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JCHS Boys, Girls lose heartbreakers to Unaka last week

Jason Steele put together one of the most spectacular performances in JCHS Basketball history, but it still wasn’t enough for a win last Tuesday night.
The senior post player finished with 46 points and 18 rebounds, but Unaka was too tough down the stretch in a 73-72 Ranger victory over the Longhorns at Shoun Gym.
Steele did everything he could, but the Longhorn defense gave up too many Ranger threes.
The last minute of the game also did the Longhorns in.
The Rangers took the lead for good at 73-72 on three pointer. The Longhorns saw a play that was intended to go to Steele go wrong, but Dusty Stout found a wide open look and attempted the shot, only to see the ball go in and out.
The Longhorns played extremely hard, but wound up on the short end.
“This is awful,” Steele said. “The bottom line is I can play with all I’ve got, but when it comes down to crunch time we’ve got to play defense better. That’s all there is to it.
“It’s very frustrating. I’ve been on teams in the past where we’ve been the best defensive team in the league. I don’t know if we just don’t have the speed or what it is. We’re going to come through it all.”
Steele actually could have had 48 and quite possibly the game winner, but a bucket late that was negated by a timeout from Coach Atwood.
However, it was pointed out later that Steele traveled on the play and the timeout actually was a good thing.
Steele put forth a great individual effort, but with the Longhorns not having many quality wins so far this year, he knows that he needs to push farther.
“I definitely not giving 100 percent,” Steele said. “I wish that I could take some things back even though I am playing well right now. I could play better. I’m not doing all I can.”
Atwood knows that some of the crowd might have second guessed the timeout when Steele hit the shot, but he is sure he did the right thing.
“I know I did the right thing because he walked,” Atwood said. “I was calling it to get a set play, we just didn’t do a good job at the end of the game.”
The Longhorn defense struggled on the night and it will have to do a better job in future games.
“Right now we can’t win any games giving up 73 points,” Atwood said.
The lead changed hands several times as the Longhorns kept feeding Steele and Unaka kept hitting big shots.
JCHS had the biggest lead of the second half at 50-44.
Turnovers doomed JCHS and the Longhorns gave up too many open looks.
Unaka climbed back into the game and eventually won it.
When it was all said and done, Steele had another career night.
Some coaches wouldn’t want a player scoring that many points, but Atwood begs to differ in this case.
“That’s another unselfish performance,” Atwood said. “We have to find a point guard who will get the ball in his hand. Chase Kleine played a lot better tonight and Ryan Mahala is giving me some good minutes in JV and I’m about to feel more comfortable putting him in. We’re just not very deep right now. I think we’ll get things together, I just hope it’s sooner than later.”
JCHS Scoring: Jason Steele 46, Chase Kleine 3, Cody Brown 14, Dusty Stout 3, Quinton Wright 4, Jason Dugger 2.
Girls Varsity
Unaka 45
The Lady Longhorns almost pulled off a miraculous comeback and in the process won some confidence.
The Lady Longhorns were down by as many as 15 points in the third quarter, but then went on a 16-2 run to cut the Lady Rangers lead to one-point at 36-35.
JCHS came back thanks a relentless press and aggressive play.
Rebecca Royston hit some key baskets in the second half to provide a spark and everyone on the team played great defense.
Brooke Brown handled the point guard position as good as she’s played it and Sarah Swift was tough in the post.
Overall, head coach Todd Whittemore was thrilled with the Lady Longhorns’ performance.
“Give the girls all the credit and we were down 15 and we had never come back that far before, but they didn’t quit and kept fighting,” he said. “They executed and when the plays broke down they made great reads. I thought we shared the ball so well tonight. Maybe we overpassed a little bit tonight but we were looking for teammates and I would rather have that than people forcing stuff. They fought and battled. That team beat us by 30 points on a neutral floor a few weeks ago and tonight we were in the ball game with them late. They still have that fight in them.”
Buckets by Royston and Swift put the Lady Longhorns ahead at 41-40 in the final two minutes, but some key fouls down the stretch hurt JCHS.
With the game tied at 41-41 late, Unaka broke the JCHS press and then scored the game winning bucket.
The Lady Rangers added two free-throws en route to a victory that JCHS made them earn.
The Lady Longhorns for almost an entire half played with an amazing passion and a hunger to win the basketball game.
Though JCHS stands at 0-9, it has not given up and that showed last Tuesday night.
“I’m very happy and I’m very pleased,” Whittemore said. “Yes it stinks being 0-9, but when you go in that locker room and you get around these girls you see that they’re fun to be around. I like having my son around them and Coach (Robbie) McCullouch’s daughter Katie loves being around them. I would love to be 9-0 but you know what, we lost one player to injury and one who took herself out of the picture. We kind of had to scramble on the run and I feel like we’re getting better. As long as we’re getting better I’ll live with what the results are.”
JCHS Scoring: Rebecca Royston 12, Sarah Swift 8, Brandy Dugger 4, Brooke Brown 6, Brionna Reece 5, Andrea Eller 6
Boys Junior Varsity
Unaka 54
Scoring: Andy Stout 5, Dalton Timbs 4, Chase Kleine 10, Timmy Bellamy 1, Tyler Shaw 2, Tristan Robinson 3, Patrick South 2, Brian Dempsey 8
Girls Junior Varsity
Unaka 44
Scoring: Sarah Swift 2, Chelsea McCullouch 3, Brandy Dugger 2, Brianna Reece 8, Nikki Farrow 4, Ciera Boudle 6, Kristen Roark 2, Brooke Brown 4.
The Longhorn Boys are in a tournament in the Marietta, Ga. area this week. Both teams will return to action after the holidays on Jan. 7 at Elizabethton.