By Tim Chambers
CHURCH HILL—Johnson County had a big fish on the hook in their basketball season opener but couldn’t reel it in down the stretch. Volunteer outscored the Longhorns 14-5 in the fourth quarter
to prevail 51-42 on Thursday night inside the Falcon’s
Volunteer jumped on top 16-12 in the first quarter after failing to score on their first five possessions. Lucas Phillips got the Horns on the board with a jumper after the Falcons had gone up 8-0.
A three-ball from Ethan Bower and a three-point play by Clayton Cross got the Horns within a basket at 14-12.
Volunteer led 16-12 after one and went into the locker room at halftime with a 24-19 advantage.
Horns play well in the third
The Longhorns rode the play of Darren Cunningham in the third quarter to get back in the game. He scored six consecutive points during one stretch that enabled the Longhorns to move in front 31-27 at the 3:24 mark.
Volunteer tied the game at 37, all thanks to a three-pointer at the buzzer by Andrew Knittel, but he would then deliver the dagger in the fourth.
He scored a game-high 23 points, and all of them came during the second half. He tallied 15 of the Falcons’ 17 total fourth-quarter points that allowed them to walk away with the win.
Cunningham and Cross each added eight points. Cunningham also grabbed eight boards.
Knittel’s 23 points were complemented by six Falcons that scored, but none reached double figures.
Cross would tie the game at 36 all in the fourth quarter with 4:22 remaining only to watch Volunteer score the next seven points.
Johnson County’s head coach Austin Atwood agreed it was the difference in the game.
“This team is going to go through a lot of growing pains until later in the season,” said Atwood. “Our lack of experience showed down the stretch after the kids had played a good third quarter to get back in the game. We’ve got a lot of work to do before we can become a basketball team that competes. We’ve got a lot of growing up to do.”
Johnson Co. 12 7 15 8 -42
Volunteer 16 8 10 17 -51