By Tim Chambers
Trying to knock off Cloudland inside of Sonny Smith Gymnasium can be like trying to eat a 30-ounce T-bone steak in a 30-minute time frame. It’s nearly impossible but it makes news when it happens.
The Longhorns made news by knocking off the Highlanders 80-72 in overtime on a frigid Tuesday night in Roan Mountain.
Johnson County’s killer “B’s” Bud Icenhour and Blake Atwood stung Cloudland for a combined 51 points, eight assists and seven steals and yet they needed a gusty effort from Jordan Edes-King and Nathan Arnold to pull out the win.
Johnson County’s head coach Austin Atwood was pleased to leave Roan Mountain with a win.
“I don’t care how good of a team you are it’s nearly impossible to win up here,” said Atwood. “We feel very fortunate because they beat Unicoi County by 14 just a few weeks ago. I thought we defended them well in the second half and especially in the third quarter when we started to get back in it. I’m proud of our team for chipping away when we got down by 14. We had to grind out this win.”
Both teams put up a baker’s dozen in the first quarter. Atwood and Icenhour tallied six and five points respectively to keep the Horns in the hunt.
Cloudland came out in the second quarter bombing from long range to move in front by double digits.
Josh Blair scored 10 second quarter points including two treys. Jacob Perrigoy added a pair as the Highlanders led 34-27 at the break.
Johnson County was able to stay in the game behind three treys from Icenhour and four free throws by Nathan Arnold in the third quarter but still trailed 53-44 heading into the final frame.
That’s when the Longhorns sped up the tempo and finally were able to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
Zack Eller knocked down a deuce to get things started and Edes-King was dynamite on the inside scoring eight points on four field goals.
His baskets with 6:14 remaining cut the Landers lead down to 55-50; then Atwood rang up a three-point play that cut it to 58-57 at the 3:16 mark.
Johnson County (11-5) finally took the lead on a pair of Nathan Arnold free throws but Robert Leeper’s deuce erased that.
Edes-King kept the Horns in front 61-60 on a nice spin move, then got a beautiful feed from Arnold that resulted in a basket and a 63-60 lead with 55 seconds remaining.
Atwood’s free throws kept Johnson County’s three-point lead safe after another Leeper basket but the Highlanders wouldn’t go away.
Icenhour went to the line with Johnson County leading 65-64 but made only 1-of-2, leaving the door open for Cloudland. The Highlanders went for the win but Leeper missed from the corner. Blair grabbed the rebound and scored at the buzzer that sent the game into overtime.
Johnson County overpowered Cloudland in the final quarter by starting the extra period on a 7-0 run. Icenhour swished his sixth trey followed by an Atwood basket and assist to Nathan Arnold for a layup giving them a 73-66 advantage.
Icenhour converted a couple more baskets in the final minute helping Johnson County escape with the win.
The senior guard finished the night with a game high 30 points and three assists. Atwood added 21 points, five assists, five rebounds and three steals. He was 10-10 from the foul line. Arnold contributed 13 points including 11-12 from the foul line. Edes-King provided 12 points and seven rebounds.
Blair led the Highlanders with 18 points. Leeper and Perrigoy contributed 14 and 12 points to the cause.
“Bud played a remarkable game and kept us in it,” added Atwood. “I thought Edes played a strong second half and Nathan Arnold played well on the inside. Blake had a pretty good game and we got some good minutes out of Zack Eller, Gavin Reece, Troy Arnold and Lucas Phillips.“
Johnson County 80, Cloudland 73 (OT)
Johnson Co. (80) Icenhour 30, Atwood 21, N. Arnold 13, Edes-King 12, Eller 4, T. Arnold 0, Reece 0, Phillips 0.
Blair 18, Leeper 14, Perrigoy 12, Johnson 8, Birchfield 4, Coffey 4, Hicks 4, Shell 5, Benfield 1, Bean 2.
Johnson Co. 13 14 17 22 14 — 80
Cloudland 13 21 19 13 6 — 72
3-point goals—JC 6 (Icenhour 6) CL 7 ( Blair 3, Perrigoy 2, Shell 1, Johnson 1)