By: Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
The Middle School Longhorns were hoping to reach the championship game of the Little Watauga Conference Basketball tournament but Happy Valley would have no part of it. The Warriors overcame a halftime deficit to knock them off 42-36 on Saturday at Johnson County Middle School.
The game was a donnybrook just like the two previous ones during the regular season where the teams split. Each of those went down to the wire.
Were both pretty even, said Johnson County head coach Lisa Arnold. We split with each other during the season and our records were about the same.
That was evident throughout the contest.
The Longhorns led 6-4 after one and 15-12 at the half. Five points by Weston Throop in the second quarter allowed them to stay in front by a small margin.
But a lackluster third quarter would do them in.
Happy Valley went on an 11-0 run to open up an eight-point advantage. A three-ball by Dakota Cochran made it 31-20 with 4:59 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Gavin Reece got the Longhorns back in it by scoring seven consecutive points which cut the deficit to 35-0 with 1:11 remaining.
Zach Ellers three-point play would pull them within two seconds later.
The Warriors took a 39-33 lead on a pair of Brice Carter free throws.
Reece knocked down a trey that cut it to three one last but Happy Valley made its free throws down the stretch to hold off the Longhorns rally.
They are to face Hampton in the championship game on Monday. Johnson County will battle top-seed Chuckey-Doak for third place who were upset by Hampton.
Reece led the Longhorns with 10 points while Throop followed with nine. Troy Arnold and Eller tallied six apiece. Nathan Lane hit a three and Mason Stanley added two.
Cochran scored a game high 17 points for Happy Valley. Carter tallied 13 and Will Tittle registered eight.
Arnold summed up her teams overall play.
We played hard the effort was there, added Arnold. Give Happy Valley credit because theyre a good team. But we couldnt make a layup in the first half and we didnt turn steals into points in the second one. We just missed too many easy shots. Plus Troy and Nathan fouling out hurt us too.
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