By Tim Chambers
Johnson County is currently 1-2 in league play and 3-6 overall. The boys have lost six games by a total of 16 points, which has them trying to dig out a hole when the season starts back on January 4, 2021.Elizabethton appears to be the top team after getting some of their football players back, especially MVP of the State Championship football game Jake Roberts who is averaging nearly 25 points per game over his five past contests.
The Cyclones are 7-2 overall and 2-0 in league play. The program recently won the Christmas at Mountain Heritage High School 40-39 over the host school, with Roberts tossing in 25. Sullivan East is 1-0 in league play and 6-5 overall, while Unicoi County is 1-0 in league play and 7-6 overall. South stands in 1-0 in league play and 4-4 overall.
“Elizabethton is very good,” said Johnson County head coach Austin Atwood. “But I honestly believe that East probably has more talent than anyone. They’re just not playing their best basketball as of yet. Unicoi County will keep getting better, and they have a good team, and so does South and even Happy Valley. It’s a tough game every time you take the floor in league play this year.”
The same can be said about the Lady Longhorns, who sit at the bottom in league play with a 0-2 mark. The girls have been in quarantine and missed 14 days of practice over the Christmas holidays, so it’s not been a perfect setting for them. Sullivan East at 9-3 is 2-0 in league play, and Unicoi is 1-0 that led the pack. South is 1-1, and the Lady Horns lost a close six-point game at South and Central, and Happy Valley are 1-1. Elizabethton is 0-1 but playing well, raising their overall mark at 5-4. The Lady Horns are 4-4 overall.
If the Lady Longhorns can get in some quality practice time, things could change over the next few weeks when they get into the meat and potatoes of their schedule. The Lady Horns have two of the best players in the league: Sadie Stout and Emmy Miller. They’ll lean on them to try and make a stretch run toward another regional tournament berth.
Head coach Leon Tolley is a mastermind at getting his teams to play well. Last year’s squad made the regional tournament for the first time in 23 years, and Miller and Stout don’t won’t another drought to begin. They’ll have to be at the top of their game along with the rest of the Lady Horns if they want to reach the promised land for a second consecutive season.