By Tim Chambers
Johnson County took the time to honor Sullivan
East head coach John Dyer with several gifts before the game, and Dyer reminded them why his teams are always among the elite in Northeast Tennessee.
The Patriots came out with a fury and defeated the
Longhorns 80-68 before a large crowd that included Dyer’s first two Johnson County’s teams that he coached back in 1985 and 86 when he was hired fresh out of college as a 23-year-old graduate.
The Patriots showed their trademark of always being good shooters by placing six Patriots in double figures. John Harrison connected on four treys to rack up 16 points. Ethan Lane finished with 14 points while Ty Barb and Preston Sams had 11 apiece. Brian Crabtree finished with an even dozen, and John Fields came off the bench to record a baker’s dozen, 13 points.
The Longhorns sprang out of the gate quickly behind the red hot shooting of senior guard Lucas Phillips who tossed in 15 first-half points. His efforts along with a three-ball from Clayton Cross and some key free throw shooting by Michael Oxentine put the Horns on top 21-12 after the first quarter and 44-31 at the half. East would find the range in the second half and shot 58 percent by outscoring Johnson County 43-24 to win going away.
Harrison led the Patriots with 16 while Ethan
Lane followed with 14 and Fields 13. Peyton Sams and Ty Barb recorded 11 each, and Crabtree collected 12.
Phillips scored a game-high 24 points to lead Johnson County, while Oxentine and Cross added 13 each. Oxentine also grabbed nine rebounds and hit 7-of-10 from the free-throw line.
“Coach Dyer and I usually have competitive games, and I wish we could have given him one more before he retired,” said Longhorns’ head coach Austin Atwood.
Dyer was gracious about the place where he started his career.
“I love Johnson County, Austin, Tom Reece, John Payne, and all those men,” said Dyer. “They took a chance on me, and this is where it all started.
Dyer thought he was interviewing for an assistant coaching job and was given the head role. His second team won the Watauga Conference, and most of them were on hand to honor him.