The Longhorns will need their leading scorer Lucas Phillips to play well to have a shot at reaching the regional competition. Photo by Joey Icenhour.
By Tim Chambers
It’s that time of year when it’s ‘put up or shut up’ time. The District tournament begins this week, and both Johnson County teams play elimination games in the first round. The boys will open up tournament play on Wednesday night against Happy Valley at 7: 30 p.m. inside Dyer Dome at Sullivan East High School. The girls will try and reach the Regional tournament for the first time in 24 years if they can defeat Sullivan South in the first round. They will play on Thursday at 7:30 pm. Both teams face a tall task in their tournament opener.
The boys were defeated by Happy Valley 64-44 in their only matchup back in December at Happy Valley. The Longhorns have struggled lately, and the news was bad this week when they learned that junior guard Clayton Cross was lost for the season with a separated shoulder. Johnson County has lost 19 straight games, so a victory over the Warriors would allow them to salvage another regional tournament berth for head coach Austin Atwood.
The girls can reach the regional tournament for the first time in 24 years if they can knock off Sullivan South for a second time this year. The two teams split games in the regular season, with both winning at home. South beat the Lady Longhorns 32-26 back on December 6 and lost in a rematch game at Johnson County 51-47 on January 21. If the Longhorns win on Wednesday, they will play on Friday at 6 p.m. against host team Sullivan East and their legendary coach John Dyer.
The girls would play on Saturday at 8 p.m. against the winner of top seed Sullivan Central and Unicoi County. A win would send them into the regional tournament next week at Rutledge High School some 3-4 hours away for Johnson County fans but don’t expect a shortage of fans to be there despite the distance if they can win.
The girl’s championship game is set for Monday night, February 24, and the boy’s finals will be played on Tuesday the following night at the same time. The girl’s championship game is set for Monday night, February 24, and the boy’s finals will be on Tuesday the following night. Should either team reach the consolation game, it will be played at 6 p.m. Longhorn fans are urged to come out and cheer on these boys and girls who need your support. The magic words for this week are ‘Go Longhorns.”