By Tim Chambers
Johnson County’s only view of Unicoi was through their front windshield for nearly four quarters. They finally got them in their rearview mirror late in the game and kept them there to pick up a big come-from-behind victory. The Longhorns overcame two nine-point deficits to defeat the Blue Devils 44-40 on Monday night inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium. It was a couple of clutch shots by Lucas Phillips and two free throws by Dylan Simcox that highlighted the evening.
“We were going forward in reverse and that wasn’t good at all,” said Johnson County’s freshman coach Trent Snyder. “We got to moving on defense and created some turnovers in our half court set that got us going. I felt like that was the turning point. We had a little prayer meeting at halftime and the kids came back out and defended much better after that. Unicoi had some really good shooters. I think they are the second best team that we’ve played all year.”
Johnson County trailed 31-25 going into the final period and had never led in the game. Suddenly, their shots started to fall.
Will Henson got things started by canning a three-ball to pull them within three. Back-to-back baskets by Phillips and Michael Oxendine gave Johnson County its first lead of the game at 32-31. They extended that to three on Henson’s outlet to Phillips that resulted in a layup, but the Blue Devils weren’t about to roll over and play dead.
Bret Lingerfielt’s three-ball tied the game at 34 all with 2:39 remaining, and they extended that to 38-34 by going on a 7-0 run.
The Longhorns got new life when Simcox drained a trifecta with 34 seconds remaining to cut the deficit at 38-37. A pair of Lingerfelt free throws gave UC a 40-37 advantage with 15 seconds showing setting the stage for one wild and whacky finish.
The Horns attempted a game-tying three but missed. A key offensive rebound by Darrin Cunningham got Phillips another opportunity where he swished it in the final seconds to send the game into overtime.
Phillips put the Horns in front to stay at 42-40 by hitting a jumper with 2:17 remaining. Simcox sealed it with two clutch free throws with seven ticks showing.
“Lucas hit two big shots and Dylan made one and two crucial free throws,” added Snyder. “Petie played good at the point and we rebounded well. All the kids played pretty well in the second half.”
Unicoi scored the first six points of the game and led 11-6 after one.
They went up by nine in the second quarter on a three-ball by Noah Tillson, but the Horns cut it to five going into halftime.
Johnson County tried to chip away in the third quarter getting four points by Cunningham and a three-ball from Simcox, but they never got closer than a half dozen.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.