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Longhorns fight hard; Cloudland takes tourney

The Johnson County Longhorns came into the second round of the Alpha Natural Resources Tip-Off Tournament at John S. Battle High School after a strong win against Wise Central earlier in the week. During that game high scorer Brian Dempsey managed 17 points and 17 rebounds in an effort that helped lead to a 59-41 victory. Likewise, the Holston Cavaliers managed to hold off Twin Valley in their first round game leading them to their next game against Johnson County. The Cavaliers put up a hard fight in what many would have thought should have been an easy victory for the Longhorns. Although in the end Johnson County did manage to stay in the fight for top place in the tournament with a 42-38 win, Holston largely outperformed their opponent throughout the game. According to Johnson County Coach Austin Atwood, “They took that team lightly. We beat ‘em by 25 or 30 earlier this year and I told the boys coming in they wouldn’t be the same bunch tonight. I have to give credit to Holston. They did a great job. If their shooter gets on they beat us. They should have beat us. We didn’t deserve to win the game by any means. They out hustled us, they out physicaled us, they out run us. We were fortunate to win.”
Despite being just behind the Longhorns the whole game, Holston never gave up. One bucket after another they worked to catch up, ending the first quarter with a last second shot that made the score 12-9 and kicking off the second quarter with an even 14-14. There was a strong lack of team effort on the part of Johnson County throughout the first half, leading Atwood to use some of the younger players on the bench even with the game still up in the air. “We weren’t getting the effort out of our first six or seven guys so we just played some younger kids, and they made a run on us. We were lucky to win.”
With a halftime score of 24-17, the scoreboard began to slow down in the third as both teams began to pick up defensively. Johnson County managed a few more buckets, ultimately bringing them to 32, but Holston was largely held at bay getting one 2-point shot and remaining at 19 until halfway through the fourth quarter. This proved to be the saving grace for Johnson County, as Holston hit a good string of shots around the three-minute mark that brought the score to within 4 points at the end of the game. With only 7 seconds left on the clock Johnson County received a foul that pushed the final score to 42-38.
“Tonight showed our youth,” said Atwood. “It was the worst performance that I have seen in a long time. I’m disgusted with how they played and the boys are disgusted too. We just didn’t play very well tonight and if we play like that tomorrow we’re gonna get beat. Nobody was focused and ready to go. We’ve been playing pretty well as a team, but tonight we played as five individuals out there. We didn’t execute offensively, didn’t play power basketball down low.”
Hopefully the Longhorns will be in a better mindset for the third and final round of the tournament, as they take on Cloudland Saturday night.
Final Scoring:
Carlton Tugman 10
T.J. Patterson 8
Brian Dempsey 5
J.R. Speed 5
Ryan Mahala 3
River Cazire 2
Chris Poteet 2
Dusty Stout 2
Quinton Wright 2
Chase Phillips 1
Dalton Timbs 1

The final round of the Alpha Natural Resources Tip-off Tournament at John S. Battle High School turned out to be a grueling matchup between two very determined teams. Both the Johnson County Longhorns and the Cloudland Highlanders gave it their all in a back and forth struggle to take home the first place trophy. Although Johnson County ultimately came up short, the Highlanders definitely had to earn their keep as the Longhorns kept bouncing back to within one shot of tipping the balance.
The whole first half was a battle of defense as both teams were unable to gain a strong lead. At the end of the first quarter the score was only 5-6, with the Longhorns trailing by one point. The second quarter became a back and forth fight with Cloudland ahead at times only to fall behind a determined Johnson County. Starting off down by three, the Longhorns managed to get ahead by two points with three minutes left on the clock, but quickly fell behind yet again. A last minute basket brought the half time score to 14-13 in Johnson County’s favor.
According to Coach Austin Atwood, “Compared to last night this game went a lot better. Their energy levels were up. They played a lot harder. When you can hold a team to 13 points at half time, they did a good job of it. The start of the third quarter was the turning point. They came in and knocked down some big threes. But our guys kept fighting back. You give them a little ray of hope; you give them some energy and they’re tough to beat.”
The series of three point shots that Cloudland successfully landed at the beginning of the third quarter proved to be Johnson County’s downfall, but even after starting down by 10, the Longhorns were able to get back within 3 points in the 4th. Yet, despite several amazing drives by Dusty Stout and successful baskets from Brian Dempsey and Carlton Tugman, the Longhorns just could not overtake the Highlanders, who utilized an excellent passing game to eat up time on the clock.
With a score of 38-41 and 30 seconds left on the clock, Johnson County took a last time out. The tension was high as Johnson County fans hoped for a miracle three-pointer to even up the score, but with Cloudland in possession and an unfortunate last minute basket and foul at the very end, an overtime game was not meant to be. The final score came out to 38-45, leaving Johnson County to take home the second place trophy.
Yet, with such an exciting ending, Johnson County’s players can be very proud of their performance and will hopefully use the experience for future games. Speaking about the team’s improvement Coach Atwood stated, “We’re working on it. We’re not near as good as we want to be, but this team will gel at some time. We’re not there yet. We’ve got some young players trying to get a lot of quality wins. But even though we lost tonight I am much more pleased with their effort.”
Final Scoring
Carlton Tugman 11
Brian Dempsey 10
Quinton Wright 8
Dusty Stout 4
Ryan Mahala 2
Andy Stout 2