The Johnson County Longhorns continued to rack up some good experience on the road, traveling this past weekend to Sullivan East to play against the Sullivan Central Cougars. The whole first half was a struggle to maintain control, culminating in a tenuous one-point lead for the Longhorns at halftime. Yet, thanks to a good deal of determination and a big turn around from their offense, Johnson County blasted ahead at the beginning of the second half to ultimately secure a strong win over their opponents.
The first quarter actually started off in favor of the Cougars. Gaining the first score of the evening, the Longhorns were quick to catch up with a bucket from Dalton Timbs, but still had to work hard to take back the momentum. After the first couple of minutes Johnson County was able to tie the game back up at four only to be left behind as Central jumped ahead yet again.
Chase Phillips was eventually able to help the Longhorns break this trend with a basket that gave his team the lead for the first time at the five-minute mark. From there Johnson County was able to pull into the teens, while working on the defense to hold Central back. By the end of the quarter, the Longhorns had come out 4 ahead at 20-16, but the Cougars were about to show that they were far from defeated.
Back to back baskets from Brian Dempsey and Chase Phillips helped to push Johnson Countys score up into the 20s within the first minute of the second quarter, but for every shot the Longhorns made Central was able to make one of their own. With five minutes before the half, the Cougars went into successful run that allowed them to come up from a 10-point lag, to actually tie up the game at 36 in the last minute of the period. The Longhorns were able to keep up a pace of their own that never allowed their opponent to surpass them, but even in the last few seconds there was worry that Central was going to force their way back into the drivers seat.
Yet, as head Coach Austin Atwood pointed out, most of those fears proved unfounded. It was 41-40 at half time, Atwood said. We came out and did a great job defensively. We held them to 8 points the whole second half and then won by 28. We just executed really well. From the very first minute of the second half, the Longhorns flew past the Cougars, dropping three baskets in a row from Brian Dempsey and J.R. Speed. A technical for Chase Phillips, pushed Johnson County ahead at 50-40, and with another basket by Dempsey immediately following, there was no signs of letting up. In fact, the Longhorns held Central to just 4 points for the entire quarter, with both scores coming in the last 30 seconds before the 4th.
Things went much the same in the last eight minutes, with Johnson County racking up several baskets through the period including 3 by Chris Poteet and a 3 pointer by Dalton Timbs. Yet again, the Cougars were held to just 2 buckets for the whole quarter, keeping them just shy of 50 with a final score of 48. Two more buckets from Dempsey along with a single score by Patrick South, Jordan Grubb and another from J.R. Speed allowed the Longhorns to close out at 77.
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