In the fourth win of the night following two Junior Varsity blowouts and a close girls Varsity game, the Johnson County Longhorns completed the set, maintaining their lead over the Happy Valley Warriors throughout the game to finish 44-38. Coming out of a strong first two quarters, Johnson County faced a determined and re-energized team of Warriors in the second half but still persevered despite a few setbacks.
They came out and did a great job rebounding, said Coach Austin Atwood. If he plays someone long enough, Charlie Bayless is going to start to figure out ways to get some buckets. They adjusted well to the 3-2 and started to get that short pointer and that dive down. Our backside guy wasnt getting there quite quick enough. We just didnt want them to get the lead. If they had got the lead we would have been in some trouble.
In the first quarter the Longhorns dominated, preventing Happy Valley from making any gains for the majority of the period, while Brian Dempsey picked up several free throws and Chase Kleine and Dusty Stout finished out a couple of well used plays to give the Longhorns a 12-6 advantage at the buzzer. The second quarter went even better for the Longhorns, with the Warriors making a slow trickle of baskets separated by a nearly three minute long dry spell. Fortunately, Johnson County was able to keep their pace, racking up 14 points to Happy Valleys five.
One of the big pick ups in the first half was a three-pointer by Chase Phillips, a freshman who has made big strides on the varsity team. It felt pretty good knocking down some big threes there in the early going, that and driving it to the hole like a point guard should. Ryan Mahala coming in strong off the bench and rebounding and putting it back for us really helped too. Happy Valley made us want it a little bit more coming out of the half, but all in all for about the last three minutes we held them off and kept a pretty good lead and kept our head in the game. We decided we were going to run the time out and be smart with it. We were going to do whatever we had to do. We were due a win.
Coming out of the half, the Warriors seemed ready to make a difference on the score board, getting an early three-pointer and chipping away at the Longhorns big lead. In less than three minutes Happy Valley went from being down 15 at 31-16, to being behind by only nine. Thankfully, in their rush to get back into the game the Warriors also got into some foul trouble, giving Ryan Mahala the chance to gain some last minute free throws and ending the third 35-24.
Foul shots played a big role in Johnson Countys victory as Atwood pointed out. We were 15 for 20 from the free-throw line and that was probably the difference in the game late. Our defense didnt get a clean look there for a quarter and a half. They got some junk buckets and they got some clean buckets. To be able to beat anybody in the tournament weve got to be able to control the boards.
The points deficit hovered around ten throughout the first half of the fourth quarter, with Happy Valley making a gain only to be matched by Johnson County. A three-point shot in the first two minutes gave the longhorns some concern as their lead dipped to six, but a couple of good runs by Chase Kleine eased the score back up. The last three minutes were the best in the game for the Warriors as they made steady increases that left them only two points behind with just seconds on the clock. Luckily a final bucket by Ryan Mahala coupled with a foul shot from Kleine put the score at 44-38, giving the Longhorns a much-needed boost to their record.
Final Scores: Johnson County 44, Happy Valley 38
Chase Phillips 9
Dusty Stout 9
Ryan Mahala 8
Chase Kleine 7
Brian Dempsey 6
Carlton Tugman 2
Quinton Wright 2
Dalton Timbs 1