By Tim Chambers
KINGSPORT—Dobyns-Bennett was coming off a huge victory over Science Hill while Johnson County was on a high after defeating Elizabethton. Something had to give.
The Longhorns took the Big 7 conference leader down to the wire before falling 52-48 on Monday night inside the spacious Buck VanHuss Dome.
The Indians came into the contest red-hot. They had won 12 of their last 13 games that started with an 83-60 win at Johnson County on December 5. But this one wasn’t decided until the final seconds.
“The game was a tale of two halves,” said Johnson County’s head coach Austin Atwood. “They knocked us around in the first half, but I felt like we dished out more than we took in the second half. We very seldom got an uncontested look and they were bumping us on every set we tried to run. We had six great looks to open the game and we scored one basket. Five of those shots we normally make. I’m very pleased with this effort because right now they might be the best team in East Tennessee. We went toe-to-toe with them after not playing well in the first half.”
A game of two halves
The difference in the game came late in the first quarter. Dobyns-Bennett scored the last 10 points to take a 16-6 lead after one. The teams played pretty even in the second quarter but the Longhorns had trouble finding scorers. Only two players, Bud Icenhour and Blake Atwood, scored in the first half.
The duo had 10 and nine points respectively, but they trailed 31-19 at the half. Things would get much better for them during the third quarter.
Johnson County went up 35-21 before the Longhorns would make their move. The Longhorns started controlling the board allowing the much taller Indians only one shot.
Longhorns surge back
They narrowed the deficit to 37-35 by the end of the quarter. Lucas Phillips, Jordan Edes and Troy Arnold all had baskets that tried to take up some of the scoring slack.
The Longhorns tied the game in the fourth quarter on Atwood’s jumper that made it 39-39 after Marae Forman had scored for D-B.
It looked as if D-B had finally put the Horns away when Riamello Wadsworth made it 50-42 on a nice spin move in the paint, but the Horns weren’t done.
Atwood bagged a long trey and Icenhour stroked another that got them within two at 50-48 with 19 seconds remaining.
The Longhorns elected to foul and D-B made 1-of-2 with 13 seconds, remaining leaving the door open for a possible game-tying three.
Icenhour launched an off-balanced trey that missed the mark forcing the Horns to foul. Wadsworth sank the second of two allowing the Indians to stave off Johnson County’s upset bid.
Atwood and Icenhour combined to score 39 of Johnson County’s 48 points, scoring 23 and 16 points respectively.
Wadsworth led the Indians with 18 points and eight rebounds and three steals. Releford and Forman added 10 points each. Johnson County ended the night shooting 8-for-27 from behind the three-point line. They held D-B’s 6’8 center Charlie Browder to eight points.
Atwood added four assists and five rebounds to go along with his game high 23. Jordan Edes topped the Longhorns in rebounding with eight.
Johnson County dropped a close junior varsity contest despite 20 points and six steals by Gavin Reece and 16 points and nine rebounds by Darren Cunningham. Michael Oxendine tossed in 15 while Lucas Phillips added eight points in the loss.
Dobyns-Bennett 52, Johnson County 48
JOHNSON CO. (48)
Bud Icenhour 5 1-2 16, Zach Eller 0 0-0 0, Blake Atwood 9 3-4 23, Nathan Arnold 0 0-2 0, Jordan Edes 2 0-0 4, Lucas Phillips 1 0-0 3, Gavin Reece 0 0-0 0, Troy Arnold 1 0-0 2 DOBYNS-BENNETT (52)
Marae Foreman 4 2-2 10, Riamello Wadsworth 5 7-10 18, Charlie Browder 3 2-2 8, Chase Jenkins 1 0-0 3, Abiah Releford 2 5-10 10, Hayden Cassell 1 1-2 3 Johnson County 8 19 16 13 — 48 Dobyns-Bennett 16 15 6 15 – 52
3-point goals—JC 8 (Icenhour 5, Atwood 2, Phillips 1) D-B 3 (Jenkins 1, Releford 1, Wadsworth 1).