Following a very narrow defeat to Cloudland in the John Battle High School tip-off tournament just a couple of weeks ago, the Johnson County Longhorns played the Highlanders once again, this time at home. But, even with that advantage, it seemed as though a totally different set of teams were on the court, as Cloudland jumped to an early lead and never let up.
In the end the Longhorns put up a hard fight, but the Highlanders walked away with a stunning 42-63 win. According to Coach Austin Atwood, We just played a lot worse and they played a lot better. When we played in Bristol we did a heck of a lot better job defensively, contested every shot and made it hard to score. Tonight they got started early.
Within the first quarter Cloudland had managed 25 points to Johnson Countys 9 and the second quarter didnt get much better. Foul shots proved to be the Longhorns saving grace all throughout the first half, with points picked up by Andy Stout, Brian Dempsey, Dusty Stout, and Carlton Tugman in the second quarter alone. Along with a couple of baskets by Tugman and Ryan Mahala, at the buzzer Johnson County was down 26-41.
The third quarter proved to be the Longhorns chance at a comeback, keeping the Highlanders at 43 for the whole first half of the quarter, while a series of baskets by Brian Dempsey and Ryan Mahala brought the boys within 15. Excitement started to build as the hometown fans thought they might see Johnson County come alive under the pressure as they had done in past games. Yet, the gap seemed to be just too wide and, despite a successful 3-point shot from Dusty Stout, the Longhorns began slipping again in the last two minutes.
Talking about their match up at the tournament, high scorer Brian Dempsey stated, The difference between tonight and the John Battle game is individuality. I feel that we just werent ready to win. We didnt execute well. But other than that we can fix it, get over it, and get back on the right track. We just didnt contest their shots. It was a serious lack of effort. Weve got to learn from our mistakes.
At the beginning of the fourth the score was 31-57 and many of the younger players were getting their chance on the court. River Cazire picked up a basket at the five-minute mark and Dalton Timbs landed a three-pointer with only a couple of minutes left in the game. However, nothing could stem the tide of shots from Cloudland as they climbed to 63 to end the night.
Were searching right now, but when your older guys arent ready to play, were just not that good of a basketball team, said Atwood. Everybodys got to work hard, everybodys got to play. We didnt play hard. They out-hustled us, they out-physicaled us. These boys know what it takes to play a team like Cloudland, you gotta be able to handle the pressure and play as a team. They did neither.
Brian Dempsey 16
Ryan Mahala 5
River Cazire 4
Carlton Tugman 3
Dalton Timbs 3
Dusty Stout 3
Andy Stout 2
T.J. Patterson 2
Chris Poteet 2
Quinton Wright 2