By Tim Chambers
Johnson County missed a boat load of free throws and lost one of its top scorers early to an injury, but it didn’t stand in the way of them pulling out a dramatic victory over Hampton. The Longhorns stole one from the Bulldogs winning 58-55 inside of VanHuss-White Gymnasium on Thursday.
Blake Atwood’s steal and layup put Johnson County up 57-55 with 13 seconds remaining in the game. It was his second highlight reel of the fourth quarter.
His first one came with Johnson County trailing 48-44. The junior standout drained a three-ball from deep in the corner and was fouled. He converted the rare 4-point play allowing the Horns to pull even with 3.40 remaining in the game.
“It definitely was a huge shot at the time, but we had several big ones down the stretch,” said head coach Austin Atwood. “The three that Bud Icenhour hit late in the game put us back in front and so did Blake’s steal and layup. I thought that Jordan Edes-King and Nathan Arnold played much better on the inside tonight and our bench players gave us some big minutes.“
Down to the wire
The game wasn’t decided until the final play with fans on both sides standing for the final seconds.
The Bulldogs elected to go for the win putting the ball in the hands of sharp-shooting guard Dru Owens. His three-ball just missed the mark and Hampton had to foul Zack Eller with .05 remaining.
Eller sank 1-of-2 and Hampton called a quick timeout after running down the rebound with 2.7 remaining, but their inbounds got picked off allowing Johnson County to escape with a victory.
Big plays highlighted the fourth quarter including several by Hampton’s Jayden Livingston. The sizzling southpaw scored nine of his 11 points in the frame including two clutch treys. His final one gave the Dogs a four-point advantage before Johnson County began their comeback.
The Longhorns got a huge trifecta from Bud Icenhour to go up 55-53 with 1:15 remaining. This came after Owens had swished a trey that put the Longhorns back up by one.
Owens made a beautiful pass to Jordan Bentley that resulted in a layup which tied the score for the final time at 55 all.
That set the stage for Atwood’s heroics.
See-saw battle early
Hampton used a trio of treys by Owens in the first quarter to go up 11-9 after one.
He continued to light it up in the second quarter by knocking down a couple more but the Longhorns would answer in a big way.
Icenhour got hot and drilled three from deep behind the 3-point arc while Atwood tallied eight points including a trey and one 3-ball.
Johnson County led 28-24 at the half after Owens had hit his second buzzer-beating 3-point shot to close the quarter.
The third quarter was a slow pace with Hampton cutting the deficit to 37-36 heading into the final period.
The two teams would combine to score 40 points during the final eight minutes with Johnson County collecting 21 of them.
Atwood filled the stat charts with 21 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and four steals. Icenhour added 18 points hitting 5-of-9 from behind the 3-point arc. Edes-King collected 10 points and seven rebounds.
Owens tallied a game high 26 points for the Bulldogs shooting 8-for-14 from behind the arc. Livingston collected 11 points, nine in the final quarter.
The win over Hampton was a nice Christmas gift but the wrapping left much to be desired .
“It wasn’t pretty but we’ll take one at Hampton anytime,” said Atwood. “They just beat Unicoi last week so beating them at home is always tough. They don’t gift wrap games for you.”
Johnson Co. 58, Hampton 55
JOHNSON CO. (58)
Atwood 21, Icenhour 18, Edes-King 10, N. Arnold 6, Eller 3, Reece 0, T. Arnold 0, Lewis 0
Owens 26, Livingston 11, Hardin 7, Bentley 6, Davenport 2, Jones 3
Johnson Co. 9 19 9 21 — 58
Hampton 11 13 12 19 — 55
3-point goals—Hampton 10 (Owens 8, Livingston 2) JC 7 (Icenhour 5, Atwood 2)