to 51-48 with 5:36 remaining but the Black Knights kept their lead safe with two free throws and a three-ball.
A couple of late buckets by Atwood finally got the Horns within three and Phillips later tied it with the three-point play.
That came before the drama at the end.
Atwood finished the night with 21 points, five assists, and five rebounds. Icenhour added 21 points and three steals in his final game as a Longhorn. Edes-King collected 10 points and eight rebounds but had to sit several minutes due to foul trouble. Phillips came off the bench to toss in eight including the clutch three-point play that tied it.
Karter Maupin and Willett led the Black Knights with 16 points each. Devyn Jennings added 10 points and ten rebounds. Alex Maupin chipped in with nine.
Atwood applauded his seniors especially Icenhour, Nathan Arnold and Edes-King.
“These guys have brought this program back to where it was at one time,” said Atwood. “They got it back up to where it needs to be. We have some good juniors in our program so they’ll have to work hard in the offseason to raise the bar even higher. Blake, Troy Arnold, Phillips, Zack Eller and Gavin Reece have some big shoes to fill. I can’t help to think what it might have been had we not lost Sean Lewis for the season back in early January.”
Region 1A quarterfinals
Johnson County 64
JOHNSON COUNTY (22-11)
Icenhour 21, Atwood 21, Edes-King 10, N. Arnold 2, Eller 0, Phillips 8, T. Arnold 2
Willet 16, K. Maupin 16, D. Jennings 10, A. Maupin 9, N. Jennings 6, Morelock 4, Polazzo 2
12 13 11 19 — 64
16 14 19 13 — 66
3-point goals—JC 5 (Icenhour 3, Atwood 2) CD 2 (Willet 2)