By: Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
It was what fans wanted to see and then some. Johnson County and Hampton treated a spirited crowd with another classic contest on Thursday night inside a jammed packed Ray Shoun Gymnasium. The Bulldogs escaped with a 61-58 win after Johnson County missed a game-tying three-point shot at the buzzer.
It was a tournament-type atmosphere for 32 minutes. Johnson County head coach Austin Atwood praised a trio of seniors for keeping his team in the game against the states No. 9 ranked team in Class A.
Jose (Guzman), Brandon Vannoy and Cody Bailie stepped up big tonight, said Atwood. I thought that Nathan (Arnold) did a good job rebounding but they hurt us on the board with their length and athleticism. It hurt losing Bud (Icenhour) early but I was proud of the way that our kids
responded after that. It was the type of game that we expected from them. The teams stayed snug with one another during the first quarter with neither one able to create any space on the scoreboard.
Hampton used seven points by Nathan Norris and a couple of deuces from Coby Jones and Jose Valasquez to go up 16-14 after one.
The game was tied three times in the frame thanks to six points apiece by Bud Icenhour and Brandon Vannoy. But disaster struck for JCHS near the end of the quarter when lcenhour,
their leading scorer, went down with an ankle injury and would not return. He had hit his first two treys.The Horns did a good job of rallying in his absence by battling their
butts off for the final 24 minutes.
They used the free throw line to stay within striking distance in the second quarter although the Dogs would remain in front.Sean Lewis tied the score at 18-18 with two free throws but back-to-back
baskets from Adam McClain would push Hamptons lead back to four.That sparked an 11-2 run capped off by Dakota Crumleys up and under move that made it 29-20 at the 3:10 mark.
Hamptons cushion ballooned to 33-22 on a trifecta by Jones but the Horns would finish with a fury.
Jose Guzman was perfect on six attempts from the foul line while Cody
Bailie and Lewis added a pair. Johnson County finished the frame
10-of-10 from the charity stripe but still trailed 34-29 at the half.
The third quarter stayed closer than kissing cousins but Johnson County
could never smooch away the lead.They tied the game at 36 all with 5:36 showing on Bailies bucket, then again at 41 apiece on Nathan Arnolds three-ball at the 2:21 mark but
then along came Jones.
The senior standout sparked a 7-0 run with a three-ball and an old fashioned three-point play to put Hampton up 48-41 going into the final stanza.It appeared like the Dogs had things well in hand when Jones hit a jumper to start the fourth but that was not the case.
Johnson County answered with a 9-0 run but again couldnt take the lead from the stingy Bulldogs.
Vannoys strong move tied the game at 50-50 with 4:22 remaining but Hampton would answer.
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