By: Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
Johnson County sputtered at times but never took its foot off the gas on Friday night against Happy Valley. A recent tune-up job was enough to propel them to a 59-48 victory before a large crowd inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium.
The home team looked impressive throughout the game but their inability to cash in on some free throws down the stretch gave Happy Valley a chance to carve what was an 18-point second half lead down to the final margin.
Head coach Austin Atwood was happy with his teams effort after close losses to Elizabethton and Hampton. He knows his team is starting to close the gap.
Weve got to out rebound, out defend and out hustle people in order to win, said Atwood. Teams are bigger and more athletic than we are. Tonight we were that blue collar team that went out and did the dirty work. Brandon Vannoy was huge on the board especially in the fourth quarter. Several of those were offensive rebounds which allowed us to get some second chance points.
The two teams played nip-and-tuck in the first quarter with neither team able to mount a sizeable advantage.
Bud Icenhour scored eight of Johnson Countys first 10 points including two treys. Nathan Kyte had three field goals and Josh Hammonds added five but no other Warrior scored.
The Longhorns (1-1, 2-7) led 12-11 after one with a basket in the final seconds by Sean Lewis.
The first five minutes of the second stanza was a carbon copy of the first one. The game remained tight due to Icenhours hot shooting and a pair of hustle plays by Hammonds. His three-ball gave the Horns a 17-11 lead but a steal and layup by Hammonds and his off-balanced runner kept the Tribe within two at 19-17.
Johnson County turned to senior guard Jose Guzman for help and he responded in a big way. He provided a long trey then finished the half with a three-point play helping the Longhorns to a 32-26 halftime cushion.
Johnson Countys guard play continued to carry the load during the third quarter.
Guzman got loose for five points and Icenhour found the range for another long trey. The Warriors got five points from Chase Young but their offense stalled on four consecutive trips up the floor.
The turning point came when a hustle play caused some chaos that resulted in the ejection of Hammonds due to the two technical fouls that were called.
Icenhour sank three free throws that triggered a 13-5 Johnson County run that enabled them to build a sizeable 47-29 lead. But a 65-foot shot launched by Young at the buzzer found nothing but net giving Happy Valley (1-1,6-2) some much needed momentum heading into the fourth. From there they begin to chip away.
Kyte did his part by knocking down a pair of jumpers with eight more points coming by way of Tyler Torbett including his three-point play with 48 seconds remaining.
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