The JCMS boys’ basketball team gathers with Coach Mark McClain at JCMS gym on Friday night. The boys’ team is playing for the championship on Thursday at Sullivan Central Middle School. Photo by Beth Cox
By Beth Cox
Johnson County is heading to the championship game Thursday night at Sullivan Central Middle School after defeating Rogersville Middle School in second-round action Monday night.
The Longhorns won 45-22 against the Warriors. Coach Mark McClain has been very complimentary of his team throughout the season, and rightfully so. The Longhorns have had an impressive run, and now they have one last chance to take on their nemesis, Unicoi County.
Unicoi is first in the conference, and Johnson County is second. The Longhorns have played against the Blue Devils twice now, and both times have lost by a small margin. When asked how he can finally bank a victory against Unicoi, McClain said, “each time we have played them, we have cut the deficit. I feel we have gone into the first couple of games a little
scared and timid.” He concluded, “we just need to play our game and be the aggressor.”
The middle school team has consistently played well and know what it means to be a part of a team. They communicate well and have high expectations for each other. McClain knows how to get the best out of his players and sometimes wants to win more for him than anything else. The relationship between coach and players has been an impressive sight to see. On more than one occasion, McClain has said that this year’s team is genuinely a once-in-lifetime team. They get along great and are a talented team of young men.
Thursday night’s championship game promises to be a game to watch. The last time both teams faced off against each other, Unicoi got a good lead on Johnson County. No player even made it to double digits. Carter Atwood will need to be strong around the three-point territory going into the championship game, while Juan Mejia and Darren Chappell cover inside the perimeter. McClain knows he will have many
supporters there to cheer on his championship team; he also remains optimistic, “it should be a fun atmosphere and looking forward to the challenge.” The game starts at 8:15.