By Tim Chambers
Trying to recover from an early deficit was like trying to find a needle in a haystack for Johnson County. They got close but the focus wasn’t there down the stretch.
The Blue Devils outplayed the Longhorns from start to finish and came away with a 68-62 conference win inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium on Friday.
Live by the three,
die by the three
The Longhorns connected on 11-of-28 three-point shots in the game but only 1-of-5 in the final two minutes. That plus Unicoi’s bench play and Hensley’s helpers was enough to leave head coach Austin Atwood displeased with the Longhorns’ performance.
“We usually get those key defensive stops but tonight we didn’t guard very well,” said Atwood. Hensley had his best game of the year and he’s part of the reason why we couldn’t stop them down the stretch. Our post players have got to score on the inside and we didn’t do that tonight. We need them now and not just two or three weeks down the road. Unicoi outplayed us on the inside and our shot selection wasn’t good late in the game. Hopefully this is an eye opener for us. This is a game that we should have won.”
Longhorn duo provides
That assessment pretty much summed up the game. Johnson County got monster performances from Blake Atwood and Bud Icenhour who combined to score 48 points including a combined 10 treys.
Atwood finished with a game high 28 points, five rebounds and 4-of-4 from the foul line. Icenhour added 20 that included 6-of-13 shooting from behind the arc and five rebounds.
But there was not a lot of meat on the bone after that.
The Blue Devils were without starting center Clay Simpson who could miss the rest of the season with an injury, but it didn’t slow them down.
Danny Lowery came off the bench to score 12 points including 10 in the first half.
The Blue Devils led 19-13 after one and it could have been a lot more had it not been for Icenhour’s play. He connected on 3 treys in the quarter and fed a nice pass to Troy Arnold for a layup to end the quarter.
The Longhorns got within three points midway through the second quarter but never could surge into the lead. They trailed 29-24 at the half with Atwood scoring the final five points.
That appeared to swing the momentum in Johnson County’s favor because they took the lead just minutes into the third quarter.
Bud Icehour’s runner gave them a 31-30 lead after Atwood had swished a long trey. The Horns went in front 33-30 on Atwood’s basket but Hensley converted a layup off a steal that would put them in front to stay at 35-33 at the 5:05 mark.
The Horns trailed 51-45 after three quarters but were never out of the game. Ironically it was another steal and layup by Hensley that put them up by double-digits, 60-50 with 3:57 remaining in the game.
Icenhour’s three-ball with 21 seconds remaining got the Horns within three at 65-62 but made-free throws by the Blue Devils at the end would seal the win.
Johnson County ended the game shooting 11-of-28 from the three point line but made only two of their last 10 attempts. Unicoi County got 22 points from its bench that proved to be the difference in the game.
Hensley filled the stat chart with 25 points, six rebounds, four assists and five steals. Lowery added 12 points and Podvin added 11. Thompson tallied nine points off the bench to aid the win.
The Longhorns will travel to Hampton on Thursday, then close out 2017 with a home game versus West Wilkes, North Carolina on Friday.
Unicoi Co. 68
Johnson Co. 62
Unicoi Co. (68): Hensley 25, Podvin 11, Lowery 12, Thomspon 9, Lingerfelt 7, Strother 1, Casey 2, Thelen 1
Johnson Co. (62): Atwood 28, Icenhour 20, Edes-King 5, Lewis 5, T. Arnold 4, N. Arnold 0, Eller 0
Unicoi Co. 19 10 22 17 — 68
Johnson Co. 13 11 21 12 —- 62
3-point goals—UC 6 (Hensely 3, Thompson 2, Lingerfelt 1) JC 11 (Icenhour 6, Atwood 4, Lewis 1 )